In an effort to expand Northwestern’s reach across international borders, University President Morton Schapiro has expressed interest in starting programs in India.
Following NU trustees’ decision to extend his contract until 2019, Schapiro told The Daily that his plans for the next decade include overseas expansion in addition to several housing and facilities projects on the Evanston campus.
“We’re thinking boldly about Chicago institutions but also the world,” he said.
NU currently has many international partnerships, including study abroad programs in about 50 countries and a permanent campus in Doha, Qatar. Schapiro said an additional program in India would benefit studies in communication, theatre, media and journalism.
“The proximity to (NU’s) Qatar (campus) is something we can really take advantage of,” Schapiro added.
NU’s other overseas destinations include China, where a recently created fellowship program opened the country to students studying clean energy. The president has shared his fondness for China, which he has visited on University businesses, but he said an actual NU campus there may not be feasible because of the prevalence of education opportunities already in the country.
“I want China, but it seems saturated with American universities,” he said.
Last Spring Quarter, NU got involved with the Wanxiang Fellows Program, which sends students to China to study green technology and environmental sustainability. The program is a part of President Barack Obama’s “100,000 Strong” initiative to send 100,000 American students to study in China.
African and Asian Languages Prof. Licheng Gu has been taking student groups to Peking University for the past 11 summers.
Gu said he understands why the University would choose to foster a fellowship program rather than establish a new campus because of the unique opportunities students have while immersed in foreign cultures.
“I applaud President Schapiro’s decision not to have a campus in China right now,” Gu said. “The students should be trying to get to know the locals, studying in their universities. That is much better than having our own campus with our own students only. It’s great that we can integrate and get to know the locals in the hosting university.”
He said believes the same model can be applied to other fellowship programs such as in India. Gu added although he believes any program abroad would be beneficial to students, he appreciates the idea of a physical NU presence in India.
“India is another great civilization with rich culture, long history, and economically and environmentally; it has a great potential for our students to learn more,” he said. “To see what is needed over there, what we can do to help, it would be very significant for our students.”
In an email to The Daily, University Provost Dan Linzer said although there are always new ideas emerging about increased opportunities for NU abroad, they don’t always come to fruition. He added there are no concrete plans in place for an India program.
“We frequently explore opportunities about global activities, including in India, but that does not mean that any of these ideas would be likely to result in a new overseas campus,” he wrote.
Schapiro said he is still in the process of visiting the country and determining options for a presence there.
“I’m excited about doing something in India,” he said.