William & Mary

From the Director

Stephen E. Hanson, Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of the Reves Center for International Studies

In these times of heightened concern about the potential downsides of globalization, those of us in Stephen E. Hansonthe field of international education must now make a more forceful and persuasive case for the importance of promoting global interconnections and perspectives. Indeed, much of the phraseology that used to quickly persuade opinion leaders of the value of global teaching, learning, research, and community engagement now sounds a bit hackneyed and shopworn. As anti- globalist parties and movements are propelled to power in countries on every continent, it is no longer enough simply to repeat as a mantra that “our world is interconnected as never before,” or that “we must prepare students to compete in an ever-more competitive global marketplace.” Surely we can all now recognize that there was no “end of ideological history” after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, as Francis Fukuyama once argued; instead, competing conceptions of history as a source of grievance and conflict have returned with a vengeance. The world is no longer, if it ever was, “flat” (even if Thomas Freidman was clearly correct to predict that the planet would become increasingly “hot” and “crowded”).  Why, then, should a leading university like William & Mary continue to prioritize internationalization as a central part of our strategic plan?  

The articles in this issue of World Minded suggest a compelling answer to this question: regardless of how the future global order develops, the work we do to promote international education at William & Mary clearly helps to make the world a better place. Our work to open doors of opportunity for W&M students to immerse themselves in diverse social settings, from Rio de Janeiro to Sumatra and beyond, equips them with cultural empathy and personal adaptability — qualities of enormous importance for their future career success. Our tireless efforts to  bring brilliant students, scholars, and  staff members from around the world  to W&M contributes to making our  university an inclusive and welcoming  community, where genuine teamwork can generate creative solutions  to pressing global problems. Our cutting- edge research on subjects ranging from global climate change to the effects of Chinese foreign aid—much of which directly incorporates W&M undergraduate and graduate students — illuminates crucial issues affecting societies around the world.  

At the Reves Center itself — as the article in this issue profiling four of our own wonderful staff members makes abundantly clear — we have gathered together a staff team united by an abiding passion to promote international understanding as a true force for global good. We are proud to advance this mission at William & Mary, a university that has produced outstanding global leaders for well over three centuries. And we are particularly excited to support these efforts under the dynamic leadership of William & Mary’s new President Katherine Rowe, who has embraced the international dimensions of our university with impressive energy and genuine enthusiasm.