Global Temple 4.0: An Opportunity for Faculty
— Aaron Sullivan, Assistant Editor
Celebration and Inspiration were the themes of the fourth annual Global Temple Conference hosted in the Howard Gittis Student Center on November 17th. Faculty, students, administrators and others from among Temple’s global campuses and across a wide range of disciplines gathered together to celebrate their ongoing efforts to give the university a global reach and perspective. At the same time, they hoped to inspire one another and those who attended the conference to ask, in the words of Conference Planning Committee Chairman David Baron, “How can I contribute to this internationalization of Temple?”
Hai-Lung Dai, Senior Vice Provost for Internation Affairs, at the Conference Welcome Session
Hai-Lung Dai, Dean of CST and now also Senior Vice Provost for International Affairs, noted in his introductory address that the United States is currently experiencing a peak in its high-school population. Future years will see steady decline in high-school students, which, if college enrolling percentages remain the same, will inevitably be followed by decreasing numbers of American college students. If universities are to remain full, they will need to make up the difference with international students. Temple is on its way; according to Vice Provost Dai, Temple boasts 1,815 international students, which amounts to approximately 5% of its total student population. Furthermore, approximately 1000 Temple students are studying abroad this year. Dai hopes to see both these figures double over the next decade. The creation of Dai’s new post, like the prominence of “global Temple” in the Provost’s strategic plan, is certainly a sign of the importance of the international in the vision of the Hart administration.
Celebration of Temple’s global endeavors was easy to find, both in the panels and on many of the poster presentations available in the reception room. Those fortunate enough to attend the session on ‘Temple in Brazil 2009’ were treated to a presentation by a group Temple students who spent six weeks in the city of Salvador, Bahia on Brazil’s northeastern coast studying Afro-Brazilian culture and history. The panel concluded with a live display of Afro-Brazilian dance and music, incorporating all the presenters and a few members of the audience as well.
Meanwhile, in the large reception room, conference visitors were able to learn more about
a wide variety of international connections and projects made possible by Temple. Jim
Diane Nelson Brysen and her presentation on Bi-National Collaboration on Disability
Portwood, of the Fox School, displayed a collection of ‘Personal Coats of Arms’ crafted byhis students from the United States, Europe and Asia. Portwood showed spectators how key cultural themes were woven through each regional group and invited them tospeculate on how culture influences our perceptions of ourselves and others. Elsewhere, Dianne Nelson Bryen presented a poster on ‘Bi-National Collaboration on Disability’ and her experience doing bi-national work with Israel, India, Guam, Australia, South Africa, and the Virgin Islands. Capturing both themes of celebration and inspiration, Bryen shared the lessons she’s learned and the successes she’s had but was also willing to highlight opportunities for Temple faculties and students to get involved.
A panel anchored by two TU-Japan faculty members showcased the comparative research they have been able to do by teaching there. Sociologist Kyle Cleveland delved into some of the complexities of Japanese hip-hop cultural forms as seen in music and dance, clothing, ads, and shops. Economics professor Michael A. Leeds concisely described how the organization of baseball teams as representatives of larger corporate entities – and run by their bureaucrats – reflects profound differences in Japanese and American economies as well as cultures, and makes the game itself very different. This panel in particular made it clear that neither globalization nor American “inspiration” necessarily mean sameness.
Inspiration was also on display in the various panels held throughout the day, particularly in the presentation by the Macro Polo Collaborative. The Collaborative is a cross-disciplinary group of six faculty members developing resources to support instruction in all aspects of globalization. They are now in the process of gathering together teaching and research materials related to globalization and planning to release a website dedicated to making those materials available to faculty and instructors interested in adding global content to their work.
All of this, of course, only begins to scratch the service of what was available at the conference. All told, the program included some twenty-one separate panels and more than a dozen poster presentations dedicated to celebrating Temple’s global reach and inspiring others to help bring the world to Temple’s campuses. The fifth annual conference will take place next year, offering another venue for the faculty to explore what “internationalization” can mean for Temple.
The reception area also hosted a collection of
beautiful photographs taken by Temple
students in other countries.