21st Century Higher Education: A Global View

21st Century Higher Education: A Global View

Our two opinion pieces, “BI Forum” and the “Last Word,” written by Evelyn Hamilton and Dr. Kimberly Battle-Walters respectively, touch on a similar theme — the urgent need to understand cultures other than our own. Indeed, this need has never been greater.

The current environment in which we live — charged by terrorism and high-tech saber rattling ever since Sept. 11, 2001 — underscores the need for increased “awareness, dialogue and acceptance,” as Battle-Walters writes. Those who are fortunate to travel and study abroad commonly come out of those experiences enlightened and armed with a new perspective. Stereotypes and pre-conceived notions are challenged and one can begin to chip away at ignorance and intolerance, one’s own as well as others’.

The United States is fortunate to have the best higher education system in the world. Students from every corner of the globe come to be educated in this country. Part of the appeal for foreign students is the diversity of the U.S. educational curricula as well as the diversity of the student population.

It is ironic, then, that as international students clamor to attend U.S. colleges and universities, access to these institutions is being challenged. The unfortunate result may be less educational opportunities for some students. Many schools over the years have tried to see to it that those less fortunate, whether because of race, socio-economic class or even geographic isolation, have a shot at receiving a first-class education. But running scared from affirmative action opponents, these same schools are one by one dismantling programs for underrepresented groups.

What would our colleges and universities look like if everyone were of the same race, class, religion and academic interests? What would our institutions look like if admissions officers were not able to look beyond grades and test scores to put together the strongest and most interesting class with the greatest potential?

I can honestly say this is our best international education edition to date. We feature a study abroad program that immerses students in French culture, while highlighting and exploring the historical and intellectual connections between Black people and Paris; a New York University-based program, that thanks to Oprah Winfrey, provides African scholars the opportunity to pursue graduate degrees, giving them the skills and tools to return to and improve their native countries; and lastly we look at why Indian students are drawn to U.S. colleges and universities, surpassing China last year as the lead sender of foreign students.

In “Faculty Club,” Kendra Hamilton profiles Fordham University law professor Catherine Powell who is finding her time in Israel to be very productive. Always interested in human rights issues, Powell, with the help of a fellowship, is looking at the role human rights organizations are playing in the debate about the U.S. war on terrorism. For Powell, who contemplated an international career, being able to pursue her scholarly interests abroad, if only for a finite period of time, has been an invaluable opportunity.

The U.S. higher education system is not without its flaws, but reading our feature stories will give you a new appreciation for what our colleges and universities have to offer our students, both undergraduates and graduates. In addition, we hope these stories will let you look at our educational institutions through the eyes of those who don’t take such opportunities for granted.

 

 


Hilary Hurd Anyaso
Edito



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