By Kristen Walsh
Building global connections is no longer a choice or a perk—it’s a must. And for higher education, it provides opportunities not only for knowledge sharing—students, faculty, and alumni—but for helping to impact change on many levels.
“As communication is so universally and instantaneously available, societies are seeing rapid change,” says Wentworth Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Eric Overström. “There is a real opportunity for higher education to engage by helping to educate international students—women and men—so they can return home to contribute to their economy. It’s an exciting time.”
Overström is quick to point out that U.S. institutions like Wentworth complement universities abroad. For example, partnering with a university to provide a master’s in architecture where it isn’t offered. These kinds of conversations are what led Overström and a group of other Wentworth senior officials—Associate Director of International Relations Paula Bula; Director of the Graduate Program Kelly Hutzell; President Zorica Panti?; and Vice President of Institutional Advancement Paula Sakey—to travel to various regions of the Middle East in spring 2018.
“Our trip had multiple goals,” Sakey says. “In addition to exploring mutually beneficial opportunities—study abroad, student and faculty exchange, and co-ops—and undergraduate recruitment, we also cultivated and strengthened relationships with our alumni and their families and parents of current students.”
Relationship building is something that is highly valued in international cultures. The team’s visits to Middle Eastern universities, for example, were often arranged by alumni. Many opened their homes for elaborate dinners with extended family and local business and community members.
The trip’s success lays the groundwork for connecting with alumni and universities in other countries and building on existing relationships. Students have studied in countries such as
England, Switzerland, Australia, and Spain, and completed co-ops in Ireland and Germany. In the spring, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and Blittersdorf Professor Abigail Charest and Shivani Kumar, BCSC ’18, attended the 2018 International Conference on Architecture and Civil Engineering in Singapore,
where Kumar won a Best Student Paper Award for “A Coast to Coast Analysis of Net Zero Energy Buildings Building Envelope Comparison.”
“Much of being successful is about timing, and the time to expand globally is now,” says Overström. “The next five to 10 years in global education are going to be really interesting.”