New collaboration will benefit research

Already a member of the Ancient Eight, Yale is taking steps this fall to join another select confederation of universities, this one spanning the globe.

Ongoing discussions between a new alliance of 10 universities, first announced in mid-July and set to be officially launched in January, may bring visiting faculty, academic resources and students from across the world to Yale. The partnership, tentatively named the International Association of Research Universities, will facilitate an exchange between universities to address global issues, said Ian Chubb, president and vice chancellor of the Australian National University and interim chairman of the partnership. But he said most of the specific areas of research, as well as the details of the arrangement, are still under development.

Besides Yale, the group — which spans four continents — includes the University of Oxford, the Australian National University, National University of Singapore, Peking University, the University of Tokyo and the University of Copenhagen.

Though the alliance will emphasize collaborative research, it will also help improve each university on an individual level, University Secretary Linda Lorimer said.

“We might very efficiently learn how those nine other universities are pursuing such things as research centers outside their own country or new forms of student exchanges overseas,” she said.

Bill Macmillan, pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources at Oxford, said partnerships are common among universities, but he expressed his hope that this new alliance would go beyond superficial contact.

“There is a lot of this sort of thing going on and a lot of it is at the level of diplomatic courtesy,” he said. “It’s our hope that we can have a real working relationship.”

Senior officials at member universities said they have not made any final decisions regarding the specific projects the partnership will undertake, but Chubb said one proposed project is the study of ethnic migration across international borders. Macmillan said other research could explore issues of emergent diseases, world education and environmental problems.

The partnership will go beyond a research focus and the member schools hope to benefit both students and faculty by instituting collaborative teaching efforts among other programs, Macmillan said.

Though Lorimer said Yale President Richard Levin participated in initial discussions about the alliance, the original idea for the partnership resulted from meetings between Chubb and his colleague Shih Choon Fong, president of NUS. Shih wrote in an e-mail that ANU and NUS had already collaborated on several joint degree programs, but wanted to extend the relationship to other schools.

Chubb said Yale was considered because of its international focus.

“Yale has a very sophisticated approach to international relations,” he said. “I and my colleague in Singapore had read a number of works that the Yale president had put out. We thought they were perceptive and were consistent with the attitude we have.”

Plans to begin individual collaboration between Yale and NUS have already begun, Shih said. He said there will be a summer exchange program starting in 2006 between the two universities, a Yale-at-NUS and an NUS-at-Yale program, each with 20 students.

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