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August 27, 2001

Newby to cross new borders with ICIS

By Michael Terrazas


Gordon Newby has been executive director of the Institute for Compar-ative and International Studies (ICIS) only since June 1, but already he has big plans for the Emory College entity charged with the broad task of bringing the world home to campus.

Formerly director of Middle Eastern Studies, Newby is well acquainted with the sometimes amorphous work of ICIS. He knew going into the job that many people in the college are unaware of all the institute’s initiatives, and so one of his primary duties is to communicate to the University what ICIS entails and what it can do for Emory.

“My job,” Newby said, “is to help figure out what ‘internationalization’ is and help coordinate activities so that we’re all working together toward this common goal. The reason I took the job has to do with my vision of what comparative and international studies should be on this campus.”

Created in 1998 by former college Dean Steve Sanderson, ICIS is a diverse entity that comprises three area studies programs—the Institute of African Studies, Asian Studies, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies—the Center for International Programs Abroad, the Emory College Language Center (ECLC) and two faculty seminars that focus on comparative cultures and international economic and social development. In January the office moved from its previous home in Candler Library to the former Kinko’s building in Emory Village at 1385 Oxford Road.

Newby’s job is made easier by the fact that he can build on the solid foundation laid by previous executive director Howard Rollins. Under Rollins’ tenure, for example, the number of Emory undergraduates spending semesters abroad skyrocketed, jumping from just 27 students in 1996–97 to 227 in 1999–2000.

Rollins also strengthened language instruction by helping form the ECLC and its new high-tech teaching space in Woodruff Library.

Now, Newby said, the goal is to widen the umbrella.

Much of ICIS’ work has been directed toward social sciences and the humanities, and Newby would like to reach out to the pure sciences and fine arts and—in close collaboration with the faculty in question—expand international opportunities for those disciplines.

“It’s a tricky dance,” Newby said of making global opportunities available to students studying, say, biochemistry or neuroscience. With the world’s finest facilities and many of its leading minds located in the United States, the advantages of sending future scientists abroad might not be as readily apparent as those awaiting anthropology students, for example.

But Newby, who began his undergraduate education with the goal of becoming a physicist, said such experiences hold benefits that might not be obvious in the short term.

“We do more than ‘train’ people here at Emory—we educate,” Newby said. “The people who graduate from Emory are going to be leaders. They’re going to be called upon to make leadership decisions that go beyond the confines of their disciplines, and we need to educate people well—both specifically and broadly.”

Finally, Newby plans to accomplish this not only with the resources offered by the rest of the world, but those available right here in Atlanta and at Emory.

The city that played host to the 1996 Olympic Games has an increasingly global profile, with international communities scattered around the metropolitan area and growing each year.

Newby said by connecting with these communities, there are many opportunities for University students and faculty to share expertise and gain invaluable international experience in return.

Following the lead of Residential Services’ Students Program for International Cultural Exchange (SPICE) House, Newby hopes to design student housing arrangements at the Clairmont Campus that facilitate even more international exchange.

“We can fill in the gap between academics and the living experience with programming that is a mixture of both,” Newby said.


Back to Emory Report August 27, 2001