Photo of Professor Williams with students Adam Moore, Swetha Polavarapu, Alexa Cabral, Kevin Gilmore, Timothy Swanton, and Brian Silva-Boutwell

University-Wide Global Engagement

The University of Massachusetts meets the challenges of a complicated world by producing internationally aware graduates who are prepared to make a difference

Above right (L-R): Professor Williams with students Adam Moore, Swetha Polavarapu, Alexa Cabral, Kevin Gilmore, Timothy Swanton, and Brian Silva-Boutwell

Photo of Martin T. Meehan

“The University of Massachusetts prepares students to be globally competent—giving them the knowledge, experiences, and skills to work across cultures and borders.”

Jean F. MacCormack, Ed.D. Chancellor, UMass Dartmouth

In UMass classrooms, students and faculty explore current events, organizations, cultures, and issues within our nation’s borders and throughout the world.

Professor Williams translates Middle East strife in rough terrain to classroom

“These people live lives scarred by something unimaginable to most Americans—namely 25 years of war fought not in a distant land, but in their own towns, streets, and homes,” said University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Professor Brian Glyn Williams of the Afghan people he has met. “They want nothing more than for their children to grow up in a country where there is no war.”

Williams trains his expert eye on the conflict in Islamic Eurasia, conducting field studies and traveling through dangerous territories—including a recent trek to interview the notorious and well-insulated Taliban-killer, warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum—all in the pursuit of knowledge about the war on terror.

Dostum is the master of Northern Afghanistan and the Uzbek people. Dostum and his army of turbaned horsemen were America’s greatest allies in overthrowing Taliban forces in 2001.

Williams journeyed from Kabul, crossing the landmine-covered Shomali Plain and Hindu Kush mountains for an interview with Dostum, the man responsible for capturing almost all of the Taliban militants imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Williams eluded a heavy security detail to contact Dostum and made his request. With the word “tanam”—let’s do this—the anticipated five-minute conversation morphed into a two-week, in-depth interview.

Photo of Professor Brian Glyn Williams with warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum - in Afghanistan

Above: Professor Brian Glyn Williams with warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum—in Afghanistan

Not only did Williams get the most extensive interview with the warlord ever recorded, he also experienced the violent but beautiful Afghanistan. Williams was moved by the Uzbek people, some of whom slept outside his hut to ensure his safety.

“Professor Williams invigorated the classroom with stories of his time spent living in Afghanistan and with its people. Learning the struggles of the country... has helped me to see how these events tie into and shed light on 9/11 and why President Obama needs to deploy 30,000 more troops into hostile territory. Professor Williams has a gift in that he can bring history to life,” said student Brendan Valencia.

The program helps to meet the growing demand for higher education in China and increases the international student population at UMass. The program will open next year to all four UMass undergraduate campuses with the Dartmouth and Lowell campuses accepting students to targeted programs such as five-year master’s degree programs, and engineering and technology programs.

The University of Massachusetts holds international engagement as a high strategic priority. By supporting global initiatives and programs, recruiting international students and faculty, and working with partners and institutions to provide study-abroad opportunities, service learning projects, and internships—we educate productive and responsive citizens.

From international conflict, to a changing global economy, to escalating environmental concerns, this year reaffirmed our obligation to produce globally competent graduates with the critical tools for recognizing cultural values other than their own, for viewing global issues from a variety of perspectives, and for living and working in a rapidly changing environment.

In UMass classrooms, students and faculty explore current events, organizations, cultures, and issues within our nation’s borders and throughout the world. Students, faculty, and staff from our five campuses are conducting research and developing new products and technologies that impact critical global issues of regional, national, and international significance.

For example, last summer a group of UMass Medical School faculty and students visited Mumbai, India, where a monoclonal antibody discovered at Mass. Biologics Laboratories is being tested in clinical trials. The students got a firsthand look at health care in a developing country while conducting a clinical trial of a new drug that will one day be readily available to the people of India.

At UMass Boston, Professor Padraig O’Malley, the John Joseph Moakley Chair for Peace and Reconciliation, hosted the Divided Cities conference, a forum that brought together leaders from several war-torn nations. The forum facilitated conversations about peace between nations that were currently experiencing or had previously experienced war or conflict.

Whether through a classroom discussion, interaction with a visiting professor, or through an international service trip, students and faculty at the University of Massachusetts are exploring solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. The University’s continued efforts to incorporate intercultural and global elements into the teaching, research, and service functions of the University will help to foster the successful global leaders of tomorrow.