University President John J. DeGioia described the responsibility of global universities like Georgetown to foster peace and security in the modern world in a speech Wednesday at the U.S. Department of State.

DeGioia’s speech was part of the 22nd annual meeting of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, which facilitates cooperation between American companies operating abroad and the U.S. government. The conference addressed globalization’s ramifications on security, and other speakers included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

DeGioia said that institutions of higher education provide a unique setting for the exchange of ideas, giving them a singular role in fostering international cooperation and understanding.

“Providing the context where horizons of significance can be fused – where bridges can be built between communities of interpretation – is one of our continuing challenges and one of our greatest opportunities to make an enduring difference in our world,” he said. “And by ensuring that this engagement is one of the central themes of academic and campus life, we can more fully prepare our students to be global citizens and leaders. And in the process, we help promote global peace and therefore security.”

DeGioia called for U.S. universities to keep up with global competition in the academic arena.

He cited a study from the National Science Foundation that found that among 23 of the most developed countries, the U.S. ranked 19th in the number of 24-year-olds who hold degrees in natural science or engineering.

“We will not sustain our place in the world, and our students will not find their place in the world, unless universities are engines of innovation,” he said. “This capacity can only be built on our strength in science, mathematics, engineering and technology, [which are] the most explosive areas of knowledge creation in this new century.”

Georgetown is a global university, DeGioia said, because of its internationally focused approach to issues.

“To be a global university requires a different way of engaging with our world,” DeGioia said. “It requires that we recognize that being global entails an engagement in the world that is multilateral, multinational and multicultural, an engagement that requires many partners that transcend national identities, national boundaries.”

DeGioia said Georgetown’s global vision allows it to assume a prominent role in international relations. He cited Georgetown’s campus in Doha, Qatar, its partnership with the Central Party School, where prominent government officials undergo training, the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, the student body that is drawn from 143 countries and students studying abroad at more than 120 sites worldwide as examples of Georgetown’s global integration.

Additionally, DeGioia emphasized the responsibility of the global university to promote human development as well as to foster cross-cultural understanding. “One of the greatest intellectual contributions of our universities is our commitment to critical methodologies – in other words, our styles of critique … our approaches to seeking the truth through analysis, questioning and answering.”

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