Since this past January, students and faculty in a wide variety of academic departments and programs have been benefiting from the recently created Center for Global and Regional Studies (CGRS). According to its website, the CGRS aims “to promote programs and experiences that connect the education students receive on the Carleton campus with communities beyond campus—locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.” So far, it incorporates eighteen departments and programs, all of which include a focus on language or area studies. While some of these departments are also connected to the Language Center, others—such as American studies—are not.
Scott Carpenter, French professor and director of the CGRS, said that the center is a “centralizing force for all of these language and culture and area studies programs that we have on campus—everything from archaeology to international relations to Russian to medieval and Renaissance studies—all of these programs that have connections to global problems and global issues.” Carpenter emphasized that the CGRS is inclusive, not exclusive, calling it “a coalition of the willing.”
The CGRS originally came about after Carleton received a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for use in the 2010-2011 academic year for a project called the Global Engagement Initiative.
“We played around with a number of things” during this grant, said Carpenter. “We ran a couple of faculty workshops. We were looking into ways of enhancing some things on campus, like Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum—ways of trying to infiltrate reflection on globally inflected things in various parts of the curriculum. So there seemed to be a lot of interest in it.”
After using that grant to investigate the possibility of a CGRS, the college received a second implementation grant of $800,000 to put the Global Engagement Initiative into action. This grant ran from Jan. 1, 2014 to Mar. 31, 2018.
“We really covered a lot of territory,” said Carpenter. “And we had massive participation on the part of faculty. And also, interestingly, it encouraged us to reach across some of the curricular and co-curricular boundaries that we have on campus,” such as OCS, the CCCE and the Career Center.
Director of Off-Campus Studies Helena Kaufman said that the grant allowed previously separate offices to collaborate more effectively. “It was a very productive time. We connected with departments, the curriculum, we connected with the Career Center, we connected with the Language Center, with fellowships, with the international students. We were able to actually coordinate things and think about these bigger initiatives that involve more than just one place on campus. The Center for Global and Regional Studies kind of grew out of that collaboration,” Kaufman said.
Moving forward, the CGRS is now funded entirely by Carleton, according to Dean of the College Beverly Nagel. Nagel described Carleton as “conservative” in deciding to establish new centers and departments, often choosing a less formal route for new ideas and initiatives (such as the Quantitative Inquiry, Reasoning and Knowledge initiative).
“Mostly what [the CGRS being funded by Carleton] has meant has been bringing together resources we already had, and putting them into a place where we can coordinate the kinds of things we’re doing with those resources,” said Nagel. “And along with the coordination, serve to promote and facilitate. So, for example, every year I can support a number of team-teaching opportunities for faculty, and most years, I don’t get as many applications for team-teaching opportunities as I have resources to support. So that’s the sort of thing where the Center can help bring together faculty and facilitate conversations that would lead to new team-taught courses.”
Carpenter also said that Carleton is “among the first” liberal arts colleges to create such a center, but that it differs in its approach from some of its peer institutions.
According to Carpenter, “Sometimes [in other schools] it’s a big operation, under the leadership of a dean, and it means that they’ve actually taken existing offices and pulled them together under one roof. That’s not really the model that we’re going for; Carleton tends to be kind of a decentralized place. But we’re trying to operate in these interstices and become the connective tissue among all these various offices,” said Carpenter.
Nagel said that the CGRS brings Carleton in line with current trends in area studies.
“We’ve had different area studies programs for decades, for example, going back to the ‘60s, maybe even earlier than that,” Nagel said. “But the area studies and disciplines that deal with global issues, like international relations and anthropology and the like, came up in an academic environment where each entity was pretty much an entity unto itself. And that isn’t how the world works.”
One important part of CGRS programming so far is the Global Commons, a group of department heads including OCS, the Career Center, the Office of Intercultural and International Life, the Fellowships Office, the Language Center and the CCCE. The Global Commons meets and discusses global engagement. According to Kaufman, the Global Commons has the potential for growth. “What would be interesting to Off-Campus Studies is if the Global Commons group, which is kind of informal at this point, continues to work together and plan initiatives together,” Kaufman said.
With initiatives like the Global Commons, Kaufman emphasized how the CGRS will further connect OCS to other campus offices. “At other schools, off-campus study can be a very self-contained office. So there are places where Off-Campus Studies has its own registrar or its own budget person. But we don’t have that,” said Kaufman. “And I think this kind of inter-relational model works very well. But I don’t think that there was a place for global engagement that brought everybody together. So I think that’s different, that it’s specifically the interest that people have in the global that brings them together and makes them work together.”
While most of the funding for faculty-focused programming came from the Mellon grants, student-focused programming has been funded thus far by the Dean of the College’s office. According to Carpenter, the programs the CGRS currently runs for students include internship programs abroad (currently in Berlin and Paris) and new junior fellowships of $5000 each, intended for students to deepen a globally-focused project, especially if they were introduced to it while abroad and if it will feed into their Comps. These internships and fellowships are currently the main ways that students come into contact with the Center, said Carpenter, but he hopes to increase student participation in the near future. “We’re hoping that for example the junior fellowship participants might agree to serve on a student advisory board for the center,” he said. For now, Carpenter said that the Center hopes to expand its student resources and programming.