Increase IU’s engagement internationally through globally aware education, enlarged study abroad activity, alumni activity, and expanded strategic partnerships with leading institutions of higher learning throughout the world, and continue IU’s historical commitment to institution-building around the globe.
Engaging the World
The New York Times recently published a much-discussed article called “The Great Unraveling.” It drew stark attention to what seems to be the widespread breakdown between and within states in the period of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This period has been characterized by political and economic disorder, and by the rise of new economic and political powers, regionalism, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, and the growing threat of pandemics. In response to these grave and seemingly insoluble threats, some urge withdrawal from the world and a return to a form of pre-World War II isolationism.
Indiana University believes that nothing could be more mistaken. This is not the time to withdraw from the world. Rather, it is the time to expand and deepen our engagement with the world, based on the best expertise and scholarship available, and the best understanding of all parts of the world. Indiana University believes that now more than ever, one of the most vital components of an IU student’s education is its international dimension. This is mandated as part of general education curricula in various basic and more advanced forms on all IU campuses. While an immersive study abroad experience—an area in which IU has been a leader for many decades—is ideal, shorter stays, interaction with students and faculty from other countries, global aspects of the curriculum, and extracurricular cultural activities all have an important part to play.
Indiana University has been engaged with the world for over a century, since at least the time of its seventh president, David Starr Jordan. This engagement grew under his successors, but it was under the university’s eleventh president, Herman B Wells, that IU became for the first time a truly international university. Wells’ presidency coincided with World War II, and under his leadership IU played an important role in addressing national needs by developing programs that provided instruction in languages rarely taught in the United States. In partnership with the U.S. military, the American Council of Learned Societies, and other organizations, Indiana University became a national center for instruction in Central Asian, Slavic, and Turkic languages. Wells recognized that a principal benefit of both initiatives—more international students and scholars, a wider range of teaching in foreign languages—was to bring the world to Indiana students.
International and area studies grew steadily at IU after World War II. In time, the university’s academic strengths in area and regional studies, and in international studies more broadly, became widely acknowledged as among the strongest in the country. No other university teaches more foreign languages, and IU has always ranked among the national leaders in externally funded area studies programs. The university’s first International Strategic Plan was approved by the IU Trustees in 2008. This plan and subsequent refinements have been enormously successful. Among its key priorities are an increase in the number of IU students studying abroad, a selective and diverse increase in international students at IU, the development of partnerships with top-ranked foreign institutions of higher education and research, and a focus on pursuing all of these goals in the context of 32 carefully selected priority countries.
In 2012, in a momentous step forward, all of these academic programs were brought together into a new School of Global and International Studies (SGIS). The establishment of the SGIS is one of the most important developments in the nearly 200 years of IU’s history. The SGIS will be a pivotal focus for IU’s international studies programs and IU’s broader international engagement strategy.