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Letter From the Director

A Strategy for Princeton

In fall 2007, President Shirley Tilghman and Provost Christopher Eisgruber elucidated Princeton University’s strategy for international in “Princeton in the World,” a detailed response to a faculty advisory committee report. They endorsed the committee’s recommendation to avoid building satellite campuses abroad and instead to transform Princeton into “a center for a multitude of scholarly networks.” A nimble constellation of adaptable partnerships with both individuals and institutions of excellence abroad has subsequently enabled Princeton to team up with a global talent pool, and to respond swiftly to an ever-changing world. Crucially, the flows and exchanges are multiway.

Energetic implementation of Princeton’s network strategy has followed the Tilghman-Eisgruber memorandum, which backed concerted efforts to lower the barriers for international students and scholars to enrich Princeton and for Princeton students to go abroad. The Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS), formed in 2003, serves as a venture capital mechanism to introduce new educational opportunities and fund research initiatives that come forward from faculty and that would not otherwise find support because they cross multiple departments and regions. The creation in 2008 of an Office of International Programs (OIP) in the college further strengthened student programing.

Princeton now offers multiple options to suit differing student schedules. These include study abroad for a year or semester at a foreign university; an intensive summer course taught abroad by a Princeton faculty member (a Global Seminar); or a course on the Princeton campus that includes travel abroad during the fall or spring break (an Exploration Seminar). Students can also take advantage of exponentially increased internship opportunities in ever more foreign locations, and they can have a life-changing international experience even before arriving on campus, thanks to the Novogratz Bridge Year program. The landscape has been transformed.

With the dedication of the magnificent Louis A. Simpson International Building housing PIIRS, OIP and the Davis International Center, the University fulfilled another promise of the Tilghman-Eisgruber call-to-arms: the “creation of a physical and symbolic hub for international and regional studies in the heart of campus.” Additional investments established the Paul and Marcia Wythes Center on Contemporary China to produce the next generation of scholars, and the M.S. Chadha Center for Global India to explore the complex, symbiotic relationship between India and the world.

Even success generates its own challenges. Under Provost Deborah Prentice, we have held intensive discussions about driving our entrepreneurial approach to the next level, while enhancing cross-campus sharing of lessons and best practices. Princeton will retain its bottom-up, faculty-driven decentralization in launching initiatives in international, but we are moving toward efficiencies with the centralization of certain kinds of critical services. PIIRS is also in discussions with the new senior associate dean at OIP, Rebecca Graves-Bayazitoglu, to augment students’ ability to navigate and interrelate the now astonishing wealth of international programming.

“Princeton must build the same reputation globally that it enjoys nationally,” the 2007 faculty advisory committee affirmed. In that light, this fourth edition of Princeton International showcases once more the remarkable range of activities in which our students and professors are engaged globally.

Stephen Kotkin

Director, PIIRS