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Lule to lead new globalization initiative

Jack Lule

Jack Lule, the Joseph B. McFadden Distinguished Professor of Journalism, has been named director of a new initiative that will enhance research and teaching on the international, social, political, economic, environmental and cultural concerns of today and tomorrow.

The Globalization and Social Change Initiative promises to transform study of global issues at Lehigh.

“Globalization has changed the world and will continue to change the world,” Lule says. “Universities have a responsibility to provide research and teaching that seek to comprehend these changes. Lehigh, in particular, because of its great interdisciplinary tradition, is perfectly positioned to take the lead in understanding the many dimensions of globalization and social change.”

Lule received his Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Georgia with a certificate in Global Policy Studies. He has published widely on international news coverage of terrorism, war reporting, and media responses to international disasters, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities award for studies of news on terrorism. He has taught the international communications course since 1990 and led the Global Communication working group of the Globalization and Social Change Initiative.

“Barbara Malt, while she was chair of psychology, led the task force that worked for more than three years to get the proposal accepted,” Lule says. “Barbara and all those involved with the working groups deserve a great deal of credit for establishing a solid foundation for this initiative.”

Building on a strong foundation

Anne Meltzer, the Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, described Lule as the “perfect choice” for implementing the proposal.

“With Lehigh’s increasing focus on global perspectives, Jack is the perfect choice to provide coherence to our university-wide efforts,” Meltzer says. “I know this new program will be a great success with the continued energy, effort and involvement of Jack and many of our faculty.”

The Globalization and Social Change Initiative will bring together faculty with research interests in Global Communication, Identity and Culture, and Politics and Social Structure.

“We already have a great number of faculty working in various disciplines on issues of globalization,” Lule says. “In just this past year, Lehigh faculty have produced research on international terrorism, global communication, cultural change, global warming, comparative religions, and many other global topics. I can’t imagine a better interdisciplinary foundation for an initiative like this.”

Sharing this research through coursework will be an important part of the initiative. A singular, interdisciplinary major in Global Studies will be developed that draws on coursework from three colleges. The new major will likely include intermediate language proficiency, study abroad, and workshops at the United Nations. The initiative will also provide support to relevant current and future graduate programs as well as work closely with other globally focused groups on campus, including the Global Citizenship program, the Global Union and Area Studies programs.

Lehigh’s stature on the international stage will also be bolstered by hosting seminars on issues of global import on campus and in New York City and Washington, D.C., helping raise Lehigh’s profile as one of only six universities that the United Nations recognizes with non-governmental organization, or NGO, status.

Provost Mohamed El-Aasser says he believes students will be attracted to a new program that gives them a working knowledge of global society and politics, broad linguistic and cultural skills, significant overseas experience, and greater intellectual and cultural sophistication.

“This program will help Lehigh graduates play a more active role and have a deeper appreciation for the cultural, political and linguistic diversity of the world around them,” El-Aasser says.

Plans already are underway for an introductory course in Global Studies. Two tenure-track faculty searches were approved by the College of Arts and Sciences this year, one in comparative sociology and another in international relations, which will contribute to the initiative.

Lule says he is also pursuing partnerships with other like-minded programs around the world, including those in Europe, Asia and the southern hemisphere. Such partnerships can foster faculty and student research, increase student and faculty exchanges, and offer other opportunities for educational and cultural interactions.

“We expect that eventually the research and teaching produced by the Globalization and Social Change Initiative will touch, in some way, the life and education of every student who comes through Lehigh,” Lule says. “That’s an ambitious goal, but one that’s necessary in this new world.”

--Bette Phelan

Photo by Theo Anderson

Posted on Tuesday, December 05, 2006

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