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Institute for Global Engagement hosts Global Symposium

This week, the Institute of Global Engagement hosted a group of visiting academics and administrators from around the globe that are participating in the institution’s first Global Symposium. The theme of the symposium is “collaboration”, focusing on Grinnell’s relationship with global partners and higher education on a global scale. Multiple talks will be held throughout the week, with guest speakers and Grinnell College Faculty discussing various topics. This includes the liberal arts education on a global scale, creating international student friendly campuses, and to tag with the theme, the navigation of academic global collaboration.

The Symposium and the institution itself are recent additions to the College. While speaking with Jonathan Larson, Associate Director of Off-Campus study, he commented that, “Our thinking with this first conference type event that relatively new Institute of Global Engagement is going to sponsor was to bring together representatives of several different institutions abroad where we’ve had a relationship or starting to develop one or even exploring one and to have those partners help us in a multi-day conversation about how to develop and strengthen partnerships with institutions in different parts of the world.”

Although select events have been reserved for faculty, most are open for students to attend. Larson commented that he felt, “that there was an important conversation that we needed to encourage involving faculty and staff but to the extent that students have been a part of the governance and have provided their own feedback and input on different activities at Grinnell, it seemed particularly important to get some students present to offer some ideas.” Larson said that the event aimed to attract people with “different hats” by inviting collaborations among faculty, students and administration, and not only academics in order to combine multiple perspectives on the globalization of higher education.

IGE hosted nine administrators and academics that included: Vanita Shastri representing Ashoka University in Delhi, India, Shikha Jhingan representing Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, India, Hun-Wah Lam and Lieke Schreel representing Leiden University College in The Hague, Netherlands, Melissa Hu representing Nanjing University in China, Ceri Bevan and Colleen Cotter representing Queen Mary University of London in The United Kingdom, and Laurie Bereau and Lesley Lelourec representing the University of Rennes 2 in France. Aside from giving talks, the visitors were introduced to Grinnell through campus tours, lunch with students, a formal welcome dinner followed by a performance from the Grinnell Chamber Orchestra along with other events and activities throughout the week.

A lunch held on Wednesday afternoon in JRC 101 provided a more informal setting for students to engage with the visitors. With students and faculty from various countries and backgrounds around a single table, conversations quickly sprouted. Attendees were able to speak to the higher education systems in various continents and regions. Not only was the varying structure of higher education discussed, but within just an hour the versatility of the liberal arts education and how it is being reframed throughout the world came to light.

Elainia Gupta ‘22, who attended the lunch, said, “The lunch was a great opportunity for schools in different countries to discuss and share ideas on what we can learn from each other.”

The kick-off event included a keynote address given by Cheryl Matherly visiting from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with responses from Shastri and Lelourec. Matherly addressed how globalization supports the liberal arts education and how it is being implemented in various institutions. At the end of her address, Matherly gave suggestions for how to properly “globalize” an institution, saying, “globalization has to be woven throughout everything a college does.”

The symposium also brought to the surface important questions that they hope administrators, faculty, and students alike should be asking themselves: Are we engaging in intentional, interdisciplinary, global conversations, in and out of the classroom? How can we learn from our global partnerships not only academically but culturally? Is our campus truly welcoming to various cultural backgrounds? These questions are key to ensuring that the diversity represented in the flags hanging above in the grill are a genuine representation of not only Grinnell’s student body, but its values as an institution.

On Thursday evening, Grinnell faculty gathered for a panel discussion on “Undergraduate Research with Faculty” as part of the IGE symposium.
Photo by Andrew Tucker
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