September 5, 2000
Volume 53, No. 2
Europe trips illustrate Emory's globalization efforts
By Elizabeth Kurylo
When two Emory professors took a Confederate flag to Germany in May, they got widely varyied views on what it means when displayed there.
"Most people have no clue what it means," said one student who attended a guest lecture by Professors Allen Tullos and Jim Roark at the Free University of Berlin. But another student insisted that people who display the Confederate flag in Germany use it as a substitute for the Nazi swastika, whose display is banned under German law.
"What you just showed us is a symbol of treason and guilt," said a German professor in the audience, adding that he couldn't understand why the Confederate flag continues to fly over Southern state capitals. "I have never understood the tenacity, the unwillingness of state legislatures to pull down the flag from the capitals."
The candid conversation occurred during a three-week study trip to Germany taken by 13 professors from disciplines across Emory. But they weren't the only faculty members traveling overseas recently. Others, including President Bill Chace and Provost Rebecca Chopp, were in other parts of Europe, teaching, presenting research and telling the world about Emory.
Chace and Chopp made a two-week trip to Belgium and Germany, meeting with leaders from business, education, government and philanthropic organizations, as well as graduates and friends of Emory. During a stop in Berlin, they took note of all the Emory activity in Europe, citing it as further evidence of the University's growing international aura.
"I never thought I'd be on the streets of Berlin running into so many professors from Emory," Chopp said at a dinner attended by faculty and alumni. "This is a great moment in our effort to internationalize the University."
While one group was in Germany, a dozen other professors were at a conference in Budapest, Hungary, presenting research papers on social, political and economic changes in post-Cold War Europe. Also in Budapest, Law School Dean Woody Hunter was teaching U.S. law to Eastern European lawyers who attend the Central European University (CEU).
Law School Professor Tibor Varady also teaches at CEU, splitting his time between Budapest and Atlanta. At the University of Dresden in Germany, Professor Polly Price was teaching American law to German students. Also at Dresden is Professor Peter Hay, who splits his time between both sides of the pond, as well.
Chace said the international momentum at Emory is exciting. "This is an experience we could never have imagined," he said. "We are here at a chapter of the university that we can celebrate-we, in this time, are present at the creation of a very different Emory."
Other members of the Chace delegation included his wife, JoAn; Claus Halle, benefactor of the Halle Institute for Global Learning; University Secretary Gary Hauk; and Glenn Kellum, associate vice president for international relations.
In numerous meetings, they talked about Emory and its international goals and explored the possibility of forging ties with research and educational institutions in the region. The group also was briefed about sweeping political, social, cultural, economic and educational changes in Europe since the European Union was established in 1993.
In addition to Brussels in Belgium, the Chace delegation visited officials in the German cities of Dresden, Berlin, Munich, Cologne, Essen, Bonn and Frankfurt. They also met with human rights organizations and nonprofit groups such as the Auschwitz Foundation.
The faculty study trip to Germany and the conference in Budapest were programs of the Halle Institute. In both cases, professors came together from a wide range of disciplines across the University.
The group that went to Germany included professors from anthropology, history, music, public health, law, environmental studies and the Institute for Liberal Arts (ILA). They had only one thing in common: none was an expert on Germany.
Roark, a history professor, joked that it was strange to have lack of knowledge as a prerequisite for participation. But he and others said they welcomed the opportunity to learn about another country and culture, and they gathered information and made contacts that would help them in their research and teaching.
In addition, some professors invited students in Germany to consider coming to Emory. Tullos, a professor in American Studies, said he met two graduate students in Berlin who will be attending Emory in the fall.
Chopp noted that there had been some skepticism about Halle's proposal to take faculty to a part of the world they didn't know much about. "Mr. Halle believed it was important to bring faculty who were not exposed to a certain area of the world to that area of the world so they could learn things," she said. After talking to the professors, who described the trip as intense and eye-opening, Chopp was convinced it had been a good idea.
A highlight of the Germany trip was the chance for each faculty member to either teach a class or meet with colleagues in German universities. Chopp said the group would return to Atlanta "with a much broader understanding of what is happening in Germany today." She added that they will share this knowledge with their students, thereby increasing the value of the trip.
The faculty visited six German cities, meeting with leaders in government, business, education, culture, law, banking and media. They sought to gain a better understanding of contemporary Germany and such issues as immigration, the European Union and the challenges surrounding the unification of East and West Germany. They also gained insights into the country's history and traditions.
By contrast, the professors in Budapest were focused on their own research into changes in Europe since the end of the Cold War. They had been meeting twice a month since January as part of the Halle Faculty Seminar led by Thomas Remington, Halle Distinguished Professor. They went to Budapest to have their work critiqued by scholars from Paris, Brussels, Budapest and Dublin.
Meeting in Budapest gave the faculty a unique perspective on their research, Remington said. "The opportunity to physically be in a recently democratized central European country enabled people to get a sense of what the Europeans are thinking," he said. "At one time, it was in the heart of what was called Eastern Europe. And now, since the fall of the Soviet Union, this is a place that is opening up."
The Budapest meeting and the Halle Faculty Seminar also allow faculty to develop as many overseas ties as possible, Remington said. "Developing these ties allows Emory scholars to broaden their base. These European scholars may be able to suggest where to find additional data. Their expertise helps generate even more research possibilities."
Several professors said the European scholars made specific suggestions about how to improve their papers and where find additional information. Economics Professor Ujjayant Chakravorty said this was very helpful because most professors had used U.S. sources for their European research.
"What I learned [about] was the local issues [in Europe] that would
complement the type of research I do, which is the politics of climate change,"
Chakravorty said. "It is helpful for me to know what a Hungarian or
a European Union person might think about the issues I study."