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September 29, 2016

Pitt’s Global Plan

Ariel Armony

Ariel Armony

The University Center for International Studies (UCIS) is launching Pitt’s Global Plan with a series of discussions to explain Pitt’s goals for global engagement and identify ways units can collaborate to implement those goals.

The global plan was developed in conjunction with Pitt’s five-year strategic plan, but given that this has been declared the Year of Diversity at Pitt, the launch is especially timely.

Ariel Armony, UCIS director and senior director of international programs, said: “Real diversity and inclusion happens when we learn to appreciate people, ideas, habits that are different from our own. This happens when we engage with people who come from other cultures, when we learn other languages.”


The global plan, “Embracing the World,” lays out four goals:

• Pitt to the World/ the World to Pitt, a two-way approach to improving global connections while having a major impact domestically.

“It’s not just about expanding the way we reach out, also seeing how we bring the world to Pitt and how the world changes us,” said Armony.

• Global-ready initiatives, to cultivate globally capable and engaged students.

Among these is the development of a student “global credential” to demonstrate to future employers how Pitt prepares its students.

• Global impact, to convene a global community of researchers that advances the frontiers of knowledge and tackles real-world problems.

• Global operations support, to rewire and improve infrastructure to streamline, facilitate and expand engagement with the world.

“We are working toward a very comprehensive approach that is going to provide a much better set of tools,” so that faculty can more easily engage in international research and collaborations, Armony said.


The full plan, which details a host of proposed initiatives for implementing the four goals, can be viewed under the “global plan” tab at

Discussions planned

The plan — developed through extensive interaction with faculty, staff, students and alumni, including international alumni — is not meant to be received in a passive way, said Armony.

“A plan is a document that proposes and frames a general vision: It’s a living document that then needs to be implemented.”

Belkys Torres, UCIS associate director for international programs, said the plan now is revving up for implementation. “We really need the entire community to engage in conversation and take leadership in ownership of it,” she said.

“This is our attempt to break down the silos at Pitt,” Torres said, encouraging members of the community to offer their input at one or more of the discussions.

Separate sessions on international partnerships and on research are scheduled for Oct. 10. (Visit for details or to register for the sessions.)

Torres said two additional sessions — one for faculty and advisers on Oct. 11; another for invited student leaders — will focus on what a global credential might encompass and how it would demonstrate Pitt students’ preparedness.

The session on research will aim to assess faculty interests and the challenges involved in working internationally, and how well proposed initiatives will meet their needs. Discussion on partnerships will examine how to leverage existing connections and establish strategic new connections worldwide. How do we decide as a community where our energies, resources and expertise are best directed?

The discussions’ “World Cafe” format, in which participants move through several small-group conversations in response to specific questions, has proven effective in capturing ideas by facilitating meaningful interactions within large groups, said Armony. “It’s a great way to capture people’s ideas,” he said.

“The target is to get ideas on how we are going to implement some of the main areas of the plan. This is in the spirit of a process that should continue and should be very interactive,” he said.

Stakeholders worldwide

A unique aspect is that the global plan targets an audience that goes beyond the typical campus community to include as stakeholders a “global diaspora” of thousands of individuals who have Pitt connections.

“There are many ways that we need to think in a broader sense about the Pitt family,” he said. “We really need to start thinking about our community as a global community because it is a global community.”

The diaspora is broader than international alumni — it includes people such as visiting scholars and researchers who may have spent months or years here on campus, Armony said. “They leave and they have a strong feeling for Pitt,” he said.

“If we only think about alumni we are missing all those people,” he said. “They are extraordinary allies we need to incorporate.”

The need to embrace the world

The formulation of a global plan works to “create a consensus at the University — particularly with the leadership of the University — that international global aspects should be at the very core of what the University does. This is not an add-on,” he said.

“When the University makes decisions about partnerships, about risk management, about education and the way in which we promote diversity, the global and international aspects should be at the center of that decision-making process,” Armony said.

“That’s a huge change,” he said, adding, “I think that we are moving in that direction … but we’re not there yet.”

Strategic plan expanded

Pitt’s five-point strategic plan recently was expanded with the addition of “Embrace the World” as a distinct goal.

The global pillar initially was part of the “Strengthening Communities” goal, which included strengthening the Pitt community and the region. David DeJong, executive vice provost, said it has become clear as the strategic plan is implemented that combining the global, regional and University communities in one broad goal “did all three a disservice.”

In the revised strategic plan (, now comprised of six goals, “they’ve really been elevated now to equal status,” DeJong said.

Armony heralds the move as a public sign of the University’s support for that culture change. “These aspects are not something that is an addition, but that they are at the central core of what we do,” he said.

“When the University is placing an emphasis on economic partnerships, we cannot be thinking about economic partnerships without the international dimension,” he said.

“If we think about research — and Pitt is a research powerhouse to an important extent because of international collaborations — we know that when we talk about science, technology and innovation, we can’t help but engage internationally because this is the way we advance these areas,” he said.

“If we think about excellence in education, which is one of the goals in the plan, we cannot think about that without thinking that we have to educate global citizens,” he said.

He attributed increased hostility to immigrants, refugees and minorities here in the United States in part to the divide between those who have the skills and education to be part of the global economy and those who do not. “Our reality requires we understand these global forces,” he said.

“These are just a few examples of how this is absolutely central to what we do.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow 

Filed under: Feature,Volume 49 Issue 3

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