New UMass Provost at CIE Tuesday Dialogue

Provost Katherine Newman spoke to the CIE community and engaged CIE members in a discussion about issues arising from their interests and their research.  Provost Newman brings many years of academic experience as well as both a Provost Katherine Newmanstrong interest in international education and considerable experience overseas.  Among her many publications is a recent book After Freedom: The Rise of the Post-Apartheid Generation in Democratic South Africa (Beacon Press: 2014) which grew out of a program of international internships that she initiated when she was at Princeton University. 

Provost Newman began by talking about the potential role of education in addressing issues of social justice, the effects of poverty and conflict.  She mentioned the challenges faced by Myanmar in revitalizing its university system.  Her work in South Africa with students who grew up after apartheid provided other examples. Under her leadership UMass has recently been invited to join the Worldwide Universities Network which will provide UMass with a stronger link to international education institutions around the world.

She then engaged the students in an invigorating discussion of issues arising from their various research interests.  Topics that emerged included the role of universities in combating divisions in society that lead to conflict, the impact of the colonial system on present day education institutions in countries like Senegal and South Africa, and the conflict in Northern Nigeria between Christians and Muslims.

A lively interchange ensued about the challenge of mixing indigenous/traditional knowledge with preparation for life and work in modern societies.  The issue of respecting and preserving traditional languages while at the same time recognizing the necessity of competence in an international language brought up examples from Zimbabwe, China and India.  That  dialogue led into discussion of the role of women and the tensions between traditional gender roles in societies like Afghanistan and international standards for women.

Finally, the topic of ethics and protecting informants in research was discussed. The US approach is embedded in the Institutional Review Board process and its associated forms. Students raised questions about the difficulties of doing research in international settings where the US-based forms are not functional.  The provost agreed and stressed that what was important was having a process that was ethical and protected informants, not the form itself which could be replaced by some other process. 


The session closed with Provost Newman encouraging CIE to adhere to its values working where the need was greatest and by admitting students from such countries, recognizing the value of having voices based on direct experience in the classroom and on campus.