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Theme 6

Extend Carolina's global presence, teaching, research, and public service

theme6-mandala.jpg Passersby examine Bryant Holsenbeck’s mandala installation, “Away and Back Again,” on the floor of the FedEx Global Education Center.

Globalization is rapidly changing the social and economic foundations of our state, region, and nation by shifting labor forces and market pressures that, in turn, alter social interaction, cultural practices, and our political economy. As our state's 20th-century economy shifts away from textiles, tobacco, and furniture toward banking, technology, and health care, UNC-Chapel Hill must prepare students to excel in this fast-changing world, whether they live in North Carolina, elsewhere in the United States, or abroad. At the same time, our research must address evolving challenges in this interconnected world to help local communities, the state, the nation, and the world. Our challenge is to enhance Carolina's global prominence while fulfilling our public mission.

Carolina aims to become a leading global university that prepares students for life in an interlinked world while addressing international and regional problems. Education and collaborative research undertaken by UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and students with strategically selected partners around the world are the foundations for our ambitions. Carolina's vision and guiding principles for becoming a global university are detailed in the 2009 Strategic Roadmap for Globalizing UNC-Chapel Hill.

Over the past decade, Carolina has made significant strides in its efforts to globalize the campus. During the past two years, over 63% of all tenure-track faculty hires within the College of Arts & Sciences were in positions requiring significant global expertise. International faculty expertise is expanding across the professional schools and key centers and institutes as well. Our global partnerships have increased dramatically, with unprecedented numbers of faculty and students participating in global collaborative research, teaching, and international exchanges. The University's "strategic partnerships" have become increasingly multidimensional, involving faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates in research, teaching, and engagement as components of the partnership.

Undergraduate student participation in Study Abroad has grown from 750 in 2001 to over 1200 in recent years, even as it has also diversified across the globe. More than one-third of UNC-Chapel Hill students study abroad before they graduate, giving Carolina one of the highest study abroad participation rates among public research universities. The growth in both the number of students studying abroad and the variety of their destinations is related closely to generous new scholarship programs, the result of the University's accelerating development efforts in the international realm.

Global study opportunities are one reason for the success of Carolina students in competitions for international post-baccalaureate awards. For the most recent academic year, UNC-Chapel Hill ranked third in the country in the number of student and faculty Fulbright scholars. We now have 94 graduates in the Peace Corps, 6th among U.S. schools. Our production of Rhodes Scholars ranks second among public research universities in the U.S. UNC-Chapel Hill leads the nation in Luce Scholarship winners.

The growing emphasis on global education and research is evident across the campus. The dedication of the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the establishment of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases marked progress in the globalization of our health professions schools. Currently all campus schools have global programs and partnerships and many offer international degrees. Since its opening in 2007 the FedEx Global Education Center has evolved into a highly visible and vibrant hub for global activity on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

Seven Title VI National Resource Centers at Carolina are funded through competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Education, fostering global research, language and non-language course instruction, and outreach. UNC-Chapel Hill ranks near the top among U.S. universities in the number of such centers. Ranging across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Eurasia, Asia, and the Middle East, Carolina's National Resource Centers earn federal support for global initiatives and business education research. Other centers and institutes in both Academic Affairs and Health Affairs examine population and demographic developments, infectious diseases, and the environment, for example, from a global perspective.

Our global efforts are driven by a commitment to deepening our international presence through partnering, rather than unilateral, undertakings. Problem solving through partnerships, whether in Duplin County or in rural Thailand, is an outgrowth of our institutional history and culture. UNC-Chapel Hill has a longstanding national reputation for collegiality and interdisciplinary collaboration. Three of our Title VI centers collaborate with Duke University, for example. We view collaboration with compatible institutions around the world as the best way to grapple with and ultimately solve today's complex global problems. More than twenty pan-University centers and institutes on campus foster a culture of collaboration in basic and engaged research and interdisciplinary partnerships.

These trends have propelled Carolina to 30th place in the 2010 London Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking, which evaluates scientific and research productivity among the world's top 500 universities, ranked Carolina 41st in 2010. Recognition of UNC-Chapel Hill's achievements as a global university encourages us to push forward in research, engagement, undergraduate teaching, and graduate training focusing on global programs.

Applying global perspectives to public service and outreach in North Carolina is crucial. Rick Mumford
Clinical Associate Professor
Director, Dentistry in Service to Communities — DISC Program
UNC-Chapel Hill — School of Dentistry


  1. Increase the number of faculty with international expertise. Enhancing Carolina's global reputation depends on attracting and hiring high-quality scholars, from global settings or with area studies expertise, who will expand the University's global presence through seminal research and first-rate teaching. Preparing students to succeed both professionally and personally in today's rapidly changing world will require a significant investment and expansion in the number of internationally expert faculty to lead this effort. Support for research must enable faculty with international expertise to investigate new ways to pursue scholarship and engagement on a global scale.

    Augmenting the faculty's international expertise must include building breadth (across all units and disciplines in the entire University) as well as depth (across all ranks). In particular, the study of globalization as an evolving process requires a broader and deeper faculty base, and the ongoing partnerships of our centers. Current faculty must receive support and assistance in expanding their teaching and research to ensure that they have the opportunity to contribute to the expansion of UNC-Chapel Hill's global mission. Investment in this initiative would support cross-regional scholarly initiatives, expand opportunities for graduate students, support visiting scholars and expand strategic partnerships.

  2. If UNC is successful at promoting this connection, we could positively impact the wellbeing and life experiences of our fellow North Carolinians by what we learn from global service abroad. — Rick Mumford
  3. Expand UNC-Chapel Hill's capacity to engage in global research. To become a leading global university, Carolina must establish selected areas of global research in which to distinguish itself. Since many global problems demand multifaceted and multi-disciplinary responses, we must develop research protocols that build on campus strengths, depending less on narrowly defined fields and piecemeal studies and more on a confluence of interconnected disciplines that can tackle big problems and devise creative solutions. As it selects cross-disciplinary global themes for multi-year development, the Global Research Institute can play an important role in identifying and launching key areas of research. Talent acquisition, expanded opportunities for graduate student participation and study concentration, more effective partnerships, and strategic planning will be essential to determining and building the research areas in which Carolina will become internationally celebrated. Continued success will require innovative leadership, participation in the most productive research networks, careful marshaling of external research funds and opportunities, extensive consultation, and targeted resources, while mandating even greater accountability.
  4. Augment global learning opportunities for students. Expanding high-quality opportunities for Carolina graduate and undergraduate students to study abroad, conduct global field research, and participate in internships must be a high priority. This will require further integration of study abroad programming into the University's curriculum, as well as the provision of additional scholarships and financial aid opportunities for our students. The College of Arts and Sciences and UNC Global should reevaluate existing policies governing Study Abroad faculty compensation and student costs in order to enhance offerings and increase undergraduate and graduate student enrollment.

    When students return from their experiences abroad, they should have a robust curriculum available in language, culture, and areas studies that enables them to continue to deepen their knowledge of the world. Some units have funded faculty to identify deliberate strategies to globalize the curriculum. This practice should be encouraged to enhance the international curriculum, including continued classes in less-commonly-taught-languages.

    Carolina's historic strengths in European and Latin American studies must be maintained while we expand our faculty expertise, research, and course offerings in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Eurasia. Joint degree programs between global universities and the College of Arts and Sciences, the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and the Kenan-Flagler Business School provide models for additional programs that can provide Carolina students with a more globally expansive curriculum, increase degree-seeking students from abroad at UNC-Chapel Hill, and pioneer strategic international partnerships.

    Digital communication technologies are important resources in expanding opportunities to communicate and collaborate internationally. Faster and more cost-efficient than international travel, these technologies make new global learning and research opportunities available to students who may not have the wherewithal to travel abroad. Carolina should commit to enhancing digital communication technologies available on campus and to encouraging their increased use.

    Increasing the number of international graduate and undergraduate students on campus can help to diversify the study body at Carolina and deepen all students' understanding of global perspectives. This growth can be achieved through an increase in first year undergraduate student enrollment, transfer enrollment from abroad, and international exchanges, as well as scholarships and financial aid needed for international student recruitment, and services needed for the retention of international students and staff. It is important that Carolina seek to be the best possible host for global students though assistance with transitions, academic advising, counseling, and a welcoming integration into the social fabric of the campus community.

    Because of their beneficial impact in terms of research, teaching, and engagement, it is also important to expand the representation of international visiting and faculty and scholars.

  5. Heighten the value and effectiveness of global partnering. Carolina's success in attaining world-class stature among global universities depends in large part on its capacity to participate meaningfully in partnerships and exchanges in key regions of the world. Global partners help us build on our current strengths, provide important opportunities to our faculty and students, and facilitate substantial contributions in teaching, research, and/or engagement, while enabling UNC-Chapel Hill to reach its international objectives.

    The University must be strategic in choosing its partners, while being open to new opportunities. Our strategy should be to focus on a limited number of special relationships with other global institutions that share strategic international goals with us. We should seek partnerships that engage the strengths of our intellectual community and enable Carolina to make a positive and noteworthy impact on pressing issues and problems on the global scene.

    It is essential that UNC-Chapel Hill identify and invest in appropriate international partnerships that have clear, significant, and mutually beneficial returns. Building new strategic initiatives as well as maintaining existing partnerships should be overseen and coordinated by UNC Global. UNC-Chapel Hill's strategic partnerships should be supported financially by the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost and the Deans of individual schools. At their best, these global partnerships will be multidimensional, providing ample opportunities for teaching, research, and service.

  6. Amplify UNC-Chapel Hill's global impact. Carolina currently ranks in the top tier among U.S. universities, public and private, with numerous schools and academic departments counted among the best in the nation. We can do much more, however, to insure that Carolina gains a commensurate recognition of quality beyond the United States. Funding opportunities for research — particularly those supporting large-scale international projects outside the United States — go to institutions that are able to leverage their international reputations and global identities to attract the world's most brilliant scholars and researchers.

    To build on our existing strengths in the international arena, Carolina needs to develop and execute a globally-focused communication plan that informs targeted audiences as well as the world about the University's international aims and achievements, ongoing initiatives, and future goals. Publicizing Carolina's global mission, priorities, and initiatives, as well as highlighting UNC-Chapel Hill's rankings relative to other peers in various areas of international endeavors, will help to build pan-university collaboration and foster a sense of common purpose. Collecting, promoting, and publicizing the extraordinary international research and accomplishments of our faculty and students will facilitate greater collaborations on our own campus while helping people in the state, nation, and world appreciate Carolina's leadership as a global university.

  7. Apply Global Perspectives to Public Service and Outreach in North Carolina. The perspectives and resources gained through the continuing globalization of Carolina's teaching and research should be promoted and made accessible to schools, colleges, and communities across North Carolina. International outreach programs, offered through such units as the Center for Global Initiatives' Carolina Navigators, World View, and the Title VI National Resource Centers, should receive the support they need to connect K–12 students and teachers, community college faculty, and local and state residents to the full array of international resources at Carolina.

    The benefits of Carolina's international resources should also be made available in an expanding number of global settings. Carolina for Kibera exemplifies the year-round service and collaborations that our international programs can provide to particular communities. These programs also provide valuable, first-hand cross-cultural experiences for faculty and students.

  8. theme6-students.jpg Counselors welcome arriving first-year student Samantha Farquharson to campus at Carolina Kick Off.
  9. Assess to Improve. UNC Global should prepare a periodic update to the Provost, faculty, and the Board of Trustees designed to highlight the achievements, state the goals, and provide an overview of the activities of faculty, researchers, administrators, staff, and students engaged in international research, teaching and service. The purpose of this update should be to document and assess the depth and breadth of the intellectual and material resources in global studies at the University, noting areas of success as well as opportunities for improvement. The benchmarks and metrics featured in the update should allow the University a) to monitor progress in each global area, b) to compare each area's standing to that of its peers at other universities, and c) to make regular and timely decisions about resource allocations across the spectrum of the University's global programs.
  10. Summary

    Consistent with its tradition of academic excellence, Carolina must advance its global mission through research, teaching, engagement, and innovative institutional initiatives with strategically selected global partners. As a public university, Carolina should re-dedicate itself to sharing the value and benefits of its global initiatives with UNC-Chapel Hill students and faculty, local and state government agencies, private sector organizations, and the citizens of the state of North Carolina and the nation.

    Our community appreciates the need to develop a particular sensibility among our students: one possessed of the capacity to transcend national interests and engage other cultures with decorum and dignity, attributes essential for a global community acting in concert in behalf of mutually shared interests. Louis A. Perez, Jr.
    J. Carlyle Sitterson Distinguished Professor of History
    Director, Institute for the Study of the Americas