Year of Pitt Global is bringing a variety of unique events to all Pitt campuses


The Year of Pitt Global has brought more than 100 globally focused events to Pitt’s campuses, but the University has long been more international than most people think, Belkys Torres told a lunchtime crowd on Jan. 29 at the latest Staff Council brown bag seminar.

Torres, executive director of global engagement at the University Center for International Studies, is co-chair of the steering committee for the Year of Pitt Global, the University-wide focus for the 2018-19 academic year, directed by the provost’s office.

“We know there are all sorts of benefits to global engagements,” Torres said. For one, those who learn a second language or encounter people from cultures outside their own “are more likely to thrive in their professional lives, are more likely to be happy in their personal development.”

Matching funds totally $125,000 from the provost’s office have spurred the creation of such events as:

  • An exhibit on the ground and second floors of Hillman Library called “Travelers Along the Silk Roads: 10th Century to the Present,” highlighting cultural exchanges along the route from China to Turkey beginning more than 1,000 years ago.
  • An appearance by steel drum performers the Ewabo Caribbean Trio on the Titusville campus
  • A School of Law conference on the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods
  • The North American premiere of an Irish play from 1964, “On Trial,” about the country’s abortion laws, at the Henry Heymann Theatre

“We didn’t even anticipate all the kinds of unique ideas people brought to bear,” Torres said, including Global Week at Bradford, where students will be helped to apply for passports.

The Year of Pitt Global tells Pitt students “they never really need to go abroad (to) internationalize their experience,” she added — although Pitt has 320 different study-abroad programs, through which 2,085 Pitt students travelled to 70 countries in 2018, she said.

Pitt is in the early stages of creating a Pitt Global Data Analytics and Insights Dashboard, a website that gathers University-wide data on all things international here: the variety of internationally focused courses, Pitt’s international partnerships and other data. The top-level information will be visible to everyone at Pitt, while deans, directors and department heads will have access to more details.

Also new for the Year of Pitt Global is a global competence certificate available through the  Faculty and Staff Development Program. It has two required courses — “Embracing the World at Pitt” and “Intercultural Competency: Beyond the Basics” — and four electives across two tracks: “Cross-Cultural Module” and “Operating in an International Context.”  The certificate will continue to be offered in future years as well.

Torres directed those with questions on foreign travel and services, international contracts and other global issues to see She also noted that students will soon enjoy Pitt’s new global student hub on the first floor of Posvar Hall, set to launch this fall. It will feature class and meeting spaces, particularly for foreign-language conversation groups; ever-changing wall displays about Pitt’s international academic programs and experiences; and rotating exhibits of Nationality Room artifacts.

Each year, Pitt has 3,000 international students on all campuses — 30 percent undergraduate, 70 percent graduate — and currently has 7,900 international alumni in 167 countries. A third of bachelor-degree graduates now have study-abroad experience. Going global at Pitt, Torres concluded, “is not a choice, it really is an imperative.”

Marty Levine is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.