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University President Steven Knapp signed an agreement Tuesday to exchange faculty and students with the University of Jordan, part of a plan for GW to help the Middle Eastern school build up its tourism program.

Scholars and administrators from the GW School of Business’ International Institute of Tourism Studies will take part in strengthening University of Jordan’s tourism and hospitality school, which enrolls 200 students after launching three years ago.

University President Steven Knapp and Ekhleif Tarawneh, president of the University of Jordan, signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday to exchange students and faculty between the universities' tourism programs. Photo courtesy of the Office of Media Relations

Knapp joined University of Jordan President Ekhleif Tarawneh in Amman, Jordan to sign the memorandum of understanding formalizing the two schools’ relationship.

“The George Washington University is honored to sign this agreement with the University of Jordan to develop collaborative research, academic programs and training projects in Jordan and the United States,” Knapp said in a release.

GW’s business school offers a master of tourism administration degree, and its tourism program already established ties with universities in Brazil, Canada, South Korea and Trinidad and Tobago. The University was the first in the country to offer a tourism master’s degree in 1974.

University of Jordan’s tourism school, which prepares students to jump into the country’s largest private sector employer, started in 2009 in Aqaba, a coastal city near the country’s borders with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Tourism has slumped in Jordan over the past two years since unrest started in the region, according to a March article in The New York Times. The country shares its northern border with Syria and part of its northeastern border with Iraq.

Jordan also boasts tourist attractions like coral reefs, ancient mosques and the archaeological city Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

“Jordan has much to offer as a tourism destination. GW has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the tourism sector in Jordan. We look forward to this new partnership with the University of Jordan and to working together to build an even stronger tourism workforce for Jordan and the entire region,” Kristin Lamoureux, director of the International Institute of Tourism Studies, said in a release.

The University has already sent medical students and doctors to work in the country’s hospitals, as the School of Medicine and Health Sciences has a similar agreement with the University of Jordan.

Knapp met with medical students and physicians who have studied and worked at GW on his trip, which also included meetings with Jordan’s Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Fayez Ahmad al-Tarawneh, prime minister and minister of defense of Jordan.

The University has long looked to expand its global reach, but its international focus has been sharpened over the last year. Globalization is a central theme to GW’s upcoming strategic plan, which may lay out a blueprint for it to establish stronger ties in Asia, South America and sub-Saharan Africa.

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Provost Steve Lerman discussed the vision, approach and major themes used by the University to develop its strategic plan at a town hall Tuesday in the Marvin Center. Ashley Lucas | Contributing Photo Editor

Ideas like creating a GW think tank and merging the University’s schools into one undergraduate college are getting serious attention from the groups laying out this fall’s strategic plan, administrators said at a town hall Tuesday.

More than 200 people – few of them students – attended the event in the Marvin Center, as Provost Steven Lerman and the leaders of the strategic plan’s four working groups presented plans to prepare GW for transformations in the world and in higher education.

The groups have met up more than 30 times since March to discuss the plan’s four themes of globalization, policy and governance, innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration, and citizenship. Each includes about 15 faculty and staff members and two students.

The group focusing on interdisciplinary work has jumped at the idea to create one undergraduate college for students, following the models of Harvard University and the University of Chicago. Uniting undergraduate programs under one college would help students tackle more fields of study instead of staying in one discipline, said the group’s leader, Brian Richmond.

“We need to change the way we think about education,” Richmond, who is also chair of the anthropology department, said. “This would remove barriers that do exist.”

The University could also look toward restructuring undergraduate curriculum to focus on issues like poverty and obesity, or creating more specific minors in subjects like sustainability.

The strategic plan, a signature piece of University President Steven Knapp’s agenda, will look to define GW’s next 10 years. Lerman said the working groups hope to prepare the strategic plan for October’s Faculty Assembly and Board of Trustees meeting.

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman, who presented plans for the group on policy and governance, said a GW think tank could help expand the University’s research footprint.

He said hiring more tenure-track faculty in policy areas like race relations and sustainability would help strengthen ties between students and policy makers. These relationships would lead to better internships for students, which he said “are not always very meaningful opportunities” because they require mail sorting instead of practical experiences.

“When we turn on the news, we see GW professors and commenting on it but we don’t necessarily see us as the people making it. We want to be seen as the ones making it,” Maltzman said.

GW School of Business Dean Doug Guthrie pitched the University’s international plans, which include broad goals like building “deep relationships” in China, India, Brazil and sub-Saharan Africa.

He said the group discussed doubling the number of international students at GW and continued talks about creating an undergraduate degree program that could span three continents, which Guthrie and Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Peg Barratt will try to launch by fall 2013.

Terri Reed, vice provost for diversity and inclusion, also discussed her groups’ efforts to spearhead changes to how the University develops “model citizens.”

She said creating a first-year undergraduate course on leadership and generating opportunities for a gap semester or year for students to participate in service projects were all on the table for the strategic plan.

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Colin Powell, a retired four-star general in the U.S. army, headlined the third annual GW Global Forum in Seoul, South Korea. Hatchet File Photo

One of the University’s most prominent alumni said Saturday a more secure world has opened up pathways to innovation and prosperity at the GW Global Forum in Seoul, South Korea.

About 300 alumni and friends of the University attended the third annual event aimed at developing the GW’s ties with graduates living abroad, the largest contingent of which are based in South Korea.

“More nations are living in a democracy than ever before. There are fewer wars than ever before. It is a different world,” Colin Powell, who earned his master of business administration from GW in 1971, said.

The forum, with a theme of international growth and innovation, included about a dozen speeches and panels on global topics like public health, diplomacy and interconnected financial markets.

Chris Anderson, an alumnus and editor in chief of Wired Magazine, spoke of the potential for a third industrial revolution pushed by technology and manufacturing.

“We have the capacity to be manufacturers,” he said in the forum’s closing speech. “This is a big deal. It’s a combination of desktop prototyping and global access to manufacturing for anybody of any scale. It allows us to replicate the web model with physical goods.”

Several administrators including University President Steven Knapp, Provost Steven Lerman and School of Media and Public Affairs Director Frank Sesno traveled about 7,000 miles to attend the forum.

Nobel laureate and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology Ferid Murad also discussed his research of nitric oxide and the discovery of its role in the cardiovascular system.

Knapp said the forum was an opportunity for the University to gauge its place in a world that is seeing rapid innovation.

“There is no higher duty that we as a university community have than to come together to reflect on and to shed whatever light we can on those events, issues and trends that are shaping the destiny of our shared world,” Knapp said.

Previous global forums were held in Hong Kong and New York City.

The University has looked to expand its reach around the globe. Last month Lerman pitched globalization as a signature theme for the upcoming academic strategic plan. International students make up about 7 percent of the Class of 2015 and about 225,000 alumni live abroad.

School of Business Dean Doug Guthrie and Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Peg Barratt are also working to make GW a degree-granting institution in China by the fall of 2013.

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