UC Berkeley to augment study abroad model

Editor’s note: This is part of our wider coverage of the inauguration of Nicholas Dirks as UC Berkeley’s 10th chancellor on Nov. 8, 2013. Click here to see our page documenting the day.

In a Friday discussion on engagement between universities and the global community, UC Berkeley’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer discussed the ways in which the campus study abroad program is being adapted to more closely resemble that of Columbia University.

During a morning symposium held in International House’s Chevron Auditorium before the inauguration of UC Berkeley’s 10th chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, Breslauer spoke alongside Columbia University President Lee Bollinger about how universities should encourage a cooperative and globalized perspective among their graduates.

“Most of our graduates are going to be operating in a world in which they will have to interrelate with people who are not working in the United States,” Breslauer said. “Our research has to be into global problems and has to focus on collaboration.”

Among other measures, Breslauer said, the campus is focusing on opening more offices abroad and establishing partnerships with foreign universities and research institutions in order to more closely follow Columbia’s “outpost” model.

The model focuses on creating “regional hubs” — areas where the campus operates offices and maintains internships with local companies and research institutions, according to Raka Ray, the UC Berkeley sociology professor and department chair who introduced the debate.

Comparable study abroad models include Harvard University’s executive courses model, which invites international scholars to come to the campus for a session, and New York University’s campus abroad model, which brings students to satellite campuses of the main university.

Bollinger criticized NYU’s model in particular, citing the problem of quality control and expense.

“Universities are extremely good at losing money,” he said. “We know how to think about the public good and how to lose money while we’re at it.”

Among the advantages of the outpost model, Breslauer said, is that it reduces costs and directly accesses the information and talent emerging as foreign institutions rise in prestige.

“It’s not just Oxford,” he said. “Now we’re talking about Chinese universities, Singaporean universities and European universities.”
Breslauer said UC Berkeley’s commitment to working with other nations has been long-standing, with more than 50 percent of the campus’s faculty having studied abroad or worked with international scholars.

In addition to introducing the outpost model, the campus intends to globalize through online education.

“We are experimenting vigorously in the online education realm,” Breslauer said, noting that “we are dealing with this gingerly, realizing it can be a costly failure and can be an embarrassment if done poorly.”

Contact Savannah Luschei at [email protected] .

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Columbia University President Lee Bollinger is a UC Berkeley alumnus. In fact, he is not.