Global Inquiries

The rapid pace of globalization continues to highlight the extraordinary complexity of cultural, social, political, and economic forces shaping peoples, nations, and regions and their relations with one another. One of the definitional strengths of SAS is the range of expertise it brings to the study of global issues: it has a mission to “teach the world” in its historical and contemporary contexts, a charge reflected in the very names of a large portion of its departments, majors, and research centers.  Some programs focus on individual peoples, nations, or regions, including diaspora populations in the United States and elsewhere. Others work in transnational contexts that seek to transcend and question the single nation-state as a unit of analysis. They use as their lens a host of methodological approaches from the humanities and social sciences. They are complemented by the College’s undergraduate degree requirements emphasizing cross-cultural analysis and cultural diversity in the U.S., and by two pioneering joint degree programs with Wharton that combine international and management studies (the undergraduate Huntsman and graduate Lauder programs). The School is recognized for its excellence in teaching a wide array of foreign languages, and its Division of Professional and Liberal Education offers study abroad opportunities and teaches English as a foreign language through its renowned English Language Programs.

These strengths are plentiful, but disparate.  We plan new School-wide global initiatives, including one on India, building on Penn's long tradition of scholarship and teaching on South Asia and our outstanding India-focused centers. We seek in particular to promote new faculty hires, faculty exchanges, and student programs that will expand the work of the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI), its New Delhi affiliate, the University of Pennsylvania Institute for the Advanced Study of India, and the South Asia Studies department and center in promoting research by Penn faculty and students at all levels on and in India. We also plan initiatives on China, with the Center for the Study of Contemporary China adding to our strengths in East Asian studies and the new Penn-Wharton China Center; and on Africa, where our Africana Studies department and our center and program resources are complemented by the University's program in Botswana.  

To support more generally other activities in the global realm, the School will establish a Dean’s Integrative Global Inquiries Fund to support research projects, faculty working groups, seminars, and other activities that stimulate collective investigation of global topics between the humanities and social sciences; across departments, programs, centers, and schools; or across time periods.  On its completion, the Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics will become an important hub for programming in the global realm, as home to two major social science departments; the Browne Center for International Politics; the Center for the Advanced Study of India; the Center for the Study of Contemporary China; the Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism Program; and the Penn Institute for Economic Research.  The College’s emphasis on expanding undergraduate research options will include growth in opportunities for international internships and short-term study-abroad. Given the volume of its global activities, it is also important that the School be an energetic participant in the global strategies of the University, working closely with the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and being highly involved and visible in the activities of the new Perry World House.  SAS will also continue to build on partnerships with Annenberg, Design, Education, Law, Medicine, Wharton, and the University Museum.