Emory Report

December 7, 1998

 Volume 51, No. 14

New A&S institute crosses borders in international studies

Responding to a shift in how global affairs are viewed in the scholarly world, as well as streamlining and enhancing international efforts already under way on campus, Emory College has created the Arts and Sciences Institute for Comparative and International Studies (ICIS).

The new institute is the result of months of study by a faculty committee headed by Howard Rollins, director of the Center for International Programs Abroad (CIPA). Rollins, who will serve as ICIS director, said the institute's primary purpose is to bring together under an "umbrella-like organization" the various international initiatives going on in the college. As a part of the reorganization, area studies programs will be moved administratively into the institute and be housed together within new institute space in Candler Library.

"The sense has been that we're taking a kind of scattered approach to international scholarship and education in arts and sciences, and that we needed to become more coherent, more focused," Rollins said. "One of [ICIS's] primary goals is to try to coordinate, integrate and try to develop an overall strategic plan for international scholarship and education. ICIS can then help to fund new initiatives relating both to scholarship and to the curriculum."

Emory College Dean Steven Sanderson sent a letter to faculty announcing the new institute. The letter reiterated Arts & Science's commitment to "place-based scholarship" and indicated that the role of ICIS will be to strengthen faculty research and area studies programs, as well as to add a comparative component to existing international research. The overall goal of the institute and its programs, Sanderson wrote, will be to make area studies and international research and teaching stronger and more collaborative.

ICIS will be governed by an executive committee consisting in its first year primarily of faculty members who were part of the original planning committee; after this academic year arts and sciences faculty will participate in the selection of a new committee. The current committee not only includes representatives from the social sciences but also the humanities and the pure sciences. But rather than looking out for their individual fiefdoms, during the planning committee members tried to concentrate on how to better address international studies across all disciplines.

"I didn't really view myself as the 'scientist' on the committee," said George Jones, Goodrich C. White Professor of Biology. "I looked at myself as a citizen of the University, a citizen of the college, whose background and expertise might be valuable in helping come to some conclusions about how to put this entity together."

Area studies and international research and teaching have been undergoing significant changes in many American universities and abroad. As a response to these changes the Ford Foundation developed a program, "Crossing Borders: Revitalizing Area Studies," to foster closer collaboration between those doing area studies and international research and to produce in universities a shift in resource allocation that will reward faculty conducting interdisciplinary research and teaching on area studies and comparative international topics.

The Emory Center for International Studies (now incorporated into ICIS) was one of 30 grantees selected from 210 institutions applying for support under Crossing Borders. Emory's goal for the $50,000 grant, directed by Professor Ivan Karp, is to make comparative studies more responsive to locale and region and to make area studies more comparative.

"The idea is to build on the knowledge generated by faculty who have an interest in a particular region of the world, like Latin America or Africa," Rollins said. "It's to build bridges and look at commonalities-such as industrialization, for example--and be comparative of what is happening in different parts of the world, to look at common themes that emerge."

"The College will commit additional funds to comparative and international studies, but it will be essential not merely to replicate an approach that is increasingly in doubt," Sanderson wrote. "Nor should we create an institute that adopts internationalism without an appreciation for place, culture, history and language."

Crossing Borders will culminate in a spring symposium on campus, and Rollins said ICIS is planning another symposium examining the future role of area studies for fall 1999.

Physically, ICIS will occupy a space in Candler Library next to the Center for International Programs Abroad, for which Rollins will continue to serve as director though he will cede much of the day-to-day responsibilities to Associate Director Philip Wainwright.

Many of the details of ICIS' role remain to be determined, such as how the institute will interact with other campus international studies offices such as the new Halle Institute for Global Learning. "The Halle Institute is still new and is still in its first cycle of faculty seminars," said Tom Remington, the first Halle Professor. "The arts and sciences institute is still new. The Halle Institute will have, as it does now, a Universitywide jurisdiction or relationship. It will try to draw together faculty from several schools of the University; [ICIS] is specifically within arts and sciences and will be focused very much on the college and the graduate school."

--Michael Terrazas

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