Written by Anita Ramasastry, Henry M. Jackson Endowed Professor of Law, Director of the Sustainable International Development Graduate Program, and Faculty Director, International, Comparative and Transnational Programs
In autumn of 2020, I was appointed as chair of the Global Engagement Strategy Task Force and charged with reimagining the role that the Office of Global Affairs (OGA) plays in informing and shaping the future of global engagement at the University of Washington.
Over the last year, I had the pleasure of not only diving deeply into discussion with seven peers from diverse units, but meeting with and learning from over 100 stakeholders from across the university.
This work took place at a time of inflection both for the UW broadly and for OGA. The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly transformed UW’s model for teaching and learning, it also put global travel including study abroad on hold. The pandemic also underscored the importance of UW providing administrative and social support structures for international students and researchers during a major global crisis. The Black Lives Matter movement and a renewed call to action for greater focus on anti-racist approaches to education prompted us to grapple with what it means for us to be globally engaged in a way that confronts issues of historica and contemporary racism and colonialism and is consistent with the UW’s overall approach to diversity, equity and inclusion. These challenges and opportunities shaped our process and our recommendations.
Five key recommendations emerged for the future work of OGA:
- Shift OGA’s focus from being a steward of policies and procedures to being a builder of global learning and research communities
- Serve as a portal and ambassador for stewarding and advancing institution-wide relationships with key global actors — from international organizations, such as the UN and the World Bank, to key foundations and think tanks
- Catalyze global teaching and education beyond study abroad, ensuring a global education for all through the use of technology
- Identify and work to eliminate the structural barriers that prevent many BIPOC faculty, staff, and students from leveraging OGA’s services and programs
- Continue to provide broad administrative support (travel security, MOUs, etc.) for the myriad global partnerships, but also invest more substantially in fewer, deeper, and bi-directional partnerships
Collectively, we are eager to see OGA build a richer ecosystem for global engagement at the UW. UW has a strong commitment to global citizenship. We now have the chance to expand and reframe our approach.
OGA would like to give a special thank you and acknowledgement of the tremendous service of the task force members: Anita Ramasastry (Chair), School of Law; Gayle Christensen, Office of Global Affairs; Leela Fernandes, Jackson School of International Studies; Debra Glassman, Foster School of Business; Stephanie Harrington, College of the Environment; Joe Lott, College of Education; Rebecca Neumann, College of Engineering; Judd Walson, Schools of Public Health & Medicine