Compete Internationally


When James Huff Stout established the school in 1891, powerful forces were reshaping world markets.

Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen is surrounded by a few of his favorite books on globalization, including Thomas L. Friedman’s The World is Flat and Clyde Prestowitz’s Three Billion New Capitalists.
The telegraph, the telephone and the railroad united the country while the steam engine drew Europe and Asia closer to our mainland. Wheat, cotton and rice became world commodities, forcing new competition on American farmers. Social, political and economic change became the norm, challenging long-accepted values, and forcing leaders to recognize the need to adapt to new circumstances and challenges. Recognizing the need for a better educated workforce in this changing world, Stout established an institution to prepare men and women for the new century and the complexities driven by new, seemingly invisible, international influences. We face similar challenges today, only on a massive scale.

Two recent publications – Thomas L. Friedman’s The World is Flat and Clyde Prestowitz’s Three Billion New Capitalists – provide a clear, crisp analysis of 21st-century globalization. Both agree that the Internet explosion has negated time and distance; we do not hold the monopoly on education, training, or high-tech, high-paying jobs. India and China are the emerging giants, investing billions of dollars in educating a new, intelligent workforce that competes, and competes successfully, with our graduates.

How will higher education meet these challenges, and what impact does this have on UW-Stout? First, we must recognize that our graduates compete not just against others from American universities but with graduates internationally. More and more of our students work for multinational corporations, travel widely, and interact with professionals from other cultures, and must adapt to new cultural patterns. We must continue to internationalize our curriculum in recognition of the factors affecting the professional fields we offer. We have infused our general education requisites with a global requirement. We must continue to monitor the effectiveness of this obligation and strengthen it when necessary.

Second, we must encourage and support more students to travel abroad to experience different cultures and develop a comfort level for dealing with diversity. Likewise, we need to increase the number of exchange students attending UW-Stout since it so enriches our campus culture. Within the past year, we have appointed Claudia Smith our full-time director for the Office of International Education. The office has completed its first strategic plan with the specific goal of increasing our flow of students to and from campus. We must encourage and support faculty travel and study abroad as well. Finally, as a campus, we have to study and understand the global forces creating this world village. We cannot prevent these forces, we cannot stop them. One scholar simply states that we must “catch the tide” of this global surge and use it to benefit American society.

Outlook Winter 2006 v3