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Emory helps establish global university network focused on education, research, leadership and innovation
Headshots of five participating faculty members from around the world.

Five universities have founded a network to work on projects that promote excellence in research and education and extend the partners’ global impact. Representatives include (L-R) Masahiko Gemma of Waseda University; Brad MacKay of the University of St Andrews; Birgit Ulrike Münch of the University of Bonn; Oron Shagrir of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Philip Wainwright of Emory University.

Five universities, including Emory, have signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding that lays the foundation for a new global collaboration network focused on education, research, leadership and innovation.

The partners are Emory University (U.S.), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), the University of Bonn (Germany), the University of St Andrews (U.K.) and Waseda University (Japan).

Through this network, the five internationally renowned universities aim to facilitate academic collaboration, cluster expert knowledge and learn from each other through best practices. The partners share a common approach to internationalization and will cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally on a range of projects designed to promote excellence in research and education and extend the partners’ global impact.

“Scholars and researchers from several of the member institutions have already received support for their collaborative work through existing bilateral relationships,” says Philip Wainwright, Emory’s vice provost for global strategy and initiatives. “The newly formed network presents an exciting opportunity to engage in multilateral cooperation, broadening their collaborative efforts even further.”

The network seeks to enhance and add value to each member’s institutional strategy for global engagement, building on strong preexisting ties between many of the founding members.

“This is a small, but the most effective, network for Waseda University based on long-term collaboration and trust with other partners,” says Masahiko Gemma, vice president for international affairs at Waseda University.

Enhancing members’ global reach and connectivity is another key goal of the network. Academic connections between network members, including through digital collaboration, can deepen understanding of higher education contexts around the world and allow for the sharing of best practices.

“Mobility of staff and students between institutions is important for institutional internationalization, and enables opportunities for building academic and cultural bridges, improving language and intercultural communication skills and mutual understanding,” says Oron Shagrir, vice president for international affairs at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Three multilateral pilot projects have already been developed, with dedicated working groups formed among the project staff at each partner institution.

The University of St Andrews is joined by partners in developing a postgraduate network, including an online symposium on “Modes of International PhD Education” that was held in 2022.

“Developing connections across institutions through which we can understand the various ways we each conduct operations for postgraduate students provides a meaningful opportunity to learn from different higher education settings and contexts, and connecting students will foster new links and deepen our partnerships in research,” says Brad MacKay, deputy principal and vice principal (international strategy and external relations) at the University of St Andrews.

Another multilateral project, led by the University of Bonn, focuses on social responsibility. After sharing respective approaches to sustainability among partners, an online student workshop on best practices in student engagement for sustainability will be held later this year.

“Sharing best practices to learn from each other is a major advantage of this multilateral network. We are glad to have the opportunity to connect our sustainability initiatives with those of our network partners,” says Birgit Ulrike Münch, vice rector for international affairs at the University of Bonn. “I can hardly think of an area with more global relevance, which is why approaching sustainability in this global environment is key for us.”

The network’s third pilot project aims to raise an established funding program, the Collaborative Research Grant, to a multilateral level by helping fund joint projects by researchers from three or more network partner institutions.

The idea for the global network grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, which itself demonstrated the need for international scientific collaboration. While the network has been very active online, the partners are now planning the first face-to-face meeting in spring 2024 to deepen the network and potentially extend it to additional universities.

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