Globalization center promises bright future

Although a fledgling newcomer to the Yale community, the Center for the Study of Globalization has experienced a high-profile year. From the drama surrounding the center’s directorship to the publication of a faculty-authored book on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the institute has achieved visibility in the academic world, even as it struggles to find its mission.

An initiative launched in November 2000 by Yale President Richard Levin as part of a plan to “globalize” Yale in its fourth century, the globalization center represented an ideal approach to expanding the University’s prominence in the international arena. With Strobe Talbott ’68, the deputy secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73, chosen to lead the institute, the globalization center was founded with a cross-cutting dimension between the policy world and the academic world. Provided with essentially a carte blanche to fashion the center as he saw fit, Talbott has established the center as a multifaceted element of the University that would promote understanding of international trends, said Haynie Wheeler, associate director of the center.

“We make possible multiple ways to inspire critical inquiry on the subject of globalization such as faculty work groups, undergraduate policy lunches, publications, faculty research projects, global internships for students, helping to organize interdisciplinary courses through regular departmental channels, and the online magazine, among many others,” Wheeler said.

This January, however, Talbott announced that he would be leaving the post to head the Brookings Institution, a prestigious Washington D.C. think tank, depriving the center of a dynamic founding figure. Professors said Talbott’s departure stirred discomfort and frustration within the Yale community, leaving many to wonder if the infant center would regain the innovative leadership necessary to establish a solid foundation.

Then, in early April, skepticism regarding the center’s future faded when Levin announced that former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81 would become the new director of the center. Zedillo, a political giant with an extensive background in economics and a keen awareness of international affairs, was seen as a brilliant choice for the role, and his selection restored faith in the center’s potential, professors said.

“Ernesto Zedillo has an extraordinary opportunity — and superb qualifications — to realize the immense potential of the globalization center,” History Department chairman Jon Butler said. “And Yale will be long in his debt if his leadership succeeds.”

With Zedillo’s appointment, the globalization center will fall under the Yale Center for International and Area Studies family but will retain its own budget and autonomy.

The globalization center projected the fruits of its efforts already this year through the publication of a hardcover book co-authored by several Yale professors, including history professors John Gaddis and Paul Kennedy and Yale Law School professor Harold Koh. Talbott and Nayan Chanda, the center’s publications director, edited the book, titled “The Age of Terror: America and the World After Sept. 11,” which is now available in American, British and German editions.

In addition, the globalization center has sponsored lectures and programs this year for students and faculty and has worked with undergraduates and graduate students in their internship searches.

Next year, the center’s efforts toward promoting awareness of international affairs will continue to grow. Deborah Davis, the center’s academic director, will unveil an introductory globalization course this fall that will be offered by the Anthropology, Economics and Sociology Departments. In addition, the center hopes to increase its exposure through through the release of “Yale Global,” an online journal that will debut this fall.

YCIAS director Gustav Ranis said he hopes that whatever path the globalization center takes, it will leave an imprint on the world community.

“I believe the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, by meaningfully connecting academia with the world of affairs, will substantially raise Yale’s overall visibility and its standing as a truly international university,” Ranis said.

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