University News

Program sparks global collaboration

By
Contributing Writer
Sunday, November 27, 2011

John Bodel, chair of the classics department, is one of only a few scholars in the world working to digitize ancient manuscripts. On the other side of the Atlantic ocean, Michele Brunet, professor of Greek epigraphy at University of Lyon 2 in France, is working on a similar project, looking at ancient documents housed in Paris’ Louvre Museum. Now, thanks to a new global exchange program launched by the University, professors like Bodel and Brunet will be able to share expertise in all disciplines by traveling to far-flung campuses to learn from their international colleagues.  

Brown Global Forums, a new initiative administered by the Office of International Affairs and aimed at establishing research collaborations between faculty in partner institutions from around the world, is in its formative stages.

“International collaborations are quite important,” especially because the field needs scholars who are skilled in digital encoding and speak Latin, Greek and modern European languages, Bodel said.

Going forward, Brown will invite professors from partner institutions and will in turn send its own faculty to foreign universities for about a week. The forums could lead to collaborative research and projects bringing together Brown professors with their colleagues around the world, said Matthew Gutmann, vice president for international affairs.

The forums will aim to foster collaboration between professors and institutions through lectures, seminars, workshops and meals between faculty, according to the Office of International Affairs website.

They will be open to faculty members from all disciplines, Gutmann said. Though the University is still negotiating partnerships with foreign institutions, early plans include exchanges with the University of Sao Paulo, State University of Campinas, Nanjing University, Zhejiang University, University of Science and Technology, Ifaki-Ekiti, the University of Hong Kong, Peking University, University of Lyon 2, Bogazici University, Koc University, University of Cape Town and University of the Witwatersrand.

Brunet, the French epigraphy professor, was invited by the classics department to participate in the initiative last month. She lectured in a graduate student seminar and gave a public lecture on the significance of water in the construction of ancient Delos.

The visit also helped spark dialogue between scholars at Brown and their European colleagues. Bodel said Brown Global Forums “planted the further connection” between two members of a “small but growing international consortium” of scholars, who are trying to develop standards for the digitalization of ancient inscriptions.

Brown was once an early pioneer in digital humanities, and the new collaboration will help “invigorate” the University’s reputation as a leader in the field, Bodel said. Global Forums is planning the second part of the exchange, which will send a Brown professor or graduate student to the University of Lyon 2 to continue the collaboration.