Planning in Princeton

Last week, I had another great conversation — this time in Princeton — where 70 alumni, parents, and friends joined me for a discussion about the future of the College. In the intimate setting of the Nassau Inn, we touched on many topics including one that has surfaced on numerous occasions during our strategic planning launch this fall — globalization or globalism. First, let me say that these terms are sufficiently vague that individuals may define them quite differently. They are being used more as “terms of art” than precise descriptions. In the strategic planning conversations, the phenomenon that we are considering is the rapid elimination of both physical and cultural boundaries, inspired by technological innovation and the great benefits, therefore, of language immersion and competency, and the capacity to think critically about how others see our own government, culture, and perspectives. Against this backdrop, learning to live, lead, and communicate in the world will mean something very different for our current and future students than it has meant for many of us.

In Princeton, one of our alumni suggested that the College not lose sight of the opportunities our students have to immerse themselves in cultures different from their own within the United States. In the most recent Board of Managers discussion about globalization, it was also suggested that we need to balance the benefits of students studying abroad against those gained by students serving the local community and to consider carefully how much emphasis we wish to place in each of these areas. Each type of experience offers its own set of benefits, and we will need to assess these carefully, particularly as they relate to our mission. We also concluded that it’s important that we focus on building competencies that are critical to our students both globally and domestically.

Other questions that relate to globalization are also being discussed by the working groups, and the broader community, such as whether and how much we should increase international enrollment; whether we should explore more formal exchange relationships with colleges and universities abroad; and how we can develop ways to connect our increasingly global alumni network more effectively.

I welcome your continued input on these questions as we consider how to build upon our tradition of excellence and become a leader in liberal arts education throughout the world.