A new multinational coalition of universities, including Yale and nine other schools from around the world, has begun work on several collaborative ventures after holding its inaugural meeting in Singapore.
Presidents and delegates from the universities attended the meeting Saturday, where they elected Ian Chubb, president and vice chancellor of the Australian National University, as the first president of the International Association of Research Universities. The meeting, Chubb said, was largely a brainstorming and planning session. The group outlined strategies for developing projects examining human migration patterns, human longevity and health, energy, the environment, sustainability and security.
Yale President Richard Levin said he believes the IARU can bring to Yale new research methods that have worked well at other universities.
“We are very hopeful that through this alliance we will be able to accomplish some important objectives in terms of collaborating on international research projects and in terms of exchanging best practices across universities,” Levin said.
During the coming year, the IARU will focus mostly on developing research projects, Chubb said. The association is collaborating on three or four major papers, he said, which will later be developed into research initiatives.
The goal of the IARU is to increase communication between universities, to improve research collaboration and to “share best practices and ways we can learn from one another,” said Yale Secretary Linda Lorimer, who represented the University at the conference. The association will also likely create more joint initiatives between universities, she said.
Several other university administrators also said collaboration is a high priority.
“We’re all operating in a global environment,” Bill Macmillan, pro-vice chancellor for planning and resources at Oxford University, said. “Universities need to work increasingly with each other.”
Yale, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, is leading a task force examining the role of female academics in the home countries of the 10 IARU universities, Lorimer said. The Yale Women Faculty Forum put the original proposal together, she said.
In addition to Yale, the ANU, Oxford and Cambridge, member universities include ETH Zurich, National University of Singapore, Peking University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Copenhagen and the University of Tokyo. The meeting in Singapore follows a preliminary planning session in New York led by Lorimer, Yale Deputy Provost Charles Long and professor Ian Shapiro last summer.
The universities involved in the association — which was created out of discussions between Chubb and NUS President Shih Choon Fong — were selected because of their reputations as important centers of research, as well as their variety of strengths, Chubb said.
“All of us are up there among the best in the world,” he said.
Due to the differences in teaching styles from country to country, Macmillan said, the level of interaction between universities will vary from institution to institution.
“We don’t intend that every university will be involved in every initiative,” he said.
Associate University Secretary Donald Filer said the small size of the IARU attracted Yale, even though the University already belongs to several other organizations of universities, including the 62-member American Association of Universities.
“[The IARU] is appealing to us because it is a small group that doesn’t have a single focused agenda,” Filer said.
But Yale’s membership in the IARU should not limit its participation in other associations, Lorimer said.
Chubb said the IARU committee will reconvene in a year with the results of their research to create more tangible programs.