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Where is "Knowledge" in the Globalization of Higher Education and Research?

5/15/2014 | German House New York

Event Review: Where is "Knowledge" in the Globalization of Higher Education and Research?

• American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AFAvH)

The American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AFAvH) launched its pilot series “Where is ‘Knowledge’ in the Globalization of Higher Education and Research?” with a luncheon and panel discussion on Thursday, May 15, 2014, at the German House in New York. The first panel, co-hosted by the German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI), featured speakers Dr. Mariët Westermann, Vice President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Dr. Cathleen Fisher, President of the American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and was moderated by Dr. Jeffrey Peck, Dean of the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences at Baruch College of The City University of New York.

Dr. Westermann began by presenting 12 conceptual propositions related to the changing nature and location of knowledge in higher education and research. Dr. Fisher then turned to the responses of the United States and Germany, and of US and German institutions, to the changing landscape of knowledge, with particular reference to the approach of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. A thoughtful exchange about the deeper relationship between globalization, knowledge production, and the research function of the university ensued.

The panel had active participation from leaders from across the academic and global affairs communities, including high-level representatives from eight universities in the broader New York area. Discussion focused on several key questions, including: What is the changing role of the university today? What might US universities do differently to adapt to the challenges of globalization? How can institutions or nations meld top-down strategic objectives for internationalization with the bottom-up nature of most international research collaboration? Is there truly a global community of academics in light of the many obstacles to the mobility of researchers? Are we hoping to advance knowledge or advance fields? Are the sciences more ‘internationalized’ by nature? If so, what is the role of the humanities in a globalized research landscape? How can we motivate US institutions to become more engaged in international collaborations? How can we ensure that the global research experience is more equally distributed?

The pilot series is intended to engage US alumni of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and other thought leaders in higher education and research in a structured examination of key questions and issues for individual scholars and scientists, institutions of higher education and research, and governments as they seek to respond to the challenges presented by the globalization of knowledge production today. It is intended, in particular, to foster transatlantic learning in US institutions, which are actively considering the implications of the globalization of research for researcher mobility, US participation in international research exchanges and collaborations, and institutionaland national strategies for internationalization.

Subsequent panels will explore the implications of mobility for the quality of knowledge production and the scholarly and scientific enterprise as well as the role of bilateral cooperation between Germany and the United States in an age of global knowledge production. The four-part series will culminate in a public lecture co-sponsored with the GCRI in New York on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, featuring Humboldtian Dr. C. Daniel Mote, President of the National Academy of Engineering, and former president of the University of Maryland, College Park. AFAvH and GCRI look forward to continuing to engage strategic thinkers in higher education and research in a transatlantic and interdisciplinary conversation about the globalization of research and its implications for institutions, nations, and the research enterprise.

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