As the academic year begins, we wanted to take this opportunity to jumpstart this year’s campus-wide discussion about undergraduate and graduate academic planning for the global sites (as well as to provide some context and background for those discussions).
We heard several recurring themes during our conversations with faculty, deans, and department chairs over the past year, and in our discussions with the GNU Initiatives Committee of the Faculty Senators Council, as well as the Faculty Advisory Committee on NYU’s Global Network, with whom we met last spring and over the summer. While there has been a process for curricular planning for the global sites over many years, it is clear these conversations often took place in silos. We repeatedly heard that there is a strong desire by many faculty to bring together representatives of departments, schools, and sites in order to create a more collaborative and comprehensive process of academic planning going forward.
In response to this feedback from faculty, department chairs, and deans, we believe that we now have a structure for achieving this academic planning process, which we outline below.
During 2012-13, the faculty of each school and department were encouraged to explore whether they might be interested in developing a formal relationship with a global site or sites. These discussions took place in a variety of venues, such as departmental meetings, decanal conversations with chairs, and school-wide faculty meetings. Some departments and schools decided that they were interested in investing time in developing more meaningful partnerships with the sites; others wanted to continue to deliberate about which site(s) had the greatest potential for enriching their faculty’s scholarly or curricular interests. Finally, a few departments decided that they would not have a formal relationship with any of the sites at the present time.
We want to reassure all faculty that there is still ample opportunity to deliberate within their departments and schools about potential collaborations with the global sites.
The Past — Approving and Planning Course Offerings/Hires at the Global Sites
Over the past several years, the Office of Global Programs has worked closely with departments and schools to review the courses that they offer at the various sites and to approve the faculty who have been identified to teach these courses. While this process worked well for many academic units, for others, there was a sense that they were not as engaged as they would have liked. Often, there was cross-unit collaboration in curriculum planning (e.g., cross-listing courses) and in the deployment of local faculty (e.g., faculty who taught courses for more than one department or school). But occasionally communication among the participating academic units and faculty was less than optimal; indeed, some schools and departments did not feel that their particular interests at a site were well represented in the curriculum planning process. Similarly, local site faculty sometimes felt removed from the curricular planning process.
In an effort to engage departments and schools more directly in global site academic planning and to share the local and distinct expertise of faculty at each of the sites, we have identified two levels of relationship that academic units can have with a global site: (a) academic partnerships and (b) academic affiliations. Both of these relationships are explained below (see items #1 and #2). In response to the faculty feedback we received, and in an effort to ensure that the curriculum development process for the global sites is more inclusive and better informed, we have developed a new committee structure called "Global Site-Specific Advisory Committees" (see item #3 below).
1. Academic Partnership with a Global Site
An “academic partnership” implies that a department or school has a significant scholarly and curricular stake in a given site. As such, an academic partnership connotes that the academic unit will sponsor extensive coursework at the site in order to develop a curricular pathway there for its students, and that it is willing to take an active role in determining academic and scholarly developments at the site. More than 60 departments and schools now have academic partnerships with the global sites. The current list of academic partnerships is available here.
2. Academic Affiliation with a Global Site
An "academic affiliation" with a global site means that a department or school currently offers or plans to offer at least one course at that site. These may be “service courses” (i.e., courses that are required for multiple majors or for general education programs). This is an important relationship, but it does not imply the level of engagement involved in an “academic partnership.” The current list of academic affiliations is available here.
3. Global Site-Specific Advisory Committees
“Global Site-Specific Advisory Committees” are being created with the goal of engaging faculty to determine the academic direction of each global site and to ensure the quality and coordination of curricular offerings, as well as research, co-curricular, and programmatic initiatives. Beginning this fall, every global site—excluding Paris (see item #4 below) and the portals (see item #5 below) for now—will have its own committee.
Each committee will meet two to four times per semester and will be composed of faculty representatives from those departments and schools that have developed an academic partnership with the site; faculty representatives from NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, as appropriate; the site director; and at least one local faculty member. Representation on these committees is currently being organized at the school, departmental, and site level. Finally, one of us (Linda or Matthew) will also participate on each committee.
Each year, one or two meetings of each committee will be dedicated to discussions about course offerings at the site, with a particular focus on courses that serve multiple constituencies. These yearly curriculum meetings will be open to all departments and schools that offer coursework at the site. Thus, any department or school that has either an academic partnership or an academic affiliation with a global site will have the opportunity to participate in discussions about the curriculum at a given site. These discussions will focus on the planning that occurs across schools and departments; approvals for courses that are strictly within the domain of a single academic unit will continue to be handled as they have been (inside the department or school). The site-specific curriculum discussions will focus on the following year’s courses, as we will need to do horizon planning at the sites, as we do at all of our campuses. We anticipate that the first curriculum meetings, which will bring together the academic partnership and affiliation departments and schools, will occur in late October or early November.
4. Exception: Paris
As the Paris site prepares to move to a new physical space, we will take this year to focus on a smooth transition to the new building, and to assess the tremendous interest from schools and departments in new academic partnerships and affiliations. Starting in late fall, we will hold several planning meetings for the Paris site, engaging departments and schools that are interested in pursuing academic partnerships and affiliations.
5. NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai
We will convene Global Site-Specific Advisory Committees for NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai in spring 2014. Both portals currently serve as study-away sites and it is important, therefore, to establish a process for focusing faculty discussions around the courses that are available to students at the portal sites.
As noted, faculty representatives from departments and schools that have already committed to an academic partnership with a global site are currently being nominated. In the next week, these representatives will be invited to attend the initial Global Site-Specific Advisory Committee meetings. After these initial meetings take place, we expect to produce a yearlong schedule of meetings for each committee, so that participating faculty can plan accordingly.
If your department or school has not yet completed discussions regarding academic partnerships or affiliations, please do not feel rushed. These discussions should continue at whatever pace feels comfortable. As has been the practice, once departments and schools have had the opportunity to discuss how they might want to engage with a global site, they should work closely with their deans and also with the Office of Global Programs to discuss the relationships that they would like to pursue and to ensure that their programmatic and academic needs can be met, given both site capacity and schools’ and departments’ specific needs for instruction.
In the weeks and months ahead, we will also begin updating the NYU website to ensure that it reflects the academic focus of each of our global sites, as well as the increased faculty collaboration across the network. In keeping with our goal to further enhance faculty awareness about developments at the global sites, we will also begin publishing a global site newsletter, so as to enhance the visibility of these collaborations and to highlight the exciting news that flows from this faculty engagement.
Let us end by thanking you for all the work you have done already on global planning and to seek your ongoing feedback. As we organize the Global Site-Specific Advisory Committees and develop a process for University-wide discussions, we are sure to experience some bumps in the road. We want to hear from you about what is working and what might need additional attention. We encourage you to contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to discuss any global site-related issue, large or small. We do meet regularly with the chairs of the Faculty Advisory Committee on NYU’s Global Network -- Una Chaudhuri and Eliot Borenstein -- in case you would like to direct your feedback to them.