Global Deans

In a recent blog, I wrote about our individual pathways and the Tour de Academe.  On Sunday, July 22nd our individual pathways converged in Paris and our collective journey started.  And now, the week-long Graduate Deans Global Perspectives program ’12 (GPGradDeans) has come to an end.  Our last meeting was a joint gathering with GPP Switzerland alumni from Virginia Tech and University of Basel at VT’s Center for European Studies and Architecture (CESA). Rich discussions were held and insights gathered.

During the program, the Graduate Deans visited University of Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC) and the historic Sorbonne University, the University of Strasbourg, the University of Basel, and the University of Zurich. We discussed graduate education and the future of higher education with Presidents (Rectors) from three universities. We learned about their versions of graduate schools (e.g., doctoral college, graduate campus). We met with administrators and faculty.  And our program began with dialogue with colleagues from the European University Association (EUA).  For details of our visit, see itinerary and read associated links.

This visit was nestled between the end of the Tour de France In Paris and the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games. The weather was perfect throughout the week (Paris, Strasbourg, Basel, Zurich, Lugano) – a little hot at times but virtually no rain.  Our visits required the use of three languages beyond English: French, German (more precisely Swiss German) and Italian. The cuisine spanned countries and cultures. We traveled by plane, bus, tram, metro, train, and quite often by foot – sometimes up hill and sometimes with luggage. Lakes, mountains, rivers, plains, and terraced hills (e.g., vines) surrounded us daily.  A collective journey of shared experiences and individual reflections….we have taken photos, blogged, and tweeted.  We had readers following our blogs and “followers” on twitter (@kpdepauw, @GPPVT and more).  We had families traveling with us who shared in our experiences on a daily basis.

The Global Perspectives program has touched many lives across many universities, many countries and across many years.  As a result, I believe that the Graduate Deans and GPP alumni now share in the responsibility to expand the reach and enrich the global experiences and perspectives of others.  It has been my great pleasure to share personal and professional experiences with my graduate dean colleagues.  Thank you for joining me on this adventure toward greater global understanding and enhanced global graduate education.



Collaborative experience for graduate deans & GPP alumni

Our flights are booked.  Hotel rooms reserved.  Restaurants prepared to share their cuisine.  Our academic and university hosts are eager to welcome us.  And of course, the Virginia Tech Center for European Studies and Architecture (CESA) is prepared for the arrival of the graduate deans and the GPP alumni.  After hundreds of emails, numerous meetings, many phone calls and lots of discussions across nearly 9 months, the plans have been finalized for the Graduate Deans Global Experience (July 22 -27) and the GPP alumni reunion (July 26-27).  Enthusiasm appears high and we are ready.  Follow our experiences through our blogs (Global Perspectives, Graduate Deans, or individual blogs) and follow us on twitter (@kpdepauw).


Tour de Academe – Tour de France

On July 22, 2012 the Tour de Academe (Graduate Deans’ Global Perspectives Program) begins in Paris just as the Tour de France ends.  The cyclists will ride along the Champs-Élysées to finish Stage 20.  Shortly after the Tour de France awards ceremony near the Arc de Triomphe, we will join  our hosts for the reception and dinner on the 24th floor of the University of Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC) with a striking view of Paris including the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower (not shown in this photo), the Louvre, and much more.

The 2012 Global Perspectives Program – Graduate Deans begins at 3pm (1500) at Hotel Maxim in the Latin Quarter, Paris with our first meeting of the graduate deans who have chosen to participate in this experience.  This program is a natural extension of the Global Perspectives Program offered through Virginia Tech Graduate School and through the University of Basel.  For more information, please visit the GPP graduate deans blog.

Program ends but process continues

Lukas said it.  Justin tweeted it.  We all felt it (perhaps also the audience at the Swiss Embassy).  The 2012 Global Perspectives Program (GPP) has come to “the end but the global perspectives process continues”.

The global seminar on “access to and within higher education” at the Embassy of Switzerland on June 15, 2012 officially ended the GPP’12 program.  The well attended event featured a keynote presentation by Karin Fischer, Senior Reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education on the topic of access to higher education.  The GPP’12 participants from Virginia Tech, University of Basel and the University of Lund shared their reflections on access to and within through panel presentations and discussion with the audience.  Key highlights of conference are available via twitter.

During my drive back to Blacksburg, I took time to reflect upon GPP’12 and take note of the many and varied aspects of the program, the interactions with each of the participants, and the ways in which the program has once again changed our lives.  As seen through my lens, the program was indeed very successful! Thanks to all who participated, organized and contributed to the program’s success (UniBasel, Embassy of Switzerland, University of Lund, VT).  I am grateful to each person because I know that one’s active engagement with the Global Perspectives program truly is making a difference and contributing to the overall success of the program.   And of course, to the process of preparing global citizens through global conversations.  Keep up the good work and let the conversations continue!

In July, I will lead a group of U.S. Graduate Deans on a similar global experience.  Thus, the program expands and the process continues.

For more information about the Global Perspectives program, please follow this blog, the Global Perspectives blog, twitter, and Face Book –GPP UniBasel.


An early train from Capolago-Riva San Vitale through the Swiss Alps to Zurich.  Mostly quiet enjoying the views and lost in my thoughts about the 2012 Global Perspectives program.  A special experience which none of us wanted to end.

It was great to share time with colleagues from UniBasel and Lund at CESA exploring access and higher education.  The conversations will continue and not just in Blacksburg and at the Swiss Embassy.   Let’s continue the dialogue and make global higher education our shared reality. Thanks to all!

Global citizens

In a recent article entitled “Global citizenship: What are we talking about and why does it matter?”, Madeleine F. Green offered her reflections about global citizenship.   The electronic version of the article traveling rapidly throughout the international education communities and beyond.  There are many within community and outside international education that are wrestling with terms such as internationalization, global education and global citizenship.  The conversation has been ongoing for many years so that topic is not new but embracing a global perspective seems to be ever more critical in today’s world.

For many, you know that I would definitely be seen as an advocate for enabling individuals to become global citizens.  Obviously this would be most apparent in the Graduate School’s commitment to global higher education through the Transformative Graduate Education initiative and more specifically through the future professoriate global perspectives program.  The Global Perspectives blog stands as a visible representation of the growing interest in “understanding global”.

I hope that most of the broader university community would be in agreement with Green’s statement that the world would be a better place if colleges and universities could “produce graduates with knowledge and the disposition to be global citizens”.  From my perspective, “producing graduates” would apply not just to the undergraduate experience but to graduate students as an integral component of their preparation as the future leaders, scientists, scholars, artists, and educators.  Further, it is my firm belief that university administrators should engage and encourage the faculty and staff at our colleges and universities to become more engaged with a global understanding of the world.  Although the most frequent example of global engagement is study abroad, not everyone can have this experience.  And therefore, establishing global understanding among all of the university constituencies would require that global awareness and understanding come not only from experiences abroad but also from authentic global experiences “at home”.   This would be a challenge but should be among the goals of a 21st century university.

In the quest toward “producing” global citizens, colleges and universities will need to envision and develop programs and opportunities (abroad and at home) that are meaningful and relevant, incorporate active participation and individual engagement, and designed intentionally toward reaching the goal of global understanding.  These programs and opportunities are critical but perhaps most important is the realization that the journey towards becoming a global citizen must begin with introspection, a greater understanding of one’s own cultural context(s) and how these influence every day life to inform ourselves as global citizens.

The VT Future Professoriate Program stands as an example through which the study abroad (global perspectives program) and study-at-home (GRAD 5104) portions help prepare future faculty as global citizens.  The partnership with UniBasel provides a similar experience starting in Basel and then a visit to selected universities in the US.  This year, participants from the University of Lund will join us at CESA in Riva San Vitale for a global graduate education seminar.  Although as participants in the 2012 Future Professoriate global perspectives program our individual journeys began from our unique place, the journeys have begun to converge and become enriched by the shared space and common experiences on the path to greater global understanding and becoming an informed citizen of our global society.


Sorbonne and Strasbourg

Two great universities – the Sorbonne (Paris – Sorbonne University) and the University of Strasbourg.  Each has a long history and rich traditions.   Visiting each of these recently only reinforced their place in history of higher education, especially French higher education. They have stood the test of time.  And yet over the years, they have changed and there is more change to come.  I learned during the recent visit that the universities in Paris including the University of Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC) will be engaged in merger and transformation – quite a significant change I imagine.  We will watch with great interest.   

These two universities will play an important role in the visits of the Global Perspectives programs organized for this summer.  In May 2012, the Future Professoriate Global Perspectives program participants will visit the University of Strasbourg as part of our visit to universities of the Upper Rhine and partners of the University of Basel.  While in Strasbourg, we will visit the campus and learn first-hand about the the University, the Doctoral Schools, and the French system of higher education.

 In July 2012, the new global perspectives program designed for graduate deans from U.S. universities will visit the Sorbonne (the UPMC and other universities in Paris) as well as the University of Strasbourg.  It will be quite wonderful to experience the visit with two different groups (graduate deans, graduate students) and to watch as the streets of Paris reveal the universities hidden in plain sight and as the tram meanders the streets of Strasbourg and onto the central campus of the University of Strasbourg.

The meaning of global

At a recent conference of international educators (AIEA –, representatives from VT, University of Basel and the Swiss Embassy in Washington DC served on a panel on the topic of global graduate education.  The focus of the discussion was on the Preparing the Future Professoriate Global Perspectives program and the U.S. – Swiss partnership.  After we described the program, the use of the term “global” was questioned due to the fact that our visits were limited to selected countries within continental Europe (e.g. France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany) or Chile.

The point raised by an audience member was a good one and prompted me to reflect on the term “global”.  While it is true the VT global perspectives program includes visits to selected universities and countries only, I would argue that the program provides a first hand experience that helps us to acknowledge differences around the world and embrace a perspective beyond our own country of origin.  The discussions in GRAD 5104 Preparing the Future Professoriate and brief presentations by international students provide a glimpse into higher education in various countries around the world.  The monthly seminars of the Global Perspectives group prior to departure provide the opportunity for more intentional focus on selected universities and countries.  Interactions among the participants enrich our understandings of each other in that not all of the VT participants are U.S citizens and not all University of Basel participants are Swiss.   We learn from each other about national perspectives, language and cultural differences and much more.  While “global” might signify the world, the experiences of the Global Perspectives program can plant the seeds and open our eyes and ears to greater understanding of our shared global world.

Global Perspectives x 4

Within the last two weeks, I have had the pleasure of interacting with multiple groupings of individuals who have or will participate in the Preparing the Future Professoriate: Global Perspectives program.  The initial meeting of the 2012 Global Perspectives group was held and we began the process of preparing for our May visit.  The PFP Chile ’12 group met to debrief and reflect upon our January visit to Chile.  The weekly Global Perspectives lunch gathering was held and I was able to attend.  And most recently, I shared the draft itinerary with my colleagues who will participate in the first ever Global Perspectives program for graduate deans this July.  The pervasive sentiment across these groups is genuine excitement about learning more about the global academic world and reflecting about the significant impact upon one’s professional and personal lives.  The global perspectives program is one of the many ways through which we can and will transform graduate education.