New York University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 1060-1066
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
New York University (NYU) states that “universities exist for a simple yet profound reason: to create new knowledge through research and discovery and to pass on knowledge to the next generation. It is also the duty of every university to prepare its students to become engaged and contributing citizens”(NYU, 2011). To “engage” and “contribute” to a society also serves to transform it. More than 40 percent of NYU’s 20,000+ undergraduate students studied abroad during the 2010-11 academic year, shaping and being shaped by the people and cultures in which they were immersed. As universities continue to extend their reach abroad they are challenged to carefully consider both the perceived and tangible impact they have on the communities in which they operate. In doing so, universities themselves are required to act as global citizens, not simply as producers of global citizens.

Discussions surrounding the internationalization of higher education have often focused on student mobility and market forces as motivating factors behind University support of international programs (Gioia and Thomas, 1996, Miliken 1990). Universities themselves contribute to the dialogue by highlighting their roles as promoters of global citizenship and the importance of preparing graduates for an increasingly interconnected world. Schools that are able to effectively develop their international programs understand the importance of stressing both institutional growth and value added to students when communicating their vision to stakeholders, but there is another dimension that complicates matters for universities operating abroad. By their nature, educational institutions act as agents of cultural transformation and help to shape the identities of the societies in which they function. Unavoidably, a relationship is formed between the foreign institution and the local “host” community through which cultural identity is transmitted freely between the “observer” and “participant”(Benhabib, 2002). The process of cultural exchange is accelerated as study abroad programs in higher education increasingly stress the importance of engaging with local cultures beyond the standpoint of mere observation through active engagement and outreach. While some would criticize such efforts on the part of universities as means to push their broader agendas of ideological and institutional advancement (Apple, 2001), this type of involvement does have the potential to provide myriad benefits to the local population while benefitting the goals of the universities themselves.

As a “private university in the public service”(NYU, 2011) NYU now strives to adhere to its mandate and serve a community that extends far beyond its Manhattan campus by creating locally responsive academic programming and outreach initiatives abroad. This paper examines the ways in which NYU formally engages with the local communities of the 10 international sites that currently make up its “Global Network University.” It will review NYU sponsored service learning coursework, action oriented research, volunteer opportunities, internships and other non-classroom based activities, and assess the potential of these examples as future models for universities seeking to bolster their community engagement efforts internationally.
International Higher Education, Global Network, Study Abroad, Cultural Exchange, Community Engagement, Global Citizenship, Portal Campus.