For nearly two decades now I have been actively engaged with higher education around the world (which provided the impetus for the establishment of the Global Perspectives Program). I have watched with great interest the emergence of the Bologna Process in Europe in 1999 and now the extension of the Bologna process for another 10 years. Universities around the world have been and are challenged to become 21st century universities and this requires change. There is no need to abandon the rich history of many universities, but change requires colleges and universities to rethink the who, how, where, when and even the why of higher education.
Universities around the world are grappling with a number of issues, many of which are local or national. These often differ by country, institutional structure, political climate, financial constraints and more. Recently, I have noticed that many European universities with the encouragement of the European University Association (EUA) are embracing some of the timely topics which are also lively topics within the United States. And these will inform the discussion of the participants during our journey known as #GPPVT18.
This is year 13 for the VT Graduate School Future Professoriate: Global Perspectives program (GPP) in Switzerland. Thirteen years and it seems like yesterday when I flew to Zurich to initiate the program. It is truly amazing how time passes so quickly and how much the program has evolved.
Although we visit the same countries (Switzerland, France, Italy) and the same universities in those countries, the same hotels and even some of the same restaurants, the experiences are different due to the GPP participants and the new places and people within the universities we visit. This year there are 13 graduate students traveling plus the GPP Graduate Assistant Abram and me. Abram was a participant last year and has switched roles for #GPPVT18. The participants come from 13 different degree programs located in five different colleges (4 from Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, 3 from Agriculture and Life Sciences, 3 from Engineering, 2 from Science). The diversity of academic disciplines, lived experiences, social identities and perspectives is rich and serves to enhance the experience. I look forward to meeting up with the group at Hotel St. Josef on Sunday, May 27th at 15.00 (3 pm).
Each year we identify a theme which focuses our attention on trends, challenges and issues facing higher education in Europe especially Switzerland. This year’s theme is “Evolving European and U.S. higher education”. The GPP’18 participants will explore four timely topic areas (teaching/learning, open access, inclusion/diversity and doctoral education) during the university visits, engage in group dialogue at the GPP summit in Riva San Vitale, and ultimately at the global seminar at the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington D.C. in June. The exploration of these topics will be invigorating and the dialogue rich.
Check out the website (futureprof.global), read our blogs, and follow up on twitter (#gppvt18).