Emory Report

 September 15, 1997

 Volume 50, No. 4

Remington discusses his plans
for global learning institute

Thomas Remington, the first Claus M. Halle Professor for Global Learning, has the responsibility of working with the new Halle Institute to promote and support international research and teaching across the University. Michael Terrazas, senior editor of Emory Report, sat down with Remington to discuss his plans for the three-year term of the Halle professorship.

What is the primary way you will tackle this rather large responsibility?

Remington: The plan that was proposed to the University and to Mr. Halle for the way that the professorship would work was that the incumbent would organize a faculty seminar. The person has a good deal of leeway in designing the seminar, but there are some desiderata the University and Mr. Halle have expressed, among them the idea that all of the schools at the University should have a chance to be in closer contact in promoting international education.

The University is rich in faculty teaching and research bearing on comparative studies, international studies, policy studies and the like, but they are somewhat disconnected. So one of the goals of this professorship and the faculty seminar is to help link people when they have overlapping interests but maybe are not in regular contact with each other.

Another objective the University has expressed with Mr. Halle was that the gift be used for faculty development to help faculty acquire greater exposure to the outside world, to expand their research horizons and to acquire skills and interests that will help them as teachers as well, given that we all recognize that we're afflicted with parochialism in one form or another. All of us, to some degree, are limited in our ability to encompass this enormously changing and developing phenomenon of global integration.

How far along are you in the planning process for this seminar?

I'm in the early stages. My proposal offered a European focus to the faculty seminar. The premise that we are now seeing the emergence of an undivided Europe provides the academic stimulus as well as the regional focus for the seminar. Beyond that, my proposal, which I'm fleshing out as I discuss it with people, is based on the three-year time frame for this appointment. The first year, which is 1997-98, will have a political focus. The second year will have an economic focus, and the third will be security. In each year, we hope to gather a small group of faculty who will meet regularly in order to share their research ideas and plans and findings bearing on the problem of the seminar, whatever the core theme of the seminar is in a given year.

It is my hope that we will discuss the emergence of new political institutions within countries and across Europe, the integration of minorities and the balance of majority, minority and individual rights, particularly given the emergence of the virulent social cleavages and problems relating to migration, refugees and cross-regional relations. How do we integrate communities that are different in their cultures, in their religions, in their ethnic identities, into larger identities that are based on democratic and political values?

What form exactly will the seminar take?

The seminar will take a final shape depending on the interests of the people who participate in it. Ideally, we'd have about a dozen people. We want very much for junior faculty to be involved as well as senior faculty. We want faculty from a range of schools and units of the University, representing different disciplines, different regional or country expertise. We would meet regularly through the spring semester, every week or every other week, and we would share our research findings. Then, at the conclusion of the seminar, we would go overseas, probably to one city in Europe-for example, in central Europe-where we see these processes of the merging of old and new institutions dramatically unfolding before us.

If it turned out that a lot of faculty were interested in participating, much more than a dozen, how would you accommodate that many?

In that case, we might have to apply a criterion of how close people's interests are to the themes of the seminar, so that we ensure the seminar is coherent. Otherwise, we'll end up being in a position where many different people have interests that don't really overlap at all.

The idea here is that through a faculty seminar you have a cascade of benefits rippling outward. You have knowledge that can be disseminated and shared and discussed and disputed more widely. Through the faculty seminar, you allow people to bring ideas from the seminar into their own spheres of academic work, whether it's their professional associations, their research or their teaching. We'd very much like to see the results of the seminar reflected in people's courses; ideally, we would see new courses created.

What is the relationship between the Halle professorship and the institute?

The institute and the professorship were jointly conceived-the institute will be ongoing, and its director is Marion Creekmore, who is also the vice provost of international affairs and director of the office of international programs. Right now, the faculty seminar is the main interest of the institute. Depending on how it unfolds, the institute can help integrate other entities on campus that aren't involved with the seminar and offer support and communication, at a minimum, and perhaps budget support as well as intellectual support to other centers on campus. As time goes on, we'll see more fully how the Halle Institute is going to take form.

What exactly does the "internationalization of Emory" mean in practical terms?

Our university, like all American universities, has to encourage faculty and students to become more aware of this increasingly dense set of interconnections that we're part of globally. For example, the professions-law, medicine, business, teaching, etc.-are all now increasingly part of global professions. The standards of professions are increasingly global.

What we're trying to do through the Halle professorship and other initiatives at Emory is to help people understand the ways in which we are affected by trends outside the country and the ways in which we affect those trends. One answer is the academic side: what do these changes in the world mean for how we divide up the curricular pie? The other is the human dimension; don't we want to bring over more people so we can understand the way in which they see the world, the contributions they can make to our learning? Don't we want to send our students overseas more?

We're all affected by the internationalization of the labor market. It's not that this is new-it's that it's speeding up. The globalization and integration of labor, capital and cultural markets is speeding up. That's what is creating the challenge for us. And that's what we're going to try to understand a little bit better and cope with a little bit better through these new vehicles.

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