New Institute Will Align and Connect KU’s Global Efforts

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, 2:16 p.m.
KU Lawrence staff, faculty and affiliates All Lawrence and Edwards students

KU Faculty, Staff and Students,

We are announcing a new international institute at the University of Kansas to build on our existing strengths and create additional opportunities for global collaboration to support our mission of educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The announcement below will be distributed to regional media outlets tomorrow.

A long-time leader in international scholarship and global engagement, the University of Kansas is launching a new institute to enhance its overall efforts by strengthening the connections among its established international centers and aligning those strengths with KU’s rich institutional internationalization capacities.

The KU Institute for International and Global Engagement will build on existing strengths while coordinating the academic, research and service efforts of faculty and staff working in international and global areas. The institute will focus on creating collaboration and partnerships on campus, across the state and around the globe to support KU’s mission of educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world.

KU is highly regarded among U.S. higher education institutions for its international programs, including ranking seventh in the United States for the most Title VI-granted National Resource Centers (i.e., university-based centers that receive U.S. Department of Education funding to teach foreign language skills). KU’s Area Studies Centers design, develop and deliver interdisciplinary curricula that focus on particular regions of the world. The five centers are: Center for East Asian Studies, Center for Global & International Studies, Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies and Kansas African Studies Center.

In addition to the Area Studies Centers, study abroad is an important cultural and educational experience for thousands of KU students. Among the 137 R1 research institutions in the United States, KU ranks 24th for the number of students participating in education abroad as a part of their degree programs.

Creation of the KU-IIGE was partly informed by KU’s self-study for the American Council on Education’s Internationalization Lab, which identified the need for an inclusive institutional structure that spans academic schools and units and is designed to support and connect all campus efforts toward strategic international community engagement. While KU’s five Area Studies Centers and the Office of Study Abroad have built a foundation for the university’s international expertise, the university has lacked the organizational structure at the institutional level to align and connect those capacities. The Institute will help KU do that in four key areas: curriculum, research, international operations and international engagement.

KU Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer said, “The Center for International and Global Engagement will allow us to better align the significant resources we have at KU Lawrence-Edwards as we engage with our partners across the state, region, nation and world to bridge language, cultural and geographic divides as we address global challenges.”

The focus of the new Institute will be to foster understanding of how societal dynamics and transformational technologies influence and impact our international and global connections and relationships, to explore the availability and nature of potential solutions, and to operationalize solutions through collaborative human action.

International engagement and outreach efforts benefit the KU community by increasing campus diversity, providing enriched academic experiences and opening opportunities for collaborative research. In addition to the benefits to the university community itself, KU’s leadership in internationalization also pays dividends for Kansas and the nation. KU’s curriculum and programs help to increase awareness and knowledge of international issues. Through its expertise and global network, KU can strategically connect local and regional organizations with alumni and other partners around the world to support economic development and foreign investment in Kansas.

The Office of the Provost is making an institutional investment in the KU-IIGE, in addition to the Title VI funding and existing funding from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences that supports KU’s Area Studies Centers. The new institutional funding will support a half-time faculty executive director for the KU-IIGE, half-time faculty directors for the Area Studies Centers, and two full-time KU-IIGE staff positions focused on research and community engagement.

The KU-IIGE’s mission aligns with institutional priorities and objectives within KU’s Jayhawks Rising Strategic Plan, specifically the objective to “Strengthen Service to Local and Global Communities” under the “Healthy and Vibrant Communities” priority and the objective to “Expand the Impact of KU Research in Kansas and Beyond” under the “Research and Discovery” priority.

“With the creation of the KU-IIGE, we are advancing our strategic priorities and solidifying KU’s reputation as a leader in international and global engagement. We anticipate that the Institute will serve the state and nation by facilitating global partnerships among higher education institutions, social service and public service organizations, as well as KU and international alumni and partners in industry,” Bichelmeyer said.

KU’s Jayhawks Rising Strategic Plan is organized around three institutional priorities: student success, health and vibrant communities, and research and discovery.

Kansas Impact
KU-IIGE will add global insight and understanding that advantage Kansas students, agencies and companies as they work and interact around the globe.

Why it Matters
International partnerships in higher education, the non-profit sector, and industry provide innovative solutions that are key to growth and jobs in regional and national economies.