Global Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education Leaders: Briefs on Key Themes

Laura E. Rumbley
Robin Matross Helms
Patti McGill Peterson And Philip G. Altbach (Eds.)
Sense Publishers

“We are pleased to publish the second in our series, International Briefs for Higher Education Leaders. Our choice of global engagement as the theme for this issue is reflective of growing interest and activity among US colleges and universities, in the development of outreach and relationships with institutions in other countries.
Global engagement is a penultimate component of internationalization. Through whatever form taken—cooperative academic programming, dual degrees, or the joint development of a physical campus—it extends the reach of internationalization of US higher education significantly, by bringing partners from other countries into the orbit by which institutions define themselves and expand the parameters of what they are and who they serve.
The definitional nature of global engagement is exciting, as well as daunting. If it is aligned closely with the mission of an institution, carefully woven into its strategic vision, well planned and executed, the results can be salutary. However, if it is done hastily, without careful planning and clear expectations on the part of all parties, the results can be disappointing and possibly damaging. This Brief provides substantial insight into the dimensions of different aspects of global engagement. A number of the articles outline the path to successful global partnerships and several document some of the causative factors in unsuccessful joint ventures. Among them, a list of sine qua nons emerge for those who are contemplating global engagement. The critical importance of high-level leadership and coherent strategy rise to the top of the list. The combination of the two provides institutional commitment for a long-term horizon. The role of the faculty in the development and sustainability of joint initiatives is also a critical factor. And ultimately, the way in which high-level leadership engages with the faculty, in defining the framework and direction for the institution’s global engagement strategies, is an essential platform for success.
Many different models will undoubtedly emerge, as various types of institutions become more globally engaged. The report of ACE’s Blue Ribbon Panel for Global Engagement not only viewed global engagement as a key factor for the future strength of US higher education, it also emphasized that one size does not fit all. The articles in this Brief underscore how different kinds of institutions with differing missions can develop their own successful modalities of engagement. At the core of this rich mix of possibilities is the need for partners to be keenly aware of what each brings to the table and an inherent willingness to view one another with respect and mutuality. Global engagement of institutions across national borders holds the possibility of improving higher education worldwide. Engagement, if done well, is a tide that can lift all ships and is important well beyond individual institutions. The potential outcomes are a compelling global prospect.”
Introduction by Patti McGill Peterson