President Lee Pelton submitted the following letter to the editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education affirming the need for global perspectives in higher education.
Building International Bridges, Not Walls
To the Editor:
Your story, China Is Warning Its Students About Going to College in America. Here’s Why That Matters. (The Chronicle, June 3), illustrates a complicated position for higher education institutions brought on by an unsettled geopolitical climate, where talk of trade wars surface on a daily basis. Should the number of international students, including those from China, studying in the U.S. decline, then our colleges and universities will suffer. This is not simply a matter of maintaining high enrollment numbers. Rather, our institutions need a free and global exchange of viewpoints and knowledge in order to keep our promise of educating the next generation of global leaders and thinkers.
While governments, including ours, play politics and threaten new tariffs, U.S. institutions of higher education should continue to develop programs for students from around the world to come together to share ideas – building a global, inclusive community rather than a divisive one supported by nationalism.
Our students deserve the best education we can provide and that comes only through opportunities to hear, discuss and debate a wide range of ideas.
Whether you’re at a large research institution or a small liberal arts college, academics must not suspend our efforts to engage intellectually through international collaboration.
At Emerson College, students and all members of our community have benefited from purposeful initiatives that engage students from across the globe and enhance understanding and knowledge not only in our classrooms, but also in our filmmaking choices, on our stages and in our newsrooms. And beyond our U.S. campus, our new Global Portals program invites students from around the world to study at partner institutions as well as ours to earn global degrees that highlight international perspectives from multiple locations.
U.S. institutions need to be innovative in order to overcome the barriers created by the current political agenda in Washington. Through experiences, cultural awareness and diversity of thought stimulated by international exposure and exchange, our young people make important discoveries about themselves and others.
We owe it to our students, and our future, to provide these rich opportunities for them, perhaps now more than ever before.