The United States has enjoyed and continues to enjoy a certain amount of preeminence in terms of the strength of its system of higher education, which is admired and emulated around the world. But we should not allow that strength to prevent us from seeing what is happening globally—in other systems of higher education, in the aspirations of other countries, in what Fareed Zakaria aptly characterizes as “the rise of the rest.” One of the most important enterprises in the 21st century is going to be the growth of higher education worldwide.
In the report, therefore, I think the big question really is this: How do we want to behave? How do we want to comport ourselves as institutions of higher education in the United States as we look out across the world? The practical operational concerns that our institutions face are being challenged by the need to be more global. One of the most important messages in the report is that we have to figure creative, strategic, effective ways to engage globally without breaking the bank at home. Indeed, at this stage in history, being effective as an institution of higher learning means being globally engaged. What does this mean to different types of institutions? The report offers some pragmatic suggestions for how ACE and its member institutions can shape strategies and goals to be more globally oriented.
Patti McGill Peterson is the presidential advisor for global initiatives, American Council on Education.