September 26 , 2005
Bridging the Silos
It is a great irony in higher education that, in today’s era of ever-increasing specialization, academic disciplines are more interdependent than ever before in their search for truth. Advances in neuroscience may hold tremendous value to the religious scholar mining the verities of faith; the historian and the playwright could shine new light on the past by bringing it back to life. While acknowledging that other universities have prospered by allowing individual schools to flourish in relative isolation, Emory is choosing a different path. Or bridge, if you will.
Not only will the University work to build strong schools and academic, research and operating units, but it also will focus attention on five Strategic Themes that depend on the success of all units. We do this consciously, under the strategic philosophy that the sum of Emory’s parts—working together in collaborative partnership, leveraging each other’s strengths—can ultimately achieve far more than they could on their own. All themes are aligned with one or more of the University’s goals, are supported through several initiatives that touch every corner of campus, and will be implemented in concert with the school and unit plans. None is mutually exclusive. Each arose from a critical mass already present at Emory.
Every member of the Emory community—faculty, staff, student, trustee, patient, neighbor, even alumnus and alumna—is invited and encouraged to embrace these themes, and to think of new efforts that could fit under the broader rubrics. Too often, and in a time when it is perhaps least advisable to do so, higher education functions on a multiversity model, with a given institution’s components working separately from—indeed, sometimes in competition with—one another. By building and reinforcing the bridges that crisscross our campus, Emory will become a model for what a true university can accomplish in the 21st century.
Strengthening Faculty Distinction
Emory’s faculty are the primary drivers of its academic direction. The University needs faculty who influence conversation and expand knowledge within their respective disciplines. To be sure, additional financial support is critical to attracting and retaining the very best faculty, but perhaps just as important are new initiatives in nurturing excellent young talent and helping faculty develop over their career, and tenure and promotion policies that recognize traditional scholarship while acknowledging the breadth of contributions professors make to their academic homes.
A pair of new positions in the provost’s office—devoted to academic planning and faculty development; and to community, diversity and institutional development—will help the University realize its goal of strengthening faculty distinction, which is universal across all schools and research centers.
By 2010, Emory plans to grow its faculty by 12 percent, creating a depth of resources in targeted areas; expand strategic areas and draw commensurate external research funding; provide resources for expanded
student mentoring and academic programming; and improve overall student-faculty ratios, especially in
Other initiatives required to build a distinctive faculty include providing funds for library and computing resources; creating support and administrative structures and policies for interdisciplinary work; building library collections in all formats; and upgrading facilities for special collections and the Carlos Museum.
Preparing Engaged Scholars
Emory’s second theme is directed squarely at the group that serves as both resource for and product of the University’s efforts: its students. This theme is intended to help students become the best contributors to themselves, their communities, their nation and their world.
Emory students will emerge from campus as rigorous thinkers, having wrestled with the vexing challenges of both historic and contemporary human existence from a variety of perspectives. They will be equipped with proven skills and values in community involvement, highly sought by prospective employers. Perhaps most important of all, they will have been inculcated with a respect and love for the life of the mind, driven to view their commencement ceremony not as the finish line of education but as another marker in a life’s pursuit—one which yields its own rewards.
The resources we will bring to bear on this issue are considerable and range from the classroom to campus life, from financial aid to the varsity athletic field and out into the community beyond Emory’s borders. Some of our initiatives include:
• building and renovating our residential facilities so that 80 percent of Emory students are housed on campus;
• expanding our commitment to service and outreach through successful programs such as Volunteer Emory and the Kenneth Cole Fellowship in Community Building and Social Change, and by integrating service-learning into curricula; and
• revising faculty reward and promotion systems to recognize service, including advising and mentoring efforts made outside the classroom.
Creating Community-Engaging Society
In more ways than not, a vibrant, well-functioning university resembles a small town, and any healthy town is composed of an interconnected community of individuals living and working together in an atmosphere of diversity, openness and respect. Creating such a community is the intent of Emory’s third theme; by the time baby boomers begin to retire and competition for qualified, talented labor intensifies, the University will have distinguished itself as a preferred employer, as a destination in which faculty and staff can achieve their full potential.
The realization of this goal will come in several forms. Management excellence will be a hallmark of the Emory workplace. The University will devote itself fully to establishing a more ethnically, racially, socioeconomically and intellectually diverse community. Emory will urge faculty and staff to consider issues of sustainability—economic, political, environmental and health-related—in all areas of pedagogy, professional planning and execution, and daily conduct. And Emory, currently the third largest private employer in Georgia, will facilitate all of this by providing and funding opportunities for professional development of faculty and staff at all levels. Other initiatives include:
• identifying faculty and staff (especially women and minorities) with leadership potential and fostering their development;
• becoming an employer of choice in the local education and health care market; and
• supporting and encouraging staff to participate in University and community activities.
Confronting the Human Condition and Human Experience
No university that is committed to producing new knowledge can dare shy away from confronting timeless and timely questions of the human condition and the human experience. If universities are to fulfill their implicit social contract with the larger society, they must stand up and confront the most pressing issues with which society grapples. Indeed, universities are uniquely positioned to do just that in a vast, intellectual laboratory characterized by respectful dissension. Through a comprehensive process involving several hundred members of the community at all levels, Emory has identified three University-wide initiatives.
1. Understanding Religions and the Human Spirit.
Too often in top-tier research universities, the study of religion is marginalized. This attitude belittles a cultural institution that has bound human communities together since the beginning of history and still commands an inestimable influence on contemporary human affairs.
In contrast, Emory has capitalized on its roots in Methodism to foster a community in which serious analysis of religion—faith, theory and practice—occupies a central role in academic life. The Graduate Division of Religion is ranked in the top five nationally among graduate programs, and several interdisciplinary centers focusing on religion have garnered well-deserved praise and attention.
To understand religion in the context of art, music, language and social interactions is one of the endeavors of this cross-cutting initiative. Its goal is to explore the broadest features of the human condition, to juxtapose the study of religions and the human spirit. The University can achieve distinction in four areas:
• Religion, Law and Public Policy;
• Religion, Health and Professional Practices;
• Religion, Identity and Conflict; and
• Religion, Culture and Critical Inquiry
Given its own religious pluralism as perhaps the most religiously diverse university in the Southeast, Emory is poised to set the lead agenda for the study of religion—and, by doing so, to contribute to policy and practice
in a world imperiled by religious conflict.
2. Understanding Race and Difference.
This initiative draws on Emory’s almost unique ability to bring together a cross section of faculty and scholars, including humanists, social scientists and life scientists, to study race and social difference in the era of the genome. This initiative has broad social, biological, medical and ethical implications.
Given its history as an institution that has battled its share of social demons conjured by race, its strengths in science and health-disparities research, and its location in a city many consider the cradle of the U.S. civil rights movement, Emory faces a strategic opportunity for the study of racial difference that is simply too great to ignore. The University has an opportunity to lead in such areas as:
• Race, Science and Social Translation;
• Race, Community and the Emory Curriculum;
• Difference, Diversity and the International Community;
• Conflict Resolution and Social Engagement; and
• Difference, Gender and Sexuality.
Even as this report is being prepared, a broad, multi-year effort called the Transforming Community Project is getting under way to take a comprehensive look at the history of race at Emory and how the University can create a more harmonious and respectful community. Launched by faculty in Emory College, the five-year program will examine the University’s origins and historical struggles around race, develop an honest assessment of where it stands today, and propose solutions that could enable Emory to serve as a model for a diverse community that thrives through creative dissension and mutual respect. Using this project and a number of excellent academic departments and programs as a point of embarkation, Emory can make fresh, vigorous and informed contributions to another of humanity’s age-old debates.
3. Implementing Pathways to Global Health.
Great as the chemical and technological advances in health care have been in the last century, they cannot by themselves meet the global health challenges of the 21st century. Simple economics dictates that a more broad-based approach—one that takes into account determinants of health and disease to design appropriate responses from all sectors of society—must distinguish the course. And that course must be characterized by an acknowledgment that public health workers often are “guests in their neighbor’s vineyard,” working with local cultures in an atmosphere of respect.
Atlanta has been called “the public health capital of the world” with its concentration of organizations such as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Carter Center, the American Cancer Society, CARE and others. Students and faculty working with each of these institutions already are in the field, meeting health challenges in all corners of the globe.
The University will create a Global Health Institute (GHI) to provide leadership and coordination, to nurture new collaborations, to supply seed funding, to facilitate curricular innovation and to serve as an intellectual breeding ground for new ideas in tackling the global health challenge.
Specific initiatives include:
• adding postdoctoral and senior fellows from diverse disciplines related to global health;
• developing interreligious literacy programs that will allow Emory students to approach and engage other cultures with respect; and
• coordinating with efforts devoted to race and difference to develop a blueprint and timeline for measurable, achievable action.
Exploring New Frontiers in Science and Technology
Partnered with social responsibility as a hallmark of higher education is research innovation. The 21st century will witness dramatic, as-yet-unimaginable advances in science and technology; the same grass-roots examination of opportunities and strengths that identified clear paths in the previous section has found three University-wide initiatives in which Emory can provide leadership.
1. Neuroscience, Human Nature and Society.
This initiative reflects Emory’s desire to apply the knowledge gained through neuroscientific approaches to the central questions of human nature and uniqueness to meet crucial societal needs. New understandings of how mind and brain work—or even how they are defined—continue to provide insights into such disparate fields as pharmacology and religion, music and sociology.
Emory is ideally positioned to achieve distinction in neuroscience through resources such as integrative programs that link arts and sciences with health sciences and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Four areas present opportunities for the University to lead:
• Neurobiology of Well-Being and Disease;
• Evolution and Human Uniqueness;
• Interdisciplinary Study of Human Nature; and
• Neuroscience and Public Policy.
Emory will develop a Comprehensive Clinical and Translational Neuroscience Center that will integrate translational research, clinical care and education, extending beyond the health sciences and drawing on faculty and programs from public health, law, business, the arts and beyond.
2. Predictive Health and Society.
Contemporary “health care” is too often a misnomer; what actually exists is more accurately termed “disease care.” Emerging technology and enabling academic disciplines are turning this paradigm on its head.
Emory and its partner institutions have the ability to lead in the basic science and discovery of predictive health and, more uniquely, by addressing the issue from a broader perspective than simply new technology.
Such capacities include:
• combining technological expertise at Emory and Georgia Tech in areas such as nanobiology, imaging and genetics/metabolomics;
• integrating science, technology, ethics, humanities, law, business, health policy and economics. Successful and widely adapted advances in predictive health will require society-wide approaches similar to those applied in global health. Indeed, the two themes go hand in hand;
• moving from cellular to societal sciences. Scholarly rigor is required to identify and design social models that will function to implement a new health care system; and
• building bridges between population and individual health. Emory’s model will build on the expertise in population health and the opportunity to bring population-based principles together with the science, technology and individual focus. The opportunity to integrate these areas is special and unique. Emory’s established institutional practices and partnerships with local, national and international organizations in global health will feed its efforts in predictive health, and vice versa.
3. Life Sciences.
Fundamental scientific research—and providing basic scientific literacy for tomorrow’s scientists—remains vital to the mission of Emory and the success of the nation. American universities, once the unquestioned destination for students of science from around the globe, face increasing challenges from the international market in science education.
To build stronger bridges between basic and applied science, Emory will enhance the size and scholarly strengths of all science departments and programs. Extensions of current research at the interface of the life sciences with chemistry, physics, and mathematics are essential to an understanding of the human condition through expansion of basic scientific knowledge, to solving existing health crises and understanding emerging diseases, and to developing new approaches for the education of future scientists.
Emory’s planned initiatives include:
• capitalizing on interdepartmental collaborations and fostering strong partnerships with health sciences;
• realization of a physical “Science Village” in the area of campus surrounding the existing Atwood Chemistry Center, Cherry Logan Emerson Hall and the Math & Science Center; and
• directing resources toward improving research infrastructure, adding faculty and postdoctoral fellows, and upgrading facilities.