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Northwestern releases new report on global strategy

Nine recommendations compiled during 18 months of work by Global Strategy Task Force

EVANSTON - Northwestern University’s Global Strategy Task Force released its final report on Friday, including nine recommendations for implementing the University’s vision to enhance global engagement, operations and scholarship.

As a first step for the Northwestern community to learn about opportunities to participate in shaping implementation of the plan, the task force will host two town hall receptions next week on the Evanston and Chicago campuses.

Convened in May 2015 by Provost Daniel Linzer, the 12-member task force worked for 18 months and engaged nearly 500 faculty, students, staff and alumni from around the University as well as many others from peer institutions.

The report identified six interdisciplinary themes of global relevance — ranging from cities and migration, networks and storytelling, and exploring difference, to finite Earth, art and cultural fluidity, and human conflict and violence. It called for University stakeholders to study and refine these themes to help shape Northwestern’s global strategy and future action.

In addition, the task force recommended that the University develop a framework for establishing up to three Northwestern global sites in order to drive progress on Northwestern’s intellectual agenda and help create a stronger, more visible presence outside the United States.

The report also recommended that the University create an integrated Northwestern global structure to manage the execution of the strategy and to improve coordination and effectiveness of existing and future global initiatives across the University.

“I’m delighted to share this innovative report, and I encourage our faculty, students and staff to review it and join the conversation about implementing its findings,” said Linzer in announcing the release of the report and its recommendations.

“I am excited by the report’s emphasis on an ambitious intellectual agenda,” he observed. “We look forward to continued engagement by Northwestern’s leaders with the work of the task force and its focus on excellence. Together we can strengthen Northwestern’s connections to the global community and enhance the University’s impact and scholarship in the world.”

Co-chaired by Kellogg School of Management Dean Sally Blount and Executive Vice President Nim Chinniah, the task force was charged with articulating a global mission statement and identifying high-level goals to guide the University in planning and decision-making around global operations over the next decade.

In an increasingly global society, the group explored new international opportunities and pathways available to Northwestern as well as the many global partnerships, research and academic initiatives, and teaching investments already underway across the University.

To guide its work, the task force articulated a Global Vision for 2020: “To establish Northwestern as one of the world’s premier universities. To develop a culture and an infrastructure that link our intellectual communities to larger international idea and innovation networks and enable our faculty, students and staff to lead and to learn from global advancements in research and teaching critical to human development and understanding.”

To enact that vision, the task force emphasized it would be guided by a focused intellectual agenda, not an economic one; by the principle of excellence; and by a goal of expanding its horizons outward in the world, while also equally integrating global perspectives into the “rich intellectual life of its campuses.”

View the full report.


Among the recommendations of the task force are that Northwestern:

  • Pursue interdisciplinary global themes to help focus scholarship and investments
  • Develop a framework for establishing up to three new Northwestern global sites
  • Create a more integrated, coordinated and effective Northwestern global structure
  • Support language study and training
  • Build Northwestern’s global reputation

The report recommends that next year the provost appoint six faculty groups — each of them to help explore one of the six international themes identified by the task force — in order to examine those scholarly categories as to their viability for significant future investment. The task force also recommended that, under the direction of the president and the provost, other administrative teams would conduct an examination of Northwestern’s current and future global sites.

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