On global engagement

On Thursday, Feb. 22, the Boston College Global Engagement Committee will hold the first of two town halls to discuss how the University can enlarge its international presence. Committee co-chair Alberto Godenzi, former dean of the BC School of Social Work and a special advisor to the president, discusses the significance of the initiative ahead of the Feb. 22 event, which takes place at 3 p.m. in Devlin 227.

Alberto Godenzi
BC Global Engagement Committee co-chair Alberto Godenzi.

What’s the reason for this town hall? Give us an idea of what to expect.

Boston College’s Strategic Plan commits the University to increase its presence and impact around the globe. While such a commitment can have many forms, it is imperative to engage BC’s constituents in determining the why, what, where, and how of global engagement. A town hall setting provides a unique forum to exchange ideas, suggestions, and concerns. Moreover, it will provide an opportunity to inform the BC community about the purpose and various stages of the initiative.

What does “global engagement” mean?

Global engagement means internationalizing learning in and outside of the classroom, student mobility, faculty global engagement, and global partnerships. It’s about productive collaborations with universities, NGOs, religious organizations, governmental agencies, foundations, businesses, communities, and individual stakeholders. These relationships are grounded in mutuality, trust, feasibility, sustainability, and solidarity.

As an institution, BC engages in global settings when the international activity is aligned with the University’s mission, strengths, and priorities.

Why is global engagement so important for BC?

Jack Butler, S.J., BC’s vice president for University Mission and Ministry, says it best: “To be human is to be global.” Boston College has evolved from a local to a national to an international university. Today, many of our faculty are engaged in global activities, and the number of international students is at a new high. Moreover, we have a strong global base of loyal alumni. A strategic and coordinated approach to global engagement will allow us to be more intentional and more effective in our international endeavors. This in return will increase opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Global awareness and global competence are essential skills in today’s interconnected world. An enhanced global brand will position us well to address complex issues of our time and to engage in meaningful and impactful partnerships.

Isn’t global engagement something that only affects faculty? Why should students be interested?

Global engagement touches every constituent of a university. Our interviews with undergraduate and graduate students demonstrated that they are keenly interested in a more globally engaged university. An internationally infused curriculum will equip them with crucial knowledge for pursuing exciting academic and professional goals. Expanded study abroad opportunities in academically rigorous environments will allow them to deepen their expertise and broaden their perspectives. The on-campus presence of international students and scholars enriches our community and benefits the 50 percent of our undergraduate student population who for various reasons can’t take advantage of study-abroad opportunities.

Tell us about the Global Engagement Committee – what are you trying to accomplish?

The committee is comprised of faculty, staff, and students from across the University. Our president, William P. Leahy, S.J., charged us to develop recommendations for an increased presence and impact around the world, based on an assessment of our current international activities and those of our peers. We met with close to 100 faculty, staff, and students to learn more about ongoing initiatives and strengths, and we analyzed the global strategies of 22 peer institutions of higher education.

In the weeks to come, we’ll explore which external trends will present opportunities and challenges for our strategic direction. By the fall, we hope to be able to present a compelling vision, strategy, structure, and implementation plan to the University’s senior leadership.

You can learn more about global engagement at BC through a newly launched website, at www.bc.edu/global.

–Sean Smith | University Communications