A Letter From the Provost

This issue of Princeton International celebrates a bold, innovative collection of scholarly projects and initiatives that Princeton faculty and students have undertaken this past year. It also marks a new stage in Princeton’s transformation into a truly global university, one in which teaching and research know no geographical bounds. Princeton has always been an international university, with world-class programs in regional and international studies and faculty and students drawn from around the globe. What has changed over the past decade is that the international now infuses everything we do. Major university initiatives are pursued on an international stage; international experiences enrich courses across the curriculum; and faculty and students from all academic specialties find valuable research collaborations and teaching and learning opportunities in other countries.

Consider, for example, Princeton’s renewed commitment to make service central to an undergraduate education. Our new initiative in service and civic engagement aims to involve an increasing number of Princeton students in coordinated curricular and co-curricular activities around service. A model of what we hope to achieve with this initiative is provided by the Bridge Year Program, one of Princeton’s signature international offerings. We are now working to augment Bridge Year with additional programs that will give students an immersive experience of serving in a culture very different from their own. Whether that culture is within the boundaries of the United States or beyond them, we anticipate that the experience of service will open students up to the world and encourage them to explore it more broadly.

An impressive array of courses now feature international experience as a central component of their pedagogy. These courses span the entire curriculum and incorporate international experience in a variety of ways. At one extreme along an immersion continuum are the PIIRS Global Seminars, in which students learn about an area of the world while living in that region. This has proven to be a fantastically successful model, and we are delighted that PIIRS plans to add another seminar to the roster next year. Somewhat less immersive but nonetheless highly impactful are those courses that offer one- to two-week trips abroad, either during the midterm break week or reading period. The purposes of the trips vary, depending on the content of the course: Some visit a museum, archive, archaeological dig or building site; others explore an ecosystem; and still others visit a research facility. When a trip is not possible, faculty use digital technology to enable students to experience distant locales without leaving campus and to engage with colleagues, mentors and teachers abroad. You will see examples of all of these pedagogies in this issue.

Finally, Princeton researchers are pursuing their investigations in venues around the globe. Whether they are studying robotics, English literature, the ecology of fisheries, or the origins of the universe, faculty and students are finding their work enriched and, in some cases, transformed by global perspectives. We are all international scholars now, and Princeton’s teaching and research mission is more vital and vibrant as a result.


Deborah A. Prentice