Courtesy of Brandon Vicks, UR Photographer

On Friday, Feb. 17, UR formally joined the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN).

The WUN is an association of 18 research universities from around the world. It was established in 2000 with the mission of being “one of the leading international higher education networks, collaborating to accelerate the creation of knowledge and to develop leaders who will be prepared to address the significant challenges and opportunities, of our rapidly changing world,” according to its website.

It focuses on four global challenges: adapting to climate change, understanding cultures, higher education and public health.

UR is the first private university in the U.S. to join the WUN.  It joins the University of Washington, Penn State University and the University of Wisconsin — Madison.

According to Senior Vice President and Dean of the College Faculty Peter Lennie, UR was chosen because of its high academic standards.

“As a major U.S. research university, we bring to [the] WUN a distinctive perspective in both education and research,” he wrote in an email. “We bring special strengths in many of our programs.”

The WUN provides a means of global research collaboration. According to its website, it currently has over 30  “research initiatives in its portfolio.” Additionally, the network provides conferences, workshops and seminars for research faculty.

“Our collaborations with the Worldwide Universities Network will open innumerable possibilities as the University engages with faculty and students from across five continents,” UR President Joel Seligman said.

Lennie echoed Seligman’s emphasis on the importance of the University’s global engagement.

“Universities are increasingly operating in a global context, and must engage deeply with each other internationally,” he said. “Joining the WUN allows the University to more easily engage in these transnational interactions.”

There is a cost to membership in the WUN — an annual subscription — a large fraction of which “is used to provide modest seed funding for research programs in which faculty participate,” Lennie said.

Currently, many of the opportunities provided by the WUN are focused on graduate students and faculty. However, Lennie hopes this will change as time progresses.

“As we become more closely connected with the international partners in the network, we expect there to be increased opportunities for undergraduate exchanges and study abroad, and also participation in research projects,” he said.

Hansler is a member of the class of 2015.

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