GLOBAL + LOCAL = GLOCAL
Trinity is “glocal.”
In my first year as president of Trinity College, even with numerous competing interests, I visited five international destinations: London, Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Trinidad and Tobago. All year, I also remained very connected to our home city of Hartford in many ways, through on-campus activities, serving on several local boards of trustees, and taking part in numerous Neighborhood Revitalization Zone meetings.
This vital combination of global and local is what “glocal” is all about. This is a differentiating characteristic of the liberal arts at Trinity that resonates deeply with me.
The College draws a significant proportion of students from outside the United States. In 2014-2015, 17 percent of Trinity’s undergraduates joined our campus community from 62 foreign countries. International students bring with them unique perspectives and fresh ideas. And when they are on campus, they quickly learn that many of their professors have ties to their homelands or that their professors are addressing important international issues in their scholarship and teaching. Trinity also sends a majority of its students to study-away locations throughout the world, with nearly 60 percent of Bantams studying away at some point prior to graduation.
If you look at our curriculum, you will see that virtually every department has some involvement in a global issue. Trinity students are educated and trained to care about these issues, as well as to use their education to tackle the challenges facing our world.
Making a difference right here at home is also deeply embedded in the College’s DNA. We have outreach in Greater Hartford through established curricular programs, internships, community service opportunities, and more. This wide array of community interaction and initiatives keeps us connected to our home base, to our local roots. Additionally, across the curriculum, we have offerings that emphasize urban issues, and Hartford, more specifically. An urban emphasis is evident in research efforts across departments and programs.
We also have Trinity alumni who are prominent citizens in the area, serving in government, working in major industries and education, and making a difference as local entrepreneurs. They are using their Trinity education to better our own backyard.
Trinity’s glocal focus helps distinguish us from our peer schools; while some may have global elements, few have similar opportunities in the urban/local arena. They are not located in the legislative capital of the state, nor in a city with major industries and multiple significant educational institutions.
A perfect example of Trinity’s glocal nature may be found in the College’s River Cities and Sustainable Development summer study-away program run through the Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS). Since 2009, seven iterations of the program have been mounted, with faculty members in different disciplines – from urban studies and sociology to environmental science to history and more – coming together with our students to study the river cities of Asia. They then connect that learning to our river city of Hartford. This program, which creates a bridge between Hartford and the world, lies at the heart of being glocal.
Underlying Trinity’s liberal arts education is the fact that no individual subject area or division is going to be able to solve and resolve the challenges – whether global or local – of the future. It is through coordination and collaboration among different disciplines and different regions of the world that we will find solutions.
WHAT MORE CAN WE DO?
I want to strengthen our presence – with alumni, parents, and friends – in major international cities to form a robust, worldwide Trinity network that would serve as a resource to Bantams as they graduate and explore the globe. And while we have a relatively large international undergraduate population, we should increase the number of foreign students studying here for shorter periods of time as well, for a semester or a summer, as Trinity students may do in Trinidad, at Fudan University in China, or elsewhere. I also envision tapping into our distinguishing feature of having an accredited engineering program within a liberal arts environment, offering an ideal setting for students from countries where engineers, often rigidly tracked in their scientific field, would have the opportunity to expand their educational horizons through exposure to the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
An enormous benefit of being glocal – both global and local – is that it reminds us of what I believe is the very purpose of education: empowering individuals to empower others.
Why now? One need only look to the newspaper headlines to know that our country still has pockets of parochialism. An educated citizenry must respect other cultures and their worldviews. There simply couldn’t be a better time to be glocal.