Global university network launched

Wednesday 10 May 2023

Emory University (USA), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), the University of Bonn (Germany), the University of St Andrews (UK) and Waseda University (Japan) have signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding, laying the foundation for collaboration within their Global Network. The aim of the newly formed network is to foster multilateral collaboration among the partners in three core areas: education, research, leadership and innovation.

The five internationally renowned universities are coming together in a newly formed Global Network aiming at facilitating academic collaboration, clustering expert knowledge and learning from each other through best practices. The partners share a common approach to internationalization and will cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally on a range of projects designed to promote excellence in research and education and extend the partners’ global impact. “This is a small, but the most effective network for Waseda University based on long-term collaboration and trust with other partners,” says Prof. Dr. Masahiko Gemma, Vice President for International Affairs at Waseda University. The network seeks to enhance and add value to each member’s institutional strategy for global engagement, building on strong preexisting bilateral ties between many of the founding members.

Enhancing members’ global reach and connectivity is another key goal set by the partners. Academic connections between network members, which will include student and staff mobility, including through digital collaboration, to enhance a deeper understanding about higher education contexts around the world and share best practices. “Mobility of staff and students between institutions is important for institutional internationalization, and enables opportunities for building academic and cultural bridges, improving language and intercultural communication skills and mutual understanding,” says Prof. Dr. Oron Shagrir, Vice President for International Affairs at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Three multilateral pilot projects have already been developed, with dedicated working groups formed among the project staff at each partner institution.

The University of St Andrews is joined by partners in developing a postgraduate network, including an online symposium on “Modes of International PhD Education” that took place in September 2022. “Developing connections across institutions through which we can understand the various ways we each conduct operations for postgraduate students provides a meaningful opportunity to learn from different higher education settings and contexts, and connecting students will foster new links and deepen our partnerships in research,” says Prof. Dr. Brad MacKay, Deputy Principal and Vice-Principal (International Strategy and External Relations) at the University of St Andrews.

The University of Bonn is leading another multilateral project focusing on social responsibility. After sharing respective approaches on sustainability among partners, best practices in student engagement for sustainability has been selected as a topic for an online student workshop to be held this year. “Sharing best practices to learn from each other is a major advantage of this multilateral network. We are glad to have the opportunity to connect our sustainability initiatives with those of our network partners,” says Prof. Dr. Birgit Ulrike Münch, Vice Rector for International Affairs at the University of Bonn. “I can hardly think of an area with more global relevance, which is why approaching sustainability in this global environment is key for us.”

The third project aims at bringing an established funding program, the Collaborative Research Grant, to a multilateral level by providing funding to groups of researchers from three or more Global Network partner institutions to work on joint projects.

“Scholars and researchers from several of the member institutions have already received support for their collaborative work through existing bilateral relationships,“ says Prof. Dr. Philip Wainwright, Vice Provost for Global Strategy and Initiatives at Emory University.“ The newly formed network presents an exciting opportunity to engage in multilateral cooperation, broadening their collaborative efforts even further.”

The idea for the global network grew during the Covid-19 pandemic, which itself demonstrated the need for scientific international collaboration. While the network has been very active online, the partners are now planning a first face-to-face network meeting in spring 2024 to further deepen the network and potentially extend it to additional universities.

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