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SDSU President shares views on globalization

Indeed, the world has shrunk. Just ask San Diego State University President  Elliot Hirshman.
Hirshman recently spent just short of five days traveling to China and back to collaborate with academic partners  there and to hear what other university presidents are doing to meet the challenges of rapid global and technological change.
“The breathtaking pace of such a trip is a testament to the extraordinary changes that the jet airplane and its associated globalization have produced,” he blogged shortly after returning from his whirlwind tour.
It was the second trip to China for Hirshman, who only stepped in to his role as university president last August but has already taken on the challenges of “internationalizing” SDSU.
In a brief but wide-ranging interview before the recent trip, Hirshman spoke about the changes already instituted at SDSU and how important it is to understand globalization.
Partnerships and collaborators are important to match the “enormous mobility of students. We want them to be engaged in mobility and interact with students from many different countries,” he said.
Hirshman said the impetus for increased outreach came with the establishment of the Confucius Institute under the leadership of Dr. Lilly Cheng, who has developed a broad range of ties with China and was largely responsible for organizing the most recent trip, in which Hirshman met with many senior education officials  in China. In his blog he noted: “From our award-winning Confucius Institute, which provides opportunities for our campus and community to learn about Chinese culture and language, to our partnerships with Chinese universities and our American Language Institute, where many Chinese students study English, we are prepared to engage the dramatic developments occurring in China.”
Trips like that are valuable in comparing how students are engaged. Hirshman marveled at the “multiplicity” of activities Chinese students engage in. “Their students are involved in the arts, sports. Building our relationships and using the knowledge we gain” affords “insights with others into other cultures,” he added.
Hirshman said to compete in today’s business world, students must graduate with an understanding of how other cultures conduct business. “In America, we are often monolingual,” unlike many other countries where speaking two or more languages is typical.  SDSU is broadening its range of programs, focusing more on language training, as well as integrating science and technology into a broad range of areas, such as national science, arts and humanities, to match employer needs.
“Employers are saying ‘These are areas where we feel we would like to hire,’” he added. “There’s a reason to build those areas, he said. “Much of the cutting edge science and the way we are making progress is through research and scientific advancements.”
Regarding the trip, Hirshman noted that “this engagement will provide extraordinary resources and academic opportunities for our students, faculty and staff, as well as a forum for pursuing the multinational collaborations that are crucial to ensure economic development, environmental sustainability and international security in our shared future.”

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