Skip Navigation
UCLA Today Interviews Geoffrey Garrett on His Plans for Educating Global CitizensPhoto by Reed Hutchinson UCLA Photographic Services

UCLA Today Interviews Geoffrey Garrett on His Plans for Educating Global Citizens

International Institute head describes his units new teaching role in the university and its cross-border issue-oriented research intiatives.

[The February 10 issue of UCLA Today, the university's information service newspaper, carried a full page interview with Geoffrey Garrett, Vice Provost of the UCLA International Institute and a professor of Political Science on the Institute's progress over the last two years and its plans for the future. The online version of the interview can be seen on the UCLA Today website here: For the information of our readers we are reproducing it below.]

* * *

Educating global citizens

A passport to a better future world

Since coming to UCLA in 2001 to lead what was then the Office of International Studies and Overseas Programs, Geoffrey Garrett has worked to further UCLA’s long-standing eminence in international and area studies.

This outstanding reputation was acknowledged in 2003, when six area studies programs in the UCLA International Institute were designated National Resource Centers by the U.S. Department of Education and received $8.2 million (over three years) in Title VI funding, giving UCLA more of these funds than any other college or university in the country.

Director of the Burkle Center for International Relations and a professor of political science at UCLA, Garrett previously served on the faculties of Yale University, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford and Oxford University. He has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and a National Fellow of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford. He spoke with UCLA Today recently about developments at the International Institute.

Q: How has the International Studies and Overseas Programs — ISOP —evolved into the International Institute you now head?

GARRETT: There are really two principal differences between ISOP and the International Institute. ISOP's primary role was to support organized research in its geographically focused area studies centers. In contrast, the International Institute has a large and growing teaching mission; it is also building a second dimension of intellectual inquiry based on global issues that cut across regional boundaries.

In the late '90s, interdepartmental degree programs were moved out of the academic divisions of the UCLA College and into ISOP. Today the International Institute is home to seven undergraduate and four graduate interdisciplinary degree programs. These programs have about 550 undergraduate majors and about 150 graduate students; these are very large numbers given that the institute has no full-time faculty of its own. Moreover, the number of undergraduate majors in our degree programs has more than doubled in the past few years. We have responded to rising student interest in international issues with innovative educational programs that address these issues head- on, such as our undergraduate degree in international development studies.

In addition to our rapidly expanding teaching mission and our long-standing organized research programs, the International Institute takes its service mission very seriously. We present many public events, including the newly established Burkle Forum, which drew capacity crowds to Royce Hall for presentations by the late Edward Said and Alan Dershowitz during 2003.

Q: Could you tell us more about the new "global dimension" of the Institute’s program?

GARRETT: The strategic planning committee I constituted soon after my arrival at UCLA came to the same conclusion as other universities around the country have. ISOP's traditional strengths in area studies needed to be supplemented by the building of a second dimension of intellectual inquiry.

This second dimension focuses on issues that affect all regions of the world, but that tend to play out differently in different locales, including: democratization, human rights and the expansion of civil society; the power of markets as social institutions, for good and ill; the tensions between increasingly global communications and media and rapid movements of people all around the world, on the one hand, and long-standing cultural practices in societies, often with millennia of unique histories, on the other.

As a result, the International Institute's principal initiatives share the "global" descriptor: the Global Fellows Program, the Global Impact Research grant program and the Global Studies undergraduate degree that I hope will soon be able to admit its first majors. These initiatives are not substitutes for the intensive study of language, culture and history in different regions supported by our area studies centers. Rather, the initiatives tie together the study of common problems, weaving global themes among the area studies pillars of knowledge.

Q: So what is the Global Fellows Program?

GARRETT: Global Fellows is a multigenerational and multidisciplinary program bringing together scholars united by a common interest in cutting across traditional disciplinary boundaries. We are very fortunate to have an eminent group of senior UCLA faculty — all members of the National Academy of Sciences or the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — as Senior Fellows. They help select up-and-coming scholars and then work with them to further their development as academic leaders of the future. The Global Fellows themselves are promising scholars from all around the world within seven years of completing their Ph.D.s. To this mix, we add Associate Fellows drawn from the best UCLA students completing Ph.D. dissertations on international topics. Beginning next year, we will round out the "fellowship" (the old Oxbridge term) by selecting Global Scholars from among the most exciting incoming UCLA Ph.D. students.

The Global Impact Research grant program functions as a mini-internal foundation. It supports UCLA faculty undertaking cutting-edge research that will not only stimulate new teaching in the classroom but also engage and influence national and international policy debates. The breadth and innovation are amazing in the eight projects we have funded thus far. One project, for example, assesses the vulnerability of mass transit systems around the world to terrorism and is generating an inventory of best practices on how to thwart and then respond to attacks. Another is exploring the performing arts in palliative care and education on HIV-AIDS in the developing world. Yet another project analyzes university-government-business linkages in the development of nanotechnology around the world.

Q: What is the International Institute planning that will have an impact on undergraduate students?

GARRETT: We hope to launch next year a new interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program called Global Studies. This program will help students not only understand the complex world they live in, but also give them the ability to contribute to shaping that world as the next generation of leaders. Students will be expected to master the core skills of the major humanities and social sciences departments before moving on to a problem-oriented academic program drawing on the insights of different approaches to the same global issues of governance, culture and society and the role of markets.

We will also offer Global Studies students programs combining classroom and experiential learning in different locations around the world. The first Global Learning Institutes will be launched this summer in Hong Kong and Shanghai, with others planned for 2005 and beyond in other parts of the world. The programs will be run collaboratively with local universities. Our students will be taught by local faculty as well as by our own. Our students will sit in class next to local students and will live with them in dormitories as well. The Global Learning Institutes will also give our students some wonderful internship opportunities — made possible by the generous help of UCLA's many international alumni and friends. For example, the students who attend our Hong Kong program this year will be able to work on political campaigns for the upcoming legislative elections that will be pivotal to the evolution of democracy in Hong Kong and to relations with Beijing.

We hope that when the students return to Westwood they will want to work on individual original research projects stimulated by their experiences abroad, and we plan to support them with a series of senior thesis research seminars and tutorials.

Q: Why are these programs of particular importance at this time in our history?

GARRETT: Before Sept. 11, I think it is fair to say that many Americans regarded the rest of the world as they would a la carte options on the menu. There was a lot of interesting stuff out there, but you could pick and choose if you wanted to consume any of it. In the post-9/11 world, knowing more about the world is no longer optional. We’ve got to increase Americans' knowledge about the rest of the world and to train the next generation of leaders who will shape its future as well as America’s role in it.

We are living in an extremely important and challenging time. The choices world leaders make in the coming years, and (equally important) the reactions to them among people all around the globe, will determine the course of the 21st century. UCLA can’t change the world on its own. But I cannot think of a more important contribution we can make than to educate the global citizens on whose values and actions the future of the planet will depend.

UCLA International Institute