Goal 3: Realize Penn State’s Potential as a Global University
Strategy 3.2: Build International Partnerships at Home and Abroad
International activities involving collaborations with other universities must be based on a strong faculty engagement or the activities will not survive for long or contribute much to the long-term internationalization goals of the University. There must be effective partnerships between UOGP and the academic colleges and campuses, especially on key initiatives that are broad and deep and meant to be building blocks for programming that will benefit both faculty and students. Most academic colleges and campuses have a faculty or staff member who is assigned responsibility for furthering internationalization within the unit itself, and these individuals must be knit into an effective coordinating body to assist in creating an outstanding, highly networked set of information resources upon which to leverage international initiatives. Further, the senior leadership of UOGP and the academic colleges (including all campuses) should engage systematically and periodically to build strong collaborative international approaches.
Over the course of several decades, UOGP and various colleges and campuses of Penn State have acquired a large number of formal agreements with overseas institutions to further student and faculty exchanges and otherwise engage in collaborative programming. Unfortunately, many of these agreements represent little more than a piece of paper, an agreement struck in the excitement of a visit, and often negotiated and ratified by university administrators rather than based on concrete engagement by the faculties of those units who are expected to participate. Thus, the outcomes of many such engagements have been disappointing.
Penn State must make a fundamental change in the way it engages overseas partner institutions by focusing on fewer and more strategic universities in a true partnership manner. A recent task force studying UOGP has strongly recommended that Penn State adopt a policy of partnership with “Global Engagement Nodes,” which would be a select and limited set of institutions in key global areas such as Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. Our strategy is not to seek opportunities to build and/or operate campuses in other countries—as some of our peer institutions are doing—but rather to establish deep and broad partnerships with a set of universities that build on already established linkages or create new ones in key areas. An initial action item, then, will be the identification of complementary partners and the creation of new value-based relationships. Such linkage sets must contain, not entirely but to a significant extent, partner universities that are peers and that have faculty and students who can collaborate meaningfully with Penn State counterparts. This is the only valid basis for partnership, as arrangements that lack a strong rationale for faculty and students to be involved will not survive very long in any substantive way.
Partnerships with select universities should include joint degrees and requisite foreign language preparation so that Penn State students are fully capable of undertaking degree work in foreign universities in the local language. We need to avoid an enclave mentality focusing only on those universities where English is used.
As the new School of International Affairs(SIA) reaches out to relevant colleges, campuses, and institutes and identifies areas of mutual interest, it will also be an important vehicle through which Penn State’s global strategies can be effectuated. The SIA has strong academic and administrative ties to the Penn State Dickinson School of Law and a core group of faculty drawn from several academic colleges in the University. The SIA provides an outstanding opportunity through which Penn State can gain visibility, attracting international students and scholars, and providing a wide range of legal, environmental, political, and economic development policy analysis on important issues affecting international relations, peace, and security. The SIA represents a particular source of strength that UOGP can leverage for even wider benefits to the University community.
As the University engages nations and institutions around the globe, conversations about engagement and collaboration must be tightly coupled with conversations about informational and transactional systems, architectures, and infrastructure.