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University News

New efforts to boost U.’s international profile

By
Staff Writer
Sunday, October 4, 2009

The University’s internationalization initiative — an effort to enhance Brown’s profile abroad — has a new leader at its helm and is launching programs to encourage scholarly dialogue and global health research this year.

Matthew Gutmann, the new vice president of international affairs, is carrying forward an internationalization agenda with help from Michael Kennedy, the new director of the Watson Institute for International Studies, said Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98.

“Two very creative and talented people are coming up with new programs and new proposals,” Kertzer said. “The students have a lot to look forward to.”

This summer, Brown inaugurated an annual series of workshops on diverse subjects such as global governance and development studies, bringing together 150 young academics from 55 countries and leading scholars from Brown and other schools, Gutmann said.

Titled the Brown International Advanced Research Institutes, the workshops have been the most prominent outgrowth of internationalization so far this year.

This summer’s institute was “very, very successful,” Gutmann said, noting that another will be held next summer. The University received a grant from Santander Universidades, a charitable division of the Spanish bank, Banco Santander , to fund the program for three years.

Gutmann has taught in Brown’s department of anthropology since 1997 and assumed his new position last month. He continues to be a professor of anthropology and the director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

He is also involved in the University’s new Global Health Initiative, which will draw faculty and students from various disciplines to work on health-related concerns throughout the world, including in China, India and Kenya. The initiative will raise the collective profile of Brown-sponsored international health efforts that have “long operated on their own and in separate departments,” the University announced in a press release last week.

Establishing a center for the study of global health was one of the highest-profile recommendations of the committee whose work was intended to lay the foundation for Brown’s internationalization efforts. The committee released its recommendations in 2007.

“Brown is global. Our faculty and students already do research and study in dozens of countries,” Gutmann said. “One of our challenges now is to get Brown out internationally even more, and to further raise its visibility throughout the world.”

Gutmann said he views his primary responsibility as developing policies to guide the University as it seeks to increase its global engagement and international visibility.

“I’ve been teaching here a while,” he said. “I know that this campus is teeming with students that want to learn deeply other languages, cultures and history.”

Internationalization, Kertzer said, involves enriching the educational experience of Brown students by making the University fully international and enabling its students to become “students of the world.”

In 2006, following a discussion session on international education, the Corporation endorsed what was then an emerging strategic plan to enhance Brown’s presence in international higher education, appointing a high-profile committee to begin laying groundwork for the effort. As part of Brown’s commitment to developing its international relationship and programs, the position of vice president of international affairs was created in 2007.

David Kennedy ’76 served in the position for nearly two years before leaving Brown this summer. Last year, Kennedy was the interim director of the Watson Institute for International Studies, a post now filled by former Michigan University professor Michael Kennedy.

Gutmann said he is working closely with Kennedy to achieve Brown’s internationalization goals.

“We’re both new at this job. It’s a work in progress, but so far it’s going great,” he said.
The University is trying to increase funding for international students, mainly undergraduates, a decision that was endorsed by the Corporation in 2006, Gutmann said.

“I think that’s going to be a challenge,” he said. The University needs to figure out how to “get the word out about Brown to (international) students who are from families who don’t have the funds to begin with.”

The Office of International Affairs also provides funding for international projects proposed by students and for student and faculty travel abroad.

Gutmann said the Brown International Scholars Program, which began last year, allowed 14 students to conduct international research projects this past summer. The office will fund up to 20 students this coming summer, Gutmann said. Applications for the grants are due this afternoon.

“We’re in a very exciting moment in Brown’s history,” Gutmann said.

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