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What It Means to Be ‘Global’ in Seattle

Photo of panelists speaking at the Global Washington conference. Left to right: John Kelly, Starbucks Senior Vice President of Global Public Affairs and Social Impact; UW President Ana Mari Cauce; Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. and Akhtar Badshah, president of the board for Global Washington.
Left to right: John Kelly, Starbucks Senior Vice President of Global Public Affairs and Social Impact; UW President Ana Mari Cauce; Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. and Akhtar Badshah, president of the board for Global Washington. Photo: © Global Washington

By Jeffrey Riedinger and Akhtar Badshah

After the Global Washington conference last month, the two of us have been going back and forth about something that came up during the opening keynote discussion.

The discussion, moderated by Akhtar, included UW President Ana Mari Cauce; John Kelly, Starbucks Senior Vice President of Global Public Affairs and Social Impact; and Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision U.S.

Several of the speakers argued that we need to immediately address several pressing problems in Seattle, including homelessness. Some in the audience and media took that to imply an “America First” attitude. What they seem to have missed, as we later learned in conversations with other attendees, was the point several speakers made that we must tackle these issues BOTH globally AND locally. This is not an “either or” scenario.

Homelessness, poverty, disease, and hunger know no geographic boundaries, as the participants pointed out; they are global problems. They exist and must be addressed in Seattle and Spokane, as much as in Sao Paulo and Soweto. As Ana Mari said, there exists a false dichotomy in framing Washington state’s issues versus global issues: “If you want to do the right thing for Washington, you’ve got to think globally.”

Indeed, we are all engaged globally precisely because we seek to address the most pressing problems, whether they arise in Washington State, across our nation, or around the world. To this point, Ana Mari shared a quote she often refers to from Eric Liu, co-author of the book, Gardens of Democracy: “We are all better off when we are ALL better off.”

Our worlds are increasingly intertwined at the university and we work hard to provide both local and global context to our teaching. Akhtar teaches a class on Global Business where students discuss the impact of globalization on businesses and how communities in the U.S. and Seattle are affected. By exploring underlying patterns of interconnectedness, we discover more effective solutions because in today’s world we cannot afford to be singularly local or mindlessly global. We HAVE to be appropriately local and effectively global.

Jeffrey Riedinger is the vice provost for global affairs at the University of Washington. Dr. Riedinger has leadership and administrative responsibility for the University’s diverse global programming including support for international research, study abroad, student and faculty exchanges, and overseas centers.

Akhtar Badshah is the president & chair of the board for Global Washington. Dr. Badshah currently teaches at the University of Washington at the School of Business, Bothell campus, and at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. He is the founder and curator of Accelerating Social Transformation, a mid-career professional development certificate course on social impact.

UW a leader in global student engagement

Seattle, Washington

The 2017 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange ranks the UW in the top 20 institutions for both study abroad and hosting international students. The report was released today by the Institute for International Education. Preparing UW students for successful leadership in today’s global society and interconnected world is essential to the UW’s public service mission. All UW students engage in high impact global learning opportunities, whether they are on our campuses or around the world.

Ranked 16th in the nation among institutions awarding credit for study abroad, the UW offers leading-edge international learning opportunities that match the goals and interests of our diverse student community. Many students study abroad on faculty-led programs, where the expertise of UW professors and a supportive community of fellow students further enhances the experience. The UW seeks to further enhance access to global learning for all students through continuous improvement of its high-quality program offerings, and by providing specialized advising and scholarships to students from communities underrepresented in study abroad.

The UW is also proud of the global diversity on its campuses, and is ranked 14th in the nation among institutions hosting international students. The UW campus community is enriched by the global and cultural diversity of its students, faculty, and staff. Hosting international students from around the world on our campuses offers students from overseas an outstanding education and enhances the educational experience for all.  

Through combined strategies of offering robust global experiences on campus and reducing barriers to participating in international learning, the UW prepares graduates for leadership in today’s globally connected world. 


CONTACT: Sara Stubbs, Office of Global Affairs; 206-616-8427,

UW León Center honored for community contributions

León, Spain

Before an audience of 700, the UW León Center was honored for its years of close collaboration with local and provincial partners. The award was presented by Juan Martínez Majo, president of the local Provincial Council, and, a digital news outlet. UW Professor Emeritus of Communication Randal Beam accepted the award and expressed appreciation for the UW’s collaborations with León and provincial partners.

Housed in León’s Palacio del Conde Luna, a 16th century Renaissance tower, the UW León Center fosters interdisciplinary, faculty-led study abroad programs for UW students. The space is also used for academic research, conferences, exhibits and cultural events. The center aims to cultivate students who are tolerant and respectful of cultural diversity, and who see themselves as responsible members of a global community.


CONTACT: Lani Phillips, UW León Center; 206-616-9579,

Leon Center award groupThe awards ceremonyRandal Beam accepting the awardRandal Beam, left, professor emeritus of communication, with Santos Rodríguez, the coordinator of the UW León Center.Accepting the awardThe UW Leon Center at Palacio Conde Luna

UW honored for inclusive global engagement

The University of Washington has been named a finalist by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) for its Institutional Award for Global Learning, Research & Engagement. The winner will be announced during the 2017 APLU Annual Meeting in Washington, DC this November.

Honorees demonstrate commitment to and institutional evidence of:

  • Inclusive global engagement by all students
  • Global research engagement
  • Leadership commitment
  • Assessment of progress

APLU recognizes the UW as an leading institution pioneering inclusive and comprehensive strategies for enhancing global engagement. “Global experience has never been more important for graduates to have in our interconnected world,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “We look forward to spotlighting the innovative practices [the finalists] pioneered so that other public universities can draw from those efforts.”


CONTACT: Sara Stubbs, UW Office of Global Affairs; 206-616-8427,

Global health symposium draws leaders from afar

World leaders in global health are featured speakers at the UW public symposium, “Global Health: Next Decade, Next Generation” today. The public conference marks the 10th anniversary of the UW Department of Global Health as well as the anniversaries of many other Seattle-based global health organizations. The event is free and open to the public.

Read more…

From refugee to MEDEX student

Along with his family, Frantz Alphonse came to the U.S. at age 7 as a refugee from Haiti. This experience has given him a strong sense of empathy underserved communities. Along with eight years as a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman, this experience makes him a great fit for MEDEX.

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