The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Institute slowly taking shape

By Matthew Stone

Three high-profile figures have addressed the campus in its name and the Community Service Office has moved under its banner, taking the name Civic Engagement Center. A program is on tap for a second semester of study abroad this spring in Maastricht, Netherlands and next month’s International Roundtable will fall under its auspices.

But the Institute for Global Citizenship remains an enigma to many on campus.

“It’s hard for me to analyze the Institute because I’m still not sure what it is,” said Molly Bowen ’07, one of two students who sat on the committee that drafted the Institute’s proposal.

The proposal, completed last September, includes long-term plans for a building to house the Institute’s administrative functions and preliminary outlines for initiatives to more tightly connect academics and civic engagement.

The college’s current fundraising push has netted $3 million for the new program.

“Part of the Institute is still evolving,” said Karin Trail-Johnson, one of the Institute’s two Associate Deans. “That’s partly why it’s kind of confusing to some people.”

Political Science Professor Andrew Latham is the other Associate Dean. Ahmed Samatar has assumed the post of Dean of the Institute.

“It’s so amorphous right now,” said Carly Martin ’07, who attended Toni Morrison’s address earlier this month and received a flyer on the Institute. “I don’t see any visible signs of the Institute other than the little white brochure with the globe on it.”

Saad Anjum ’10 has heard word of the Institute being batted around, but, like Martin, said he had little knowledge of the initiative.

“There has to be something we see about it,” he said.

Trail-Johnson, also the director of the Civic Engagement Center, said the Institute will bring together departments that have not collaborated in the past. For example, the Civic Engagement Center has moved toward more collaboration with academic departments over the last few years.

Trail-Johnson, in an interview on Tuesday, talked of plans for a “Research Hub” that faculty members can utilize to incorporate off-campus elements into their courses. Another Institute program scheduled to launch next summer, sponsored by the Lilly Foundation, will fund paid summer internships united by a common “theme of social concern” for up to ten students, the program description says.

Five years from now, Trail-Johnson said she hopes the Institute “has broad campus ownership.

“It shouldn’t be a set program that’s off to the side,” she said. “I guess I can’t specify it will be doing this, this, and this.”

Three Committees to Guide Programming
Administrators are assembling three committees-a steering committee, a Student Planning Committee, and a Global Advisory Board-to spearhead programming for the Institute.

Institute administrators are currently considering a slate of candidates to serve on the Global Advisory Board, hoping to recruit 15 to 20 members by the end of the spring, Trail-Johnson said.

“We’re looking at people who have some connection to the college,” she said.

Political balance is another objective.

An internal memo obtained by The Mac Weekly in May showed a list of 42 potential candidates. Their connections to Macalester were not all apparent.

Six entries do not name specific people. Instead, the memo lists “Alumna/alumnus (preferably Asian-American)” and “Local Native American?” for two of those entries.

Other candidate suggestions include high-profile names. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan ’61, former President Jimmy Carter, Senator Barak Obama (D-Ill.), Sudanese native and former UN Special Representative Frances Deng, and former World Health Organization Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland are all among the mix.

Conservative Harvard scholar Harvey C. Mansfield, who most recently wrote the book “Manliness,” and Nobel Prize-winning Columbia economist Joseph Stiglitz are some of the academics listed in the memo.

The college has not yet extended any invitations to serve, Trail-Johnson said.

“I guess we don’t know until we ask,” Trail-Johnson said when asked if administrators thought it realistic to expect that the high-profile candidates would accept an invitation.

The Global Advisory Board will likely not assume the form of a conventional committee.

“It’s probably unlikely that they can meet together,” Trail-Johnson said.

Members would visit campus as speakers. The college would also ask them to accept students as interns.

Student leaders met this week with Trail-Johnson to organize a Student Planning Committee, which is expected to meet for the first time next month.

Members will include representatives from student government, cultural organizations, The Mac Weekly, and others.

A steering committee of mostly top administrators has met twice so far this fall. That committee will ultimately include representatives from the Student Planning Committee and Global Advisory Board.

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