Northwestern Hosts the World

Inside a small, unassuming house on the corner of Sheridan Road and Emerson Street is an international extension of the University. The Center for International and Comparative Studies brings Northwestern faculty and students together with scholars from around the world for seminars, foreign-exchange programs and thought-provoking conferences. As the director of CICS, Andrew Wachtel believes it has an important mission, and his work at the center may be one of his greatest legacies on campus.

While a university like Northwestern is organized into separate academic departments, the "real" world outside isn't so neatly compartmentalized. CICS recognizes that reality; for example, political science and psychology professors might be equally interested in how the war in Iraq is perceived overseas. By fostering such cross-department dialogues, CICS helps foster the university's mission as a place for free exchange of ideas.

Part of the center's goal, says Wachtel, is to "stimulate dialogue within the Northwestern community and the broader public on important, and often overlooked, international issues." Take a look at a recent list of CICS-sponsored events and you'll get an idea of the range: James Kenny, the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, talking about the image of the United States in that country; a Turkish psychotherapist and researcher discussing women's sexuality in Muslim societies; Ann Orloff, a Northwestern sociology professor, sharing her research on working mothers in Sweden and the United States.

The center also sponsors visiting fellows from around the world. (Recent fellows came from countries such as Canada, China, Croatia, France, Serbia and Montenegro, South Korea and Tajikistan.) But perhaps what's most exciting are the exchanges taking place among Northwestern faculty. One research group brings together faculty from the School of Law, the Kellogg School of Management, and the history, political science and sociology departments of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences to investigate the international aspects of their work.

"It is really helpful to have an active, energetic program that can show Northwestern in the best light," says political science associate professor Will Reno, who is collaborating with Wachtel on a research project titled "Failed States, Failing States and Parastates." "Andrew is a really smart guy who can't sit still for more than 20 minutes, and all of us are better for it. If only he would run for office!" — E.C.B.

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Last updated  Friday, 07-Dec-2007 12:22:24 CST
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