In this issue of Global Perspectives, you will find the following stories.
Vice Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs William Brustein has selected Kelechi Kalu as the next Associate Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs at Ohio State. Subject to approval by the Ohio State’s Board of Trustees, his appointment is effective July 1, 2012. Kalu is currently the director of the Center for African Studies and a professor of African American and African Studies at Ohio State. Dieter Wanner, the current Associate Provost, will retire at the end of June, remaining with the Office of International Affairs until that time to ensure a smooth transition in leadership.
"Kelechi is a highly accomplished scholar possessing tremendous passion for preparing students for the global challenges and opportunities of the 21st century," Brustein said. “The position of Associate Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs is crucial to the success of Ohio State’s plans for internationalization and eminence, and Dieter has made considerable contributions to the internationalization of The Ohio State University during the past five years. I look forward to Kelechi continuing the course Dieter has established in support of the evolution of this global university.”
Kalu is a Korea Foundation visiting scholar at Ewha Womans University, and has previously held positions at the University of Denver, the University of Dayton and the University of Northern Colorado.
He is currently serving as associate editor of both the International Journal of Nigerian Studies and Development and the African Social Science Review, and is a member of the International Screening Committee for the Social Science Research Council program on Global Conflicts and Security. A past president of the International Studies Association-Southwestern, Kalu is also the author of Economic Development and Nigerian Foreign Policy, recipient of African Scholars Research Board 2000 Excellence in Authorship award.
Kalu earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics at the University of North Texas, a master’s degree in political science and international affairs from the University of Dayton and a doctorate in international studies from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
“It is a privilege for me to help Ohio State achieve its goal of global preeminence through strategic internationalization in learning, discovery and engagement,” said Kalu. “I look forward to working with faculty and staff, helping Ohio State students navigate the complex global marketplace, and guiding those citizens from Ohio and abroad who desire to know, discover and engage the world.”
When we left Columbus in early March to spend 10 days traveling in India, we had high hopes for building upon Ohio State’s global connections. A small delegation from Ohio State, led by President E. Gordon Gee and myself traveled to Ahmedabad, New Dehli and Mumbai, to forge new partnerships in research, connect with our alumni, meet with high school students interested in pursuing degrees in the United States – hopefully at Ohio State – and most importantly, officially open the Ohio State India Gateway in Mumbai, our second international office. The Ohio State China Gateway in the downtown business section of Shanghai opened in the summer of 2010.
Ratnesh Bhattacharya, who serves as our director of the India Gateway, had arrived in Mumbai just a week earlier, and had taken care of finalizing much of our arrangements in-country. Ratnesh is a two-time Ohio State graduate, most recently from the Moritz College of Law. Based in Mumbai, he will focus on developing our alumni network and facilitating academic and corporate partnerships in India and beyond.
Our schedule in India was tight, but worthwhile. President Gee had been invited to give a keynote address at the EDGE Conference on Higher Education in New Dehli; the Distinguished Lecture at the world-renown Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad; and a major address before the Indian Merchants Chamber in Mumbai.
During our stay we signed a new Memoranda of Understanding with IIM – where we have an ongoing MBA student exchange program – that will focus on agribusiness. The new MOU makes a total of six between Ohio State and universities in India. And we met with some of our Ohio State alumni who are now working and teaching in India.
It also was fortunate to have a representative from the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin of Central Ohio with us in New Dehli and Mumbai when we met with leadership of the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences and the Tata Trust to discuss collaboration focusing on health related issues in India. AAPI had held a gala to benefit the India Gateway, which raised $42,000 to help offset operating expenses for the India Gateway office.
Working in India is nothing new for Ohio State. The university has been collaborating with universities and corporations in India since 1958, focusing on advancements in educational training and agricultural research.
Most recently, researchers from Ohio State and Pondicherry University have teamed up to study the evolutionary effects of gene flow between crops and their wild relatives, supporting further research in the areas of food production, safety and supply. Students from the Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore, India, are collaborating to study the challenges of marketing products internationally. Ohio State’s internationally recognized Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is working with partners in India on the development of a joint executive education program in automotive noise and vibration control.
It is these types of partnerships that strengthen Ohio State’s vision to be a global university. The opening of the India Gateway only enhances the opportunities available to our students and faculty to engage with our partners in India. We look forward to the results.
William Brustein, Ph.D., is vice provost for global strategies and international affairs. His work at Ohio State is dedicated to fully integrating international and multicultural experiences to the academic units within the university and expanding and enhancing our global reach.
Imagine writing your dissertation on a piece of art you can barely see. That was the dilemma facing Brid Arthur, a PhD candidate in the Department of History of Art. Her focus of study is Tibetan and Buddhist art, and her dissertation is on Lhasa paintings, a small and very specific subset of Tibetan architectural painting. Lhasa paintings are essentially maps, created between 1800 and 1950. Unlike much of Tibetan art, which is often religious or otherwise “otherworldly,” these paintings depict the layout of, and daily life in, the capital city of Lhasa. The problem with this project is that “only some of these paintings are published, and those that are are usually just tiny black-and-white photographs. The paintings themselves are enormous – as big as 6 feet by 10 feet – and yet the detail may be less than one inch high. That is simply impossible to see in a small photograph in a book,” Arthur said. Her solution? Study abroad and see the paintings in person.
Thanks to funding from the Office of International Affairs and the Phyliss Krumm Memorial International Scholarship, Arthur was able to spend three months in Europe, visiting Lhasa paintings in Paris, Brussels, Stockholm, Basel, Antwerp and London. Seeing the works up close allowed Arthur to view the afore-mentioned tiny detail, to copy down the miniscule inscriptions – in Tibetan, Nepalese, even English – found on the maps and to investigate the condition of the paintings themselves. “For example,” explained Arthur, “many of these paintings have vertical cracking on the surface. This indicates that they were rolled up and stored that way for much of the time… these paintings were probably not hung on the wall, but were transported around and brought out to look at only from time to time.”
Visiting the paintings in person also gave Arthur the opportunity to speak with curators, who provided insights on this under-researched phenomenon. These talks revealed everything from why the Lhasa paintings are different from other Tibetan art – “ I found that although the paintings form a cohesive set, each painting shows a degree of uniqueness and individuality that is rare in Tibetan art,” – to why they were in the museum in the first place.“They were highly prized by foreign collectors because they described a city which was basically inaccessible,” she explained. Foreign travelers were generally prohibited from visiting Lhasa in the time these paintings were created.
One of Arthur’s favorite conversations concerned the Lhasa painting in the British Museum. That one is a mystery; no one knows where it came from, or who originally purchased it. The head of the Tibetan Collection told Arthur about several researchers who have visited that particular painting, and what they each surmised about its origin. Had she not studied abroad, she would not have been privy to the thoughts of the researchers before her, as the theories she discussed with the curator were unpublished. Indeed, Arthur considers all these conversations with curators invaluable, as much of the information gleaned is not published anywhere.
Ultimately, conducting her research abroad allowed Arthur to connect with these works in more ways than one. “Travelling allowed me to see the paintings in person and make a direct connection with them,” she said. “This helps in intimately knowing a painting, its details and its condition. And making an assessment like this is crucial for art historians.”
“Champions of Change” is a program in which individuals from across the country doing extraordinary work in their communities are invited to a reception in their honor at the White House. On January 30th, the Ohio State community was well represented, with three of the 14 honorees connected to the university in some way.
The White House celebrates leaders in different fields every week, and those honored in late January were leaders in American diaspora communities with roots in the Horn of Africa. Ilhan Dahir, Sagal Ali, and Abdi Roble – all affiliated with Ohio State – are working for change in the Somali diaspora community in Columbus: first-year English and political science major Dahir through activism and diversity work; alumna Ali through literacy efforts and grassroots advocacy; and visiting scholar Roble through photography and documentation.
On her Champions of Change blog, hosted on whitehouse.gov, first generation Somali-American Dahir described how she began her work in diversity in high school. She found it disheartening that the “different nationalities, languages and faiths” in her diverse high school created not learning opportunities, but tension. She began working in her school’s Diversity Groups – forums for interfaith and cross-cultural dialogues and activities. Once she reached Ohio State, she took her advocacy a step further, creating her own initiative. Interfaith Youth Service Corps is comprised of socially conscious students from all different faiths coming together in the spirit of community service.
The email inviting her to the White House came as a surprise. Dahir was one of the youngest honorees, and admitted she found herself a little overwhelmed. Meeting accomplished leaders in her field, though, filled her with hope that a permanent, positive impact on a community is achievable. She said the experience “has encouraged me to continue down a road of service understanding so as to serve my community to the best of my ability.” Dahir acknowledged that change will not come overnight. “If there is one thing to take from my work,” she said, “it's that making a change for the better in one's community is a matter of taking a series of incremental yet essential steps toward progress. It isn't extravagant or conspicuous; it is a matter of hard work and a strong support system.”
After completing her bachelor's degree in English at Ohio State and her master’s in global health at Columbia, Ali said she “recognized that illiteracy and poor educational outcomes are linked to the mutually reinforcing conditions of poverty and ill health,” adding that she believes that “investing in education and literacy can prevent these intergenerational cycles of deprivation.” Supporting her work with the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Ready to Read Corps is her belief that “education is the great equalizer.” Ready to Read Corps is an initiative that helps parents and caregivers in low-income communities prepare their children for kindergarten.
Beyond her literacy work, Ali has also co-founded two organizations directly focused on diaspora communities – End Famine and Iftiin. She believes these organizations can help build better Somali leaders and find solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the community. Ali recognizes the Somali-American community as one committed to addressing the poverty facing Somalia, and said she is “inspired by these everyday heroes and changemakers that are winning the future by uplifting and engaging their communities in service work.”
Roble, a visiting scholar in the Center for African Studies, was born in Somalia, but was living in Columbus when the civil war broke out in his home country. He began to see a great number of Somali people arriving in Columbus, and noticed, “the Somalis and the main stream communities did not immediately understand or adjust to each other.” Roble wanted to help, but as a photographer, was not sure how his skills could best serve his community.
In 2003, Roble found the answer. He created the Somali Documentary Project, which provides a documented history of the worldwide Somali diaspora. The works of the project have been shown from New York to North Dakota, and “hopefully,” said Roble, “have helped the Somali and mainstream communities come to understand each other, so that they could form respectful, working relationships.”
The Project has met with great success, but Roble is always very conscious that “the real heroes are people who have been through a lot.” On his Champions of Change blog, Roble says, “by the time a refugee arrives in the United States, that person has demonstrated more courage, tenacity and raw intelligence than most of us will ever be called upon to exercise,” concluding that they “deserve the admiration of all of us.”
Helen (Hang) Fan
Home country and city:
I came to OSU in Fall 2007, so it's my fifth year here.
I completed my master's degree in evolution in 2010. And now I'm a PhD student in Statistics, graduating in 2013 (expected).
What are your career plans after college?
I'm hoping to continue my career as a statistician. As to in academia or industry, I'm still deciding.
How long have you been in the United States/Columbus?
I've been here for over four years in U.S./Columbus.
Why did you choose Ohio State? I chose OSU because I got the offer in a master's program in an area I'm interested in. And I also Googled the city of Columbus and it seemed like a nice city to live and study in, which have been approved now!
What most surprised you about your experience in Columbus and the United States? I found people here drive everywhere and seldom use public transportation. While back in China, I was used to taking buses/subways/taxies as transportation.
What has been the hardest thing to adapt to since you've come to Columbus?
I would say the hardest thing for me to adapt to is the "culture shock,” even though I grew up with Disney cartoons, Hollywood movies and American music. It is hard to describe but only could be experienced while living in this culture. After four years living in the U.S. and socializing with people from all over the world at OSU, I have a much better understanding of American culture and other cultures. And I think I have adapted to here well and truly have been enjoying the diversity in OSU.
What have you done to keep yourself busy (outside of class)?
As a "always-busy-working" PhD student, I try not to make myself busy out of school. In my free time, I go to gym regularly, hang out with friends, cook at home or surf on the internet.
What is the most fun/exciting thing you've done since you arrived at Ohio State?
My life in Ohio State has been fun all the time. The most fun thing recently should be the road trip to Oklahoma for a conference in summer 2011, with my advisor and other people in my lab group. And I like traveling in the U.S. and I've been to many U.S. cities so far.
How has the Office of International Affairs helped you adapt to campus life?
I got help from OIA for visa issues mostly. Last time when I was on vacation back in Beijing, China, I lost my form needed for coming back. With the help of OIA and my advisor, my friend mailed a new form to me. And I also participated in the orientation when I just arrived, which was helpful for me to get familiar with our "huge" campus!
After months spent familiarizing themselves with African politics and the African Union, 10 Ohio State students represented the nation of Liberia and served as the inaugural delegation of South Sudan at the National Model African Union Conference in Washington, D.C. in February. The annual conference, hosted by Howard University, brings together students from over 30 universities around the country to debate and propose solutions to Africa’s most pressing conflicts and issues in a simulation of the African Union proceedings.
The students completed three months of research and preparation prior to the conference, studying the history and the social, political and economic issues of Liberia and South Sudan by conducting group research and meeting with experts from Ohio State and the Columbus community. Members crafted draft resolutions to present at the national level, and many of these drafts were adopted into the conference’s final resolutions, ratified by the body and sent to the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The group is advised by Kelechi Kalu, director, and Laura Joseph, assistant director, of the Center for African Studies. During the course of the weekend, nations negotiated and approved resolutions on subjects ranging from food security, HIV/AIDS and a common tariff system. The assembled student delegations also grappled with a simulated crisis involving escalated hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan.
In addition to participating in the three days of committee meetings, the Ohio State delegation met with the staffs of the Liberian and South Sudanese Embassies to discuss the positions the nations hold on key issues. The students look forward to incorporating their increased understanding of African issues and solutions into their studies at Ohio State, and will begin preparation for next year’s conference during Autumn Semester 2012.
Alexander Wendt is Ralph D. Mershon Professor of International Security at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies. He is also the most influential scholar in his field in the last 20 years, as decided by over 7,000 of his peers and colleagues at more than 1,400 colleges and universities worldwide. The deciding survey comes from the Teaching, Research, and Policy (TRIP) Project, put forth by the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations at the College of William and Mary. In the recently published results, Wendt is named as having the most influence in the field of international relations over the past 20 years; as producing the best work in the field of international relations over the same time period; and was ranked third for having produced the most interesting scholarship over the past five years.
What first interested you in studying international relations?
I became interested in international politics specifically when I was 14, when my grandmother gave me a subscription to the Christian Science Monitor, but I had already been interested in military history for several years before that, which leads very naturally into politics.
How did you hear about your final standings in the survey?
I heard the news from a colleague who had seen the article in Foreign Policy. However, in the previous survey they did two years ago I had come in second in overall influence, and the survey two years before that I had placed third (for both of which I got plenty of attention here at OSU, so I've been trying to keep a low profile this time around!)
What was your initial reaction upon hearing the news?
Apart from being thrilled, my initial reaction was also that A. my colleagues are going to start grumbling if this keeps happening, and, as a result, B. they may start to ask, "What have you done for us lately?” which is very much on my mind as well!
Wendt is author of Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge, 1999), widely cited for bringing social constructivist theory to the field of international relations. His book argues that international politics is determined not primarily by material concerns such as wealth and power, but by states' perceptions of each other as rivals, enemies and friends. Social Theory of International Politics was named Best Book of the Decade by the International Studies Association in 2006 and has been translated into 10 languages.
“My experience with the Fundación José Ortega y Gasset program involved spending six weeks in the small town of Toledo, Spain, 45 minutes south of Madrid. I took three different classes, all taught in Spanish, in the areas of culture, literature and ethnology. Only having class Monday through Thursday left the weekends free for travel and exploration around all parts of the country; some trips were orchestrated by the school, and others were individually planned. Students had the opportunity either to live with a host family or in the dorm; I chose to stay in the dorm, finding that traveling through the cities provided plenty of chances to converse with native Spanish speakers while simultaneously forging close friendships with the others in the dorm. Studying abroad was the most ideal way to immerse myself in a culture about which I otherwise never would have learned, allowing me to broaden my worldview and expand my respect for diversity."
Anupama is a senior majoring in biochemistry and Spanish.
“For my research trip to Berlin, I was moved to discover who Magnus Hirschfeld was and what all he had done for members of the gay community. While standing on the former location of his research institute, which is now home to the German Chancellory, and visiting the numerous monuments and memorials dedicated to him, I felt quite connected to the topic I was undertaking, something I look forward to experiencing again with future research. Being able to directly connect with Germans is always a highlight being abroad. Germans have the unique quality of not being able to produce "small talk," which is fantastic because it opens up conversations and allows for more meaningful discussions. So in this regard, immersing oneself in the community is one of the most memorable parts of any trip abroad with the Bonn Program, and for me, this included my experience in the classroom working directly with other students, participating in the Buddy Program and Gastfamilie Program, as well as volunteering at the elementary school and going to as many cultural activities and events as possible. Another memorable part of my experience was seeing myself succeed in and contribute to the university courses I took; it is a wonderful feeling of achievement when you know you can complete academic coursework in a foreign language at a foreign institution, especially when you can do it with just as much success."
David is a senior majoring in Germanic language and culture and international business.
The Peace Corps released its yearly ranking of universities producing the most Peace Corps volunteers, and Ohio State has once again made the list. The Ohio State University ranked 13th among the top 25 large universities, with 71 alumni currently serving abroad. Ohio State also appears in the rankings of the top 10 all-time highest producers of Peace Corps volunteers, taking the number 10 spot with 1,613 alumni volunteering since the program's inception in 1961.
One such alumna is Judith Bustos, a 2008 graduate from the School of Environment and Natural Resources. She is currently serving in Paraguay with her husband, another Ohio State graduate. She volunteers in education, while he serves as a rural health and sanitation volunteer. They’ve been in Paraguay since February 2011.
When asked about her primary responsibilities, Bustos said, “As a volunteer in education and youth development, I work with primary and secondary grade teachers, students and principals to strengthen basic reading, writing and math skills. I also work with students to improve their life skills and community service by working and empowering youth.” She works on secondary projects as well, such as creating solar fruit dryers and organic gardens, composting and teaching English.
Bustos said that Ohio State prepared her well for international service in that the university “helped me adapt to people of different backgrounds such as ethnicities, religions, race and forms of thought because OSU is so diverse, especially the professors.”
Upon her return from Paraguay, Bustos said she would like to earn her master’s degree in landscape architecture, perhaps start an architecture and landscape architecture firm with her husband and “of course,” she ssaid, “become a volunteer in my future community and work on different issues such as environmental awareness, education and organic farming.”
Mozambique is currently home for Chris and Laurie Williams, two more married alumni committed to humanitarian service through the Peace Corps. Chris, a 2004 graduate in chemical engineering, was actually born during his parent's Peace Corps service in Malawi, and so has always been aware of the impact a volunteer can have on the world.
His wife Laurie, a 2004 graduate in public affairs journalism, "had always been intrigued by the Peace Corps, especially after knowing the positive effects it had on the lives of those who have served, particularly my in-laws." The Williams said Ohio State prepared them for their Peace Corps service by encouraging them to look at problems creatively and inspiring them to "pursue working for a more ‘resilient’ society."
The couple is careful not to set themselves on any one particular outcome from their time in service. To gauge the positive effects of their work, Chris intends to look for “small differences from the status quo […] any signs from the community, which show that I am helping to inspire and empower individuals to bring about their own change.” Laurie considers a realistic goal to be making a difference person by person. “If I help even one student by improving their English language skills, or breaking American stereotypes,” she said, “I will consider it a success.”
Peace Corps volunteers traditionally serve for 27 months, putting their skills to work in a few key areas: education and English teaching; agriculture, forestry and environment; public health and HIV/AIDS; youth and community development; math and science, and engineering; and business, planning and IT. Applicants are encouraged to apply for Peace Corps service one year in advance of their desired departure date. Currently, Peace Corps is in need of applicants with backgrounds in agriculture, environment, education, teaching English as a second language and French language skills.