Category: Agreements and Exchanges

Cultures Ancient and Modern, Connections Old and New

SE Asia Debriefing

               Four countries, 13 days, 9 campuses, multiple meetings with government officials, hundreds of IU alumni.   “It was work,” David Zaret said at a briefing on the trip in the Grand Foyer of the IU Auditorium.  Zaret, vice president for international affairs, and President Michael McRobbie led an IU delegation to Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia in May.

             “We went to Southeast Asia for the same reason we have visited other regions of the world—to advance strategic priorities of the IU international plan,” Zaret explained.  “We would like to have more agreements with top quality universities across the world, agreements that provide opportunities for faculty and students to go back and forth.  We want to expand opportunities for undergraduates to engage in study abroad experiences. Finally, we were looking for ways to help our Indiana alumni reconnect to the university.”

             When they returned, they had recognized an “odd discrepancy,” Zaret said.  “Among American universities, we have some of the oldest ties to universities in Southeast Asia.  We have 10,000 IU alums in the four countries we visited, possibly more than any other US institution. Yet, though we have many active programs in area studies, Southeast Asia is perhaps the one region of the world where we do very little.  The president and I agree that it really ought to be an institutional priority to develop a thriving program in Southeast Asian Studies.” 

The campuses visited:
National Institute for Development Assistance, Bangkok
Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
National University Singapore
Yale-National University of Singapore
Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta
Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur
Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam

All the alumni receptions attracted a rambunctious crowd. I was overwhelmed by number and enthusiasm and affection they feel for Indiana University.--David Zaret

Reconciliation in West Africa

Nobel Laureate Lehmah Gbowee and Marion Broome, dean of nursing. The School of Nursing is working with the University or Liberia to rebuild the university’s nursing and public health programs, whose facilities and programs were devastated by decades of civil war.

“In most of our communities today, people are still looking over the heads of women and looking beyond for experts to come and reconcile their communities,” Lehmah Gbowee said recently to a packed room at the IUPUI McKinney School of Law.  “Women have the capacity.  They understand the context and issues.  They know the stakeholders, and they know in part some of the solutions to their problems.”   

Gbowee, joint recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in ending civil war in Liberia, related some of the ways women worked for peace in West Africa–from establishing benchmarks to assure that the process did not stall, to making sure that leaders knew when promises were not being kept.  When peacekeepers come from the outside, the peace process “is one size fits all,” Gbowee explained.  They have their formulas and their books, and although relying on local knowledge is highly publicized, it is rarely done.  “One of the ways to hide things from the African people is to bury them in books,” Gbowee said.  And some stories of how peace is accomplished don’t get told, especially the stories of the successes of the women who are part of the affected communities.

Besides the practical and pragmatic advice that only someone on the front lines of the process can give—like making sure that soldiers who give up their guns receive promised payments—women are in tune with a vital component of the reconciliation process, exemplified in the story of the woman who while feeding a wounded soldier, heard the soldier’s admission that he had killed her daughter.  “Was I supposed to stop feeding him?” the woman asked.  Peace can only come, Gbowee suggests, when the answer to that question is “No.”

Gbowee’s presentation can be viewed in its entirety here.  The event had sixteen sponsors representing every part and every constituency of the IUPUI campus.

Economic Interconnection


SKKU-IU Undergraduate Economic Research Conference--Impact of Exchange Rates on Exports


Some experts say that Korean students are among the most academically competitive in the world.   Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) is Korea’s oldest university with roots in Seoul going back to 1398.  IU students had a chance to share the scholarship of their Korean colleagues recently when 24 SKKU undergraduate students came to Bloomington to participate in a conference on economic research. 

The presentations by students from the SKKU Department of Global Economics (where courses are taught in English) were highly technical—including titles like “Loss Aversion and Fiscal Policy,” and “Analysis about the Effect of Exchange Rate Volatility on Exports” –and highly professional, with reviews of research and methodology.   Their conclusions suggested how interconnected the world economy is:  Fluctuations in exchange rates (the Korean won is the most volatile currency in the world) produce fluctuations in production so that potential loss from one is cancelled by gain in the other.  The U.S. response to its economic crisis of 2008 has indirectly benefitted Korea by making the results of Korean research and development of increased interest in the U.S. IU graduate students and faculty members prepared formal responses to the presentations, and a sizeable audience of advanced IU undergraduates questioned speakers and respondents. 

Dr. Young Se Kim, SKKU chair of the Department of Global Economics, explained that the students had been working in groups for two months to research and to prepare their presentations.  When they return, they will turn the presentations into formal papers. 

The day was packed with nine research sessions and a luncheon presentation by Gerhard Glomm, professor of economics.  Korean students joined American students at a dinner at the Global Living-Learning Center.   “The dinner was a real success,” Kirstine Lindemann, conference organizer, said.  “I have multiple requests for email addresses; students want to keep in touch.”

The College of Arts and Sciences hosted the conference and arranged for the Korean students to spend a day in Chicago where they toured the Federal Reserve and the Mercantile Exchange.

IU President Michael McRobbie visited the SKKU campus in 2008 to sign a university-wide presidential agreement of cooperation.  Currently, SKKU has formal agreements with the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Informatics and Computing, the Kelley School of Business, and the Maurer School of Law. 

This conference, one product of this institutional cooperation, provided the opportunity for undergraduates at both institutions to engage in a kind of discourse usually available only to professionals in the field.   Lindemann travelled to Seoul last fall to interview SKKU students  interested in coming to Bloomington.    Another result of the agreement will come in March, when seven IU graduate students will travel to the SKKU campus in Seoul for a conference on graduate and professional education.

Indiana Goes to China

George Vlahakis at the news desk of Hangzhou Television

George Vlahakis at the news desk of Hangzhou Television

A group of 18 professors and staff from Indiana University, state business executives and journalists is visiting China this week.  The centerpiece of the visit is a two-day conference at Zhejiang University.  The itinerary also includes extensive visits with business and government officials in an effort to continue the cementing of ties between Indiana and this important academic and entrepreneurial region of Southeast China.  George Vlahakis, IU media expert on international issues, is reporting daily on their activities.  You can his daily reports on the conference and the mutual engagement of educators and business people from two hemispheres here.

The current visit follows up on a visit of Zhejiang educators and business people to Indianapolis and Bloomington in 2009.

Language Learning across the Pacific

IU Vice President Patrick O'Meara (center) joins students for a video link with Australia to meet the Mongolian ambassador.

            Bloomington students learning Mongolian got to use those language skills to introduce themselves to the Mongolian prime minister and perform Mongolian songs for him this week.  They were about 9,400 miles apart at the time.

            The Pan Asia Institute is a joint venture of Indiana University and the Australian National University in Canberra. Its mission is to find ways to make each institution’s expertise in Asia studies available to the other.  Last year, an ANU instructor, using videoconferencing technologies, taught a class in Indonesian for IU students.  This year, that same video link has allowed Tserenchunt Legden, an IU instructor in Mongolian, to teach ANU students. 

            While visiting the ANU campus, Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold stopped by the Mongolian class and visited with students on both sides of the Pacific.  The event was reported by all three Mongolian TV stations.  Read more.


A New Hungarian Visiting Professorship for Bloomington


Huba Bruckner, executive director of the Fulbright Commission Hungary

Huba Bruckner, executive director of the Fulbright Commission Hungary

In 1979, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences endowed a Hungarian Chair at IU Bloomington. For 35 years, that endowment has supported a professorship of Hungarian Studies.  More than a dozen Hungarian scholars have taught and conducted research in Bloomington, enhancing a Hungarian program at IUB that began with the teaching of the Hungarian language during World War II.    

 Today, Huba Bruckner, executive director of the Fulbright Commission Hungary and pioneer in the development of computer-aided learning in Hungary, was on campus to complete a new agreement that will establish the Hungarian Visiting Professorship at IU Bloomington.  This new position is meant to be broader in scope, reaching more deeply into the social sciences, explains Christopher Atwood, chair of Central Eurasian Studies.  While the Academy professorship has successfully focused on Hungarian culture, the Fulbright position is designed to attract similar expertise, but also Hungarian expertise in economics and other social sciences. 

Dr. Huba Bruckner (center) with Karen Hanson, Bloomington provost and IU executive vice president (left) and Patrick O'Meara, vice president for international affairs (right) at the signing of the agreement for the Hungarian Visiting Professorship.

Dr. Huba Bruckner (center) with Karen Hanson, Bloomington provost and IU executive vice president (left) and Patrick O'Meara, vice president for international affairs (right) at the signing of the agreement for the Hungarian Visiting Professorship.