The Global Academy of Liberal Arts Sixth Annual Conference

Posted on September 25, 2019

The Global Academy of Liberal Arts Sixth Annual Conference Claremont Graduate University (CGU) Los Angeles, USA Day 1 Partners met to discuss strategy in going forward at the Governance and Strategy Meeting. The group reviewed the strategy document to come to an agreement about our strategy, one that we can share with colleagues and partners, and to put into practice the decisions made to build a stronger and more sustainable network. Students from across the network engaged in workshops on the theme of transdisciplinary studies and networks. In the evening, the President of CGU, Len Jessup, hosted all delegates and students at his home for a celebratory reception. Day 2 Josh Goode, Professor of Cultural Studies and History welcomed GALA to Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and introduced the theme of the conference developed with Andrew Vosco, head of transdisciplinary studies and the aim of the programme to interrogate the idea of networks across time and place. Ian Gadd introduced the network founded in 2014 representing 24 partners in 17 countries. This conference  represents 14 universities in 12 countries including Bath Spa University (UK), UCR (Netherlands), Parma University (Italy), SWPS (Poland), RANEPA (Russia), Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), Witwatersrand (South Africa), University of Namibia (Namibia), CUC (China), University of Adelaide (Australia), CGU, SUNY Geneseo and Columbia College (USA) and Concordia University (Canada). Provosts Panel Josh Goode (CGU) Chaired the provosts panel representing 8 University Leaders including Zerihun Woldu (Addis Ababa University), Patricia Easton (CGU), Anya Luscombe  (UCR), Duan Peng (CUC), Jairos Kangira (University of Namibia), Stacey Robertson (SUNY GENESEO), Ruksana Osman (Witwatersrand) and Ewa Gruszczynska (SWPS) who discussed the value of networks from their perspective. Zerihun Woldu, Director of Research leads research collaboration and is the Ambassador representing GALA at Addis Ababa University who discussed the rapid development of communication technology and the need to prepare students for a new world and ways of networking. Patricia Easton, Provost at CGU, provided history and context of CGU and the value of partnerships at the local and international levels – that smallness is important for intellectual community and intimacy – and bigness for diversity and vibrancy and how a network provides the best of both worlds. Anya Luscombe, Director of Education at UCR, one of two Liberal Arts colleges from Utrecht, discussed the focus on student and faculty exchange priority at the University representing 500 students with 45 faculty to obtain inspiration of different ways of looking at each discipline and different ways of working. Duan Peng, Communications University China, shared the schools and institutes at CUC and the importance of shared vision and the significance of the Gala platform to promote cross cultural understanding in the liberal arts. Committed to international communication, CUC sends out 1000 students to 30 countries for long and short term exchanges so students have a global vision. CUC invited Gala members to the 70th Anniversary of CUC. Jairos Kangira, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Namibia, a 27 year old University with 27,000 students, emphasised the importance of partnership, collaboration, cooperation and internationalisation of education for staff and student mobility, joint research, internationalisation of curriculum and global citizenship. Stacey Robertson, Provost at SUNY Geneseo, one of 64 campuses, the public liberal arts college within the SUNY network representing 55,000 brave, open minded and creative undergraduate students, faculty and staff and our commitment to higher education as a place for public good and a defining theme of Gala, student centred opportunities to enrich interdisciplinary student experience, teaching and research with high impact. Important to remember why we exist, what our common values are and growth for growths sake. Ruksana Osman, DVC from Witwatersrand University, and UNESCO Chair for Diversity and Education, emphasised the importance of networks in promoting inclusion, diversity and social justice. We look for partnership with institutions that share our values and imagination and inclusive value as a global academy. This network provides us with an opportunity to map global futures and African futures. Ewa Gruszczynska from SWPS, the first private university in Poland social sciences and humanities representing 13k students 5 campuses, emphasised the importance of pursuing funding for global research funding with partners from our networks as primary research partners and the transformational experience of staff and student mobility. As a psychologist whose research is focused on stress, she celebrated the network as a response that adopts a tend-and-befriend, rather than fight-or-flight response to an uncertain world. Networks in Theory and Practice Mark Loon (Bath Spa University) explored the business model approach to network in translating the strategy and tactics that go with it, the portfolio of set of value propositions (develop globally and sustainably minded graduates); and the complementarity among value propositions (map a portfolio of activities that can help to attain SDGs) in providing an infrastructure for impact and innovation. Alexey Verbetsky (RANEPA) discussed networks as mechanisms of intellectual capital development, highlighting global trends and challenges and the increasing role of intellectual capital through interaction and networking, providing other examples of networking at RANEPA. Jeanne Holm (CGU) shared her work on creating a connected Los Angeles and how she gained inspiration from gaming and the evolution of technology in our public spaces to explore how researchers, universities and non-profits can develop diverse teams to solve wicked problems (diversity of age, gender, ethnicity, education, socio economic and digital literacy). Universities Connecting the World – 1 Sarah Flavel (Bath Spa University) discussed networks for education on Chinese culture and her work with the International Academy for Chinese Thought and Culture (IACTC), an experiential, interdisciplinary summer school run in China every summer an interdisciplinary and multi-level partnership with Beijing University (Peking), Beijing Foreign Studies University, Fudan University Department of Philosophy, Wuhan University and the Global Academy of Liberal Arts. Brandi L Hall (Bath Spa University) shared her PhD research exploring the narrative of United Kingdom world heritage sites and the value of international partnerships with respect to mission, values, principles and mutuality, effectiveness, accountability and transparency, sustainability and timescales. Universities Connecting the World – 2 Manjeet Ridon (DeMontfort University) explored the value of liberal arts education and academic Networking, sharing experiences and outcomes of The Silk Road cultural exchange project, with the silk road as a ‘modern metaphor for sharing and learning across cultures, art forms and disciplines.’ Ghazala Bhatti (Bath Spa University) and Wiel Veugelers (University for Humanistic Studies) shared experiences in networking with seven Universities for intercultural education, democracy, global citizenship, and pedagogies of hope. Bryan Edward Penprase (Soka University of America) shared theory and taxonomy of networks, alliances and partnerships identifying Gala as a partnership of diversity characterised by synergy of complementary and different capabilities. The principles of ‘Intergroup contact theory’ (Allport, 1954) were explored as factors needed to sustain engagement, including equal status, common goals, intergroup cooperation, support of senior administration, laws and customs and personal interaction. Keynote John Katzman delivered the keynote speech on collaboration and competition in online learning and the way forward with blended learning in the new University landscape. Day 3 The University in the Community Michael Leroy Oberg (SUNY Geneseo) shared practice at the Geneseo Centre for Local and Municipal History devoted to increasing civic engagement, promoting the study of local history in the New York state and fostering cooperation among the history community. Emilie Champagne and Andre Roy (Concordia) shared the vision for Montreal 2050: Engaging cross-disciplinary research to shape the future of the city, the vision and strategy and network building. Marc Leverton and Ekta Mahajan (Bath Spa University). Marc shared his work on experiential learning connecting entrepreneurship students with a local charity and local businesses, building new networks for learning outcomes and greater good. Ekta discussed her work on Creatives for you that will be launched in October. GALA: The past five years, the next five years (Roundtable discussion) Rebecca McGuire-Snieckus (Bath Spa University) led a session to hear from members that have had an active institutional relationship with Gala over the last few years. Each panel member reflected on their experience, picked up on whatever aspects of the GALA strategic plans were most relevant to them, followed by questions and comments from the audience. Joshua Goode (CGU) John Strachan (Bath Spa University) Eric Freedman (Columbia College) Andre Roy (Concordia University) Stacey Robertson (SUNY Geneseo) Tackling the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Andrew Vosco used concept maps to explore sustainability as a mind-set (iterative, part of a larger system, adaptive, dynamic with indicators) versus sustainability as an achievement and the importance of using transdisciplinary research in responding to global challenges at the local level. ’Wicked problem’ – complex problem that affects society. Student voices Claire from SUNY Geneseo shared her interest in physics and how it has shaped the way she sees the world and how she was drawn towards the humanities while on a scientific track. She found many concepts from physics informed her understanding and interpretation of literature and emphasises the value of interdisciplinary to transcend disciplines. Before this conference she saw networking as a self centred approach, using others as a stepping stone to get what you want and now sees networking as collaborating with others, working with others and using your education to work with people from different perspectives and values towards a common goal resulting in a stronger approach and that networking can be used for social justice was very eye opening. Lucas from SUNY Geneseo first identified himself as a pre-medicine track athlete where the humanities were dismissed in favour of the hard sciences. He took an economics class and went abroad resulting in an evolving his interest in global public health education. He emphasized the value of having a catalyst to go outside of transcending one’s discipline. Tom from Bath Spa University is doing a joint PhD between Bath Spa University and CGU where he feels that he can contribute to GALA from a student background. Illustration was his original degree, launching art exhibitions and galleries – sees the conference in this light, expressing his interest in leading William Davis from Bath Spa University does a practical film making course and has to collaborate with others on the course and how beneficial group work is in developing collaboration skills. Having a collaborative and cross disciplinary – sense of community, hwo to work together, greater job prospects, share and learn from one another, a degree is gained through collaborations and an ever growing network CGU – PhD student in liberal arts education within elite universities and rural education in China (human capital goals versus sustainability goals). Many years ago she was taking a class with Josh Goode on transdisciplinary studies, and went on the Gala exchange to Bath Spa University. She is interested in different views on education and networks in Universities. Etka Bath Spa University launching Ed tech start up in two weeks. Gala has opened up many doors for me, met with various students from whom she learned a lot. Excited about what we can learn from one another and achieve together. Conference close Ian Gadd thanked delegates for participating in an extraordinary conference, which was so, because of everyone here who believes in what we are doing. Every year is a renewal and reinvigoration.