Globalization may be another overarching theme for the University of Redlands in the future. You are a man of science and seem to be an entrepreneur at heart. Could you talk about how you anticipate future change and might help lead others in thinking about our roles in the larger global economy?
I mentioned already about the ways in which greater internationalization of our student body can enrich both the diversity of student experience and the financial health of the University. I’ll speak more generally here about the larger trends that will compel us internationally over the coming two decades. Some people find this frightening to think about. I find it invigorating.
Where do we set our sights? The bottom line is that if we want to be a player in the world when higher education becomes global over the next 20 years, and as the hegemony of American dominance in higher education is challenged by economic growth elsewhere, we have to begin now. In the past, our region has seemed to extend from Arizona/Texas to Oregon/Washington. We are on the Pacific Rim, so East Asia is one obvious direction for growth. Most universities are focusing on the emerging “BRIC” economies, especially China and India. But neighboring countries in the Americas are also obvious targets that many are ignoring. Few people realize that Brazil has the 6th largest economy by GDP, eclipsing the UK, Italy, Russia, India, Canada, Spain, and Korea (of course California would be about the 9th largest, if it were a country). And Brazil will have the 4th largest college-ready population in the world by 2050, trailing only China, India, and the European Union.
Why not continue to invest as a regional and national university in our own Redlands and California backyards? Well, the answer is of course that we should. But we also have to be thinking decades ahead if we are to remain a perpetual institution. The economy is already global. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman notes, CEOs “don’t talk about outsourcing these days, as their world is integrated, and there is no ‘out’ or ‘in’ anymore.” Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers, is fond of reminding people that “96% of our potential new customers today live outside America.” In this context, our student bodies and faculties are becoming more international as international knowledge and experience are increasingly essential to being a global citizen. Furthermore, research and development expenditures in the coming years will shift, coming primarily from Asia rather than being dominated by the U. S. and Europe. American investment in research and development will also shift eastward as the world’s largest corporations grow in the East. Many of today’s most interesting and challenging problems are not only multidisciplinary but transnational and will therefore require a global approach, as I mentioned above. The competitive landscape with other universities is increasingly global rather than national, and yes, competition is important, but I leave it until last on my list of reasons.
There are many options for international engagement, ranging from focused programmatic partnerships and study abroad programs to full branch campuses. Any significant increase in international engagement in the future would require investing in infrastructure, including central coordination, legal expertise, additional school-based staff, and an enlarged international services functionality. It’s not all upside. Some of the lessons learned from peers about international engagement include the importance of having an exit plan, monitoring funding streams, protecting copyrights and intellectual property, and dealing with challenges to academic freedom. International engagement creates increased risk through differences in culture, business practices, and legal environments. The two key questions are: (1) How and where do we best leverage the strengths of the University outside Redlands (both regionally and internationally)? (2) What is the optimal priority and pace the University should pursue in establishing any future international programs? These are long-term questions. We can engage the University’s thought leaders to see “through a glass darkly,” yet more clearly about the globalization challenge.