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As a global research University, the UW has a key role in our global future

As I recently shared in my annual address, the University of Washington has an opportunity – and responsibility – to reimagine our role in the world. We are a global research University with unique assets and untapped capacity to address the planet’s most pressing challenges. Racial and economic inequity, threats to democracy, climate change, pandemics and health care – these issues and countless others transcend borders and continents, and they demand complex, interdisciplinary and cross-sector solutions. As we celebrate UW’s 4th annual Global Month, I’m proud of the many ways in which our community is globally engaged, and excited for the possibilities as we seek new ways to connect and partner with colleagues, communities and institutions around the world.

Global engagement is taking place across our campuses among undergrads, graduate and professional students, faculty and staff. More than 8,300 international students are enrolled on our three campuses, contributing to the diverse and vibrant student life as our graduates prepare to enter a global workforce and contribute to creating a better world. Our Unite UW program enables international and domestic students to connect, break down barriers and learn from each other; more than 1,700 students have completed the program since 2016. And this year, more than 2,400 students studied abroad, living and learning in a different culture, including at the UW Rome Center where students can participate in our new Rome in Residence program.

Our Office of Global Affairs is also leading several new initiatives to build community and foster innovation and inclusivity at the UW. They include a Global Innovation Fund to advance global, interdisciplinary research, the COIL Fellows 2023 Program, building on several years of collaboration between the UW Bothell and UW Tacoma campuses, to foster multicultural and transnational learning, and the Global Visionaries series featuring stories celebrating globally-engaged members of our academic community. Whether it’s through the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and its area research centers, the Global Innovation Exchange, our Population Health Initiative or one of the many partnerships and projects in more than 130 countries, our community is deeply engaged in scholarship, discovery, service and community engagement across a staggering range of issues and topics. And this year, we will debut the new Excellence in Global Engagement Award honoring one faculty or staff member for their work to advance global engagement.

Our world is deeply interconnected, and growing more so by the day. Our students and the public we serve all benefit from the UW’s global engagement as a conveners, partners, trusted brokers and knowledge diplomats. As I was reminded during a forum with educational leaders from around the world in a recent visit to Japan, many of the issues we face here in the Pacific Northwest – from earthquakes to health care crises – are the same issues that other nations and geographies face. Working with our international colleagues, sharing in cultural exchange and leveraging the unique qualities of a large, public research university like the UW will be essential to meeting these universal challenges. I’m excited to continue this work and impact together.