Penn State Intercom......June
21 , 2001
Global research and graduate
school partnership launched
Eleven research institutions
of international standing have come together to create a worldwide research
and graduate education partnership, to be known as the Worldwide University
Network (WUN). Unlike other international partnerships whose focus is
on undergraduate education and distance learning, the WUN is based primarily
on collaboration in research and graduate education. Cooperating institutions
also will develop online distributed learning programs to facilitate the
delivery of graduate and continuing educational programs.
members in the United States are The Pennsylvania State University, University
of California-San Diego, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin-Madison
and University of Washington. The members from the United Kingdom are
the universities of Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton
and York. Universities in other countries will be added as the partnership
to work together was reached in Washington, D.C., in April following several
months of planning. A number of pilot initiatives already are under development.
The initial cooperative graduate programs will focus on rapidly developing,
interdisciplinary areas of global significance.
first programs will be in the areas of bio-informatics, geography of the
new economy, public policy and management, smart materials and nanotechnology,"
according to Alan Wilson, vice chancellor of the University of Leeds and
Chairman of the WUN.
The network's teams of experts will have the collective expertise to tackle major global challenges on behalf of corporations, governments, the United Nations and other global agencies in ways that are not feasible by individual institutions.
"Research collaboration between faculty and graduate students in these areas and in areas that will be launched in the future will create significant intellectual and educational synergy, opportunities to share expertise and increased access to the partners' facilities," according to President Graham B. Spanier, vice chair of the WUN.
The partners are launching an international graduate exchange program in order to enhance research and educational experiences for graduate students. Travel awards and stipends for fellowships and assistantships will support graduate students who wish to undertake a period of research and study at another of the partner institutions.
Faculty from WUN member institutions already have participated in a series of colloquia to support the development of research and course proposals of a scope that could not easily be delivered by institutions alone.
"Some of the universities in the partnership are among the leaders in distance and online education," said Spanier.
"The universities are committed to collaboration in the development of courseware, pooling expertise in the development and operation of delivery platforms and emphasizing quality assurance," added Wilson.
The alliance hopes to increase student choice, enhance pedagogical effectiveness and provide better learning outcomes. The UK partners currently are bidding for funding being made available by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which is providing approximately
$100 million over the next three years to establish a global platform
for the delivery of online distributed learning and the commission of