COURTESY SARAH RUTHERFORD Vice President for Global Engagement Thomas Banchoff will spearhead the two-year Global Futures initiative, announced Jan. 15.
Vice President for Global Engagement Thomas Banchoff will spearhead the two-year Global Futures initiative, announced Jan. 15.

University President John J. DeGioia announced the creation of Global Futures, a two-year-long initiative formed from a university-wide collaboration that will engage the community in four global themes: development, governance, security and environment, on Jan. 15.

The initiative, led by Vice President for Global Engagement Thomas Banchoff, was developed over a six-month period by multiple university departments, including the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost and a variety of campus graduate and undergraduate programs.

“In the time since I took the role [of VP for Global Engagement], I’ve been working with colleagues to explore how we can build on Georgetown’s strengths around global questions and take advantage of our D.C. location to build a platform to explore those issues,” Banchoff said. “That’s what led to the initiative.”

According to Global Engagement Communications Manager Sarah Rutherford, the initiative is part of the university’s efforts to engage in global issues.

“Georgetown is developing the model of an engaged global university,” Rutherford said. “This initiative is one of our first opportunities to advance as an engaged global university in terms of our teaching, research and outreach activities.”

Global Futures activities will revolve around one major theme each semester, beginning with development in spring 2015. The four semesters will be unified by four smaller, cross-cutting themes: religion and ethics, migration and cities, gender and diversity, and health and family.

“The idea was to choose four themes that are critical in today’s world. In other words, they’re topics that are on everyone’s mind and will shape the global future,” Banchoff said. “We wanted to choose topics that would be of interest to faculty and students, but we also wanted to have a chance to explore the intersections between those themes over two years, which is the initiative extends more than one semester.”

To engage the Georgetown community in each theme, the initiative will bring a variety of world leaders to speak. For spring 2015, the university has partnered with the World Bank Group, and will receive a total of four lectures from President Jim Yong Kim and Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Kaushik Basu, who will deliver two lectures each. Rutherford and Banchoff could not provide information on future speakers because the details have not yet been finalized.

“Our idea is to invite world leaders to campus and to encourage them to set out a vision based on their expertise for dealing with global issues and global challenges and to address the policy implications but also some of the ethical implications of the choices that we face,” Banchoff said.

Rutherford said Georgetown’s reputation made the partnerships between large organizations such as the World Bank possible.

“We’re able to work with World Bank Group in part because of our D.C. location, which makes it easy for those leaders to come to Georgetown and give lectures, and because of Georgetown’s reputation of academic excellence and Jesuit identity, which gives us expertise and interest in addressing pressing issues,” Rutherford said. “It’s a draw for world leaders to come to Georgetown.”

In addition to speaking events, the initiative will also include an academic aspect that gives students and faculty research grants and incorporates the four themes into both the undergraduate and graduate curricula.

The initiative has set aside $25,000 for spring 2015 research grants, for which students and faculty can apply online by Feb. 3 . Each applicant may receive up to $7,500 for topics that address one of the four Global Futures themes or cross-cutting themes. This money comes from the Office of the Vice President for Global Engagement’s existing budget.

The initiative also includes a Global Futures Curriculum Studio formed in collaboration with the Designing Future(s) of the University Initiative founded in November 2013. The studio will encourage faculty members to incorporate global perspectives and the four themes into their courses through workshops and seminars.

“We want to bring faculty and students together to think about how to further integrate these topics into the curriculum,” Banchoff said. “Obviously, they’re already there, but we want give faculty the tools that we can to do that more effectively going forward.”

The last component of the initiative is a Global Futures blog that will allow the university community and the outside world to discuss current events, ideas and themes. The blog, which launched Jan. 1, features posts from Georgetown faculty members and administrators with backgrounds in each theme.

According to Banchoff, the program as a whole will provide a platform for discussion, but will also elevate the university’s status in regards to global studies.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us to highlight our strengths for an external audience like the academic excellence we have across disciplines in dealing with global questions,” Banchoff said. “But also I think it’s an opportunity to foster more collaboration within the university around these issues, across campuses, across schools, but also between faculty and students going forward.”

In a statement sent to the university Jan. 15, DeGioia expressed his excitement for the inauguration of the initiative.

“The challenges we face today as a global community are more complex than ever, transcending national and cultural boundaries,” DeGioia wrote. “… Through the Global Futures framework, we will bring the resources of our university’s distinctive tradition — our academic excellence, our history of broad global engagement — to bear in advancing thoughtful solutions that lead to a better future for all people.”

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