Widening Horizons: Celebrating the School of Global and International Studies

Inauguration of the School of Global and International Studies
and SGIS Building Groundbreaking
IU Auditorium
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
April 29, 2013

Introduction: “The Heavy Tread of Humanity on The March”

In his 1960 speech to the opening session of the White House Conference on Children and Youth, then-President Dwight David Eisenhower noted that when the first such conference was convened under President Theodore Roosevelt, the automobile was just beginning to become a common sight on the American landscape, radio was in its infancy and relegated to the laboratory, and television was not yet a dream.

“Now,” Eisenhower said, “the world fairly shakes with the heavy tread of humanity on the march. …Jet aircraft have shrunk our world by half during the past five years… As this shrinking proceeds, the world must learn better how to live co-operatively together to the mutual benefit of all peoples. Clearly, the rising generation,” Eisenhower continued, “must become more internationally minded and more diplomatically skillful than the one to which I belong.”1

Half a century later, the “heavy tread of humanity on the march,” in President Eisenhower’s words, has continued apace and grown even louder. The need for internationally minded and diplomatically skillful citizens is greater than ever. Today, without question, increased international integration and global interconnectivity truly are the major forces driving and shaping our contemporary society. And understanding and responding to these forces is a paramount concern for us all.

Today, we celebrate two historic milestones in the life of Indiana University that will help address these crucial challenges and help prepare this generation and future generations to collaborate across cultures and nations and forge global solutions: for today we celebrate the inauguration of the School of Global and International Studies within the College of Arts and Sciences, and the beginning of construction on the school’s magnificent new home.

Indiana University's Strengths in Global and International Studies

The school, of course, is built on the firm foundations of Indiana University’s extraordinary strengths in global and international studies.

As many of you know, IU offers instruction in more than 70 foreign languages. No other university in the country offers more—and some of the languages offered at IU are not taught at any other American university.

Among the languages that Indiana University teaches are 13 of the 15 most-commonly spoken languages of the world, and we soon we expect to offer instruction in all of them. We will then be one of the few universities in the world to do so.

Many of you are also aware of Indiana University’s outstanding strength in international area studies through its centers that engage in research and scholarship concentrating on certain countries, cultures, and regions around the globe. Among the many area studies centers at Indiana University that contribute to the formation of understanding and wisdom about the larger word are eleven that receive ongoing support and national distinction through the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program—the largest number of such centers anywhere in the United States.

Many of you may know that funding for the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays International Education Programs has been under very serious threat. I want to express, on behalf of the entire university, my deepest gratitude to Senator Dan Coats and to Representative Todd Young for their strong support for robust Title VI funding and for their willingness to work with IU to achieve that goal.

Of course, the strength of any school or program is very much dependent on the strength of its faculty. Indiana University has more than 350 research faculty engaged in international research and scholarship that spans the globe—more than the number of faculty in comparable prestigious programs at Columbia and Georgetown universities combined.

Indiana University also has a long history of international institutional engagement, in the form of exchanges and partnerships with international peer institutions. We now have well over 200 such partnerships, and they can be found on every continent and in nearly every part of the world. Such relationships are vitally important to our research and education missions. They support faculty research, provide venues for study abroad programs, and are of great advantage in our faculty and student recruitment efforts.

Indiana University also has a rich history of international outreach and service. This history dates back to the role IU’s 11th president, Herman B Wells, played in establishing the Free University of Berlin just after the Second World War—now one of Germany’s finest educational institutions. This history also includes the work of IU presidents Joseph Sutton and John Ryan in Thailand, which led to the establishment of Thailand’s premier graduate institution, the National Institute of Development Administration. This history also includes the role of the IU School of Medicine in establishing the renowned AMPATH program for the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS in Eldoret, Kenya, and hundreds of other projects that span the globe.

Given these great strengths in language instruction, area studies, international research and scholarship and international outreach and engagement as well as our high national rankings in the number of students who study abroad (IU Bloomington ranks 7th), and in the number of international students who study at IU (where we rank 11th), it became increasingly clear that we had programs that were comparable to the very best in the United States, and that we had an outstanding opportunity to further enhance the excellence of these programs by bringing them together under the umbrella of a single school.

By bringing together into the new School of Global and International Studies the core of IU's extraordinary resources in global and international studies, the university stands poised to join the most eminent programs in the world in these truly vital areas.

The school grows, in part, out of the university’s International Strategic Plan, which was published in 2008, and especially the university’s academic strategic plan as described in the 2010 report of the New Academic Directions Committee, a report that recommended ways to bring the university’s academic structure into the 21st century.

The Global and International Studies Building

The magnificent new building for which we break ground today will house many of our leading departments, programs, and centers in international studies, and will feature major new classroom facilities specially designed to support education in these fields.

The Global and International Studies Building will provide a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary academic home for the school.

We have seen in our multidisciplinary science buildings, Simon Hall and MSB II, that bringing together scholars from a variety of disciplines can foster great synergy and collaboration. This space, like those buildings, will foster the collaborative, cross-disciplinary research necessary to fully address the difficult and complicated questions asked by those who explore global forces and developments. Our goal is to create a truly global environment, where, for example, specialists in Latin American issues might work side-by-side with scholars focusing on Russia and East Europe, exploring common problems, but from diverse perspectives.

Cutting-edge technologies in the new building will allow our students to collaborate with other scholars and business partners anywhere in the world.

In addition, in accordance with the university’s Master Plan, this new facility will allow us to renovate several older buildings and eventually to create additional, much-needed academic space elsewhere on the campus.

I am proud to note that the building will be financed entirely through university sources and that approximately half of the funding is coming come from IU’s revenues from our athletics conference’s television network, the Big Ten Network. This represents, by far, the largest commitment from athletics revenue to support the core academic mission of Indiana University that has ever been made, and, we believe, one of the largest ever in the nation.

Special Thanks

I would like to take a moment to recognize a number of people whose contributions have helped us reach this day.

First, IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel and Executive Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Larry Singell, have done a magnificent job in shepherding the establishment of the school and this building project.

I am also grateful for the efforts of Maria Bucur-Deckard, the associate dean for the School of Global and International Studies and International Programs, and Anthony Koliha, the director of international programs for the school, for their dedicated efforts in overseeing and implementing our plan for the new school.

And I commend Fred Glass and the entire Athletics Department for their commitment to academics and to the School of Global and International Studies.

I also want to express my thanks to Vice President Tom Morrison as well as the IU Architect’s Office for contributions to what will be a superbly functional building.

And finally, I want to thank Vice President Mike Sample for his efforts that led to Senator Richard Lugar and Congressman Lee Hamilton joining the faculty of the new school.

Conclusion: “Widening Horizons”

In a 1957 article in The Educational Record, Herman Wells reflected on the benefits that came not only to institutions and countries in which we offered technical expertise, but also to our faculty, students, and Hoosier citizens as a result of Indiana University’s international engagement.

“In the depth of the Hoosier hinterland,” he wrote, “I have watched horizons widen. Thus I know that these university contracts offer Americans new perspectives and enlarged vistas of understanding and (the) political maturity so vitally needed in the solution of the problems of today’s chaotic world.”2

Today, as we celebrate the inauguration of the School of Global and International Studies and break ground for its new home, we also celebrate an initiative that will help to continue to widen our horizons, to offer new perspectives and enlarged vistas of understanding, and one that will allow Indiana University to continue to make important contributions to humanity’s most pressing global challenges.

Source Notes

  1. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address at the Opening Session of the White House Conference on Children and Youth, College Park, Maryland, delivered March 27, as reprinted in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960-61: Containing the Public Messages, Speeches, and Statements of the President, January 1, 1960 to January 20, 1961, (Government Printing Office, 1999), 314-315.
  2. Herman B Wells, "Widening Horizons," Educational Record, 38 (American Council on Education, 1957), as reprinted in Raymond F. Howes (ed.), Vision and Purpose in Higher Education: Twenty College Presidents Examine Developments During the Past Decade, (American Council on Education, 1962), 51.