Doorsteps to the World

Author: with Michael Pippenger and Scott Appleby '78

Michael Pippenger came to Notre Dame in September 2016 as Notre Dame’s vice president and associate provost for internationalization. He now leads efforts to expand and invigorate Notre Dame International (NDI), advancing the University’s international study, exchange and scholarship through global alliances and partnerships. NDI operates five “global gateways” (in Beijing, Dublin, Jerusalem, London and Rome) and six “global centers” (in Hong Kong; Mexico City; Mumbai; São Paulo; Santiago, Chile; and Kylemore Abbey in Ireland), while also enhancing diversity and cultural understanding on campus.  


Scott Appleby ’78 has been on the Notre Dame faculty since 1994 and was director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies for more than a decade. He now heads the Keough School of Global Affairs, established in 2014 to bring into a singular enterprise the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies and the Kroc Institute.    


On a Friday afternoon late last fall, at the invitation of this magazine, Pippenger and Appleby met in Jenkins Nanovic Halls to discuss the University’s interests in expanding Notre Dame’s global reach. This is an edited transcript of that conversation.     


Michael Pippenger: So, Scott, what’s been the greatest joy for you in starting the Keough School?


Scott Appleby: It’s all been very exciting. The University had a series of intense and interesting conversations starting in 2010 about the need to internationalize the campus and to create a global school to partner with NDI. And there was a lot of discussion, a lot of detail, but at the end of the day, they said to me and my team, “OK, you’ve got the basic parameters; now how are you going to envision this?”


So the vision we came up with — integral human development — is a term first used by Pope Paul VI 50 years ago, and is used consistently by Pope Francis. The mission is to contribute to this global conversation about the best way to lift people out of poverty, resolve conflict, address the needs of people for health care, adequate education — a whole host of social justice issues.


For us that begins with the dignity of the human person in educating and training students. Then your research, your scholarship, is practical, it is applied, it is policy-relevant, and it develops best practices all around the question: “How do we make sure that when we work for development — broadly interested in peace, for human rights, for health care and education — how do we ensure that we are working as partners with the people we are trying to serve?” In their languages, in the frame of their cultures, through their ethical perceptions and values.


Having NDI as a partner with the Keough School enables us to have direct contact and engagement with faculty, students, people around the world. So, long-winded answer to a simple question — what the great joy is — we got to create and invent because of the great ambition and energy and belief and hope and resources of Notre Dame. It’s not a completely uncomplicated ride, as you know, but that’s a great gift, really.


Banner Appleby PippengerPhotos by Matt Cashore ’94

MP: I think that’s true, and there are several things that resonate with me. The first is that one of the things that’s exciting about this time for the University is there is this hunger to be internationally engaged and to think critically about how we go about doing that. It doesn’t just happen. We don’t just suddenly become international by announcing that we have a new office like Notre Dame International or that we have a new school like the Keough School.


It comes about because people are hungry to be engaged in the world, and I think that’s been a part of Notre Dame’s DNA. I remember when I was interviewing for the position I have now and I was reading up on the Congregation of Holy Cross, one of the things that was very clear was that the congregation, as they went out in the world, felt what they had to do first was live alongside people, work alongside people, worship with other people. Listen to them, and from that will come this notion of advancement and understanding and the development that you’re talking about.


I do think one of the joys of the job is inventing things as we go, because we’ve been very good as a university about thinking about what it means to do good in the country. Now we’re at a point where we can say, “What does it mean and how do we effect change in the world and bring to a wider world what we do that is so unique to Notre Dame?”


I think, too, that when you talk about integral human development, all of the work that we do at NDI — whether it’s working, sending undergraduate students abroad, whether it’s bringing international students and international faculty here to learn, to teach in the community, whether it’s supporting faculty research on a global scale, or whether it’s running the global gateways and centers — all of that is meant to promote integral human development. Thinking about how the global becomes necessary for the individual to flourish, to understand that they’re not alone, that they’re part of ever-widening communities.


SA: One thing I think we both try to keep in mind, and it’s important to do so, is approaching what we’re doing with humility — that we are in a mode of accompanying people. We are eliciting from them the cues that will help us understand them and serve them.


I learned when I went around to other schools of global affairs and international affairs, all of the incredible work they are doing. The NGO world, the private sector, other religious groups. So it’s important for us to keep that in mind, because we can get very absorbed here in all the great things that Notre Dame is doing and kind of think, “Well, let us share with you the wonderful beneficence of our university.”


And the other quick thing in the internationalization piece, is that it’s a natural for a university that is of a church that is global and transnational, multicultural and multilingual. There’s not a more global institution than the Catholic Church. That’s part of our mission. That said, there are challenges to doing it.


MP: Another thing I would say about humility and listening is that the challenge begins in making sure that we’re working together as one community to prioritize. Part of the way we learn how to prioritize is listening to our faculty, listening to our students, listening to our alumni to really understand what their needs are in the international sphere. What is it that they want to accomplish? Then, how do we, collectively as a community, work together to allow their work to flourish wherever it is around the world?


I think when we do that, and when we hear what their needs are, we’re then able to adjust. Well, what does a master’s program look like at the Keough School? What does it look like to create a global gateway that allows faculty to do research with local partners, produce new knowledge, publish new articles, get new grants, be at the frontiers of their research? When we understand how that fits into a larger conversation that we’re having about what it means to be international, then I think we’ll naturally act with that kind of humility and mindfulness and alertness that will allow us to move forward — and that’s important.


I think the strategy doesn’t come from the top. It’s not somebody in the Dome saying, “We must do this.” It’s us in the community having a series of conversations, understanding what our past is, where our strengths are, where we might feel vacuums or voids that we feel we have an obligation to fill. Then, how do we go about doing that?


SA: You asked at the beginning about the joys. Let me turn it around and ask, “What are our challenges?” I’ll mention one of mine:  How do we keep track of it all? It’s a good thing we’re both jugglers.


Feature Appleby

But another of my challenges is when people ask, “What is Notre Dame’s contribution to the broader discussion in the academic study of global affairs, and in policy and practice? What are we bringing to the table?”


This mission of integral human development is a wonderful vision and talking point and it sounds great, and then, “How do we do it?” The question requires of us, I think, something even more ambitious than other graduate and undergraduate programs in global affairs, in this sense:  We definitely at Notre Dame have to give our students what the other great schools of international affairs give them. Namely, they have to know quantitative reasoning. They have to understand leadership and organizational dynamics. They have to understand methods of studying and practicing in global affairs. So there’s a toolkit and a canon for international global affairs schools.


If we don’t give them statistics, quantitative analysis, leadership and the rest, then we can talk about ethics and values all we want, and no one will pay attention to us. But, in addition to making sure we have the faculty, the expertise, to give them what other global and international schools give them, we have to take cultures very seriously. We have to take languages and history and humanities very seriously, and we have to take very seriously ethics and religion.


Our contribution at Notre Dame is to integrate an appreciation for the history and cultures and religions of various societies into the more technical, economic, political solutions — because the critique the Church gives of development is that it is too narrowly technical, economic or even political, and that does not necessarily yield the results one expects.


It’s really all hands on deck, because the problems of the world require many disciplines and sectors of society to address them: climate change, health care, conflict, bad governance. All of these are interrelated and you can’t treat them as silos.


The challenge is putting that all together.  It’s a wonderful challenge to have, but at times I do think, “Have we lost our minds?”


MP: I’m laughing. I think we’re all overachievers at Notre Dame. That’s a wonderful blessing, and a curse perhaps, but it’s a challenge I relish. I do think this notion of integration is very important. I think where any university runs the risk of falling into a trap is when they think that there is one office or one school that is responsible for carrying the international flag. I don’t feel that way at all. So, when I think of the things I juggle and the things that we as an institution juggle, I think about the fact that every school here, every college and school has a role to play. They have their own international aspirations, their faculty have their own international hopes and dreams and projects. We need to be sure that we are working with everyone where they’re at, so that people understand that they’re part of a collective pool, and that they’re part of a larger set of activities that’s bigger than just those individual projects.


I think that’s what we’re trying to do across the entire University. So what does it mean for the Law School to have a vibrant law program in London? What does it mean for Architecture to have had an extended presence in Rome all of these years? What does it mean for the College of Science or the College of Engineering to have faculty going down to the Pontifical University in Santiago to do research with Chilean scientists? How does all of that weave itself into a narrative of what it means to be global? Science is global, engineering is global, our public health initiatives through the Eck Institute for Global Health are global in nature.


If we neglect that wider remit, and that wider spectrum of projects that we’re doing, we’ll never succeed in the integration that you’re talking about. I think that’s the challenge. How do you bring people with different ideas, expectations, assumptions, histories, traditions, goals to see that’s all part of one narrative for human diversity?


SA: The good news in that, that you alluded to, is that neither of those were started from scratch here.


MP: That’s right.


SA: We’re building on, really, decades of international engagements of various types — in my case, going back to the curricular challenges and the challenges of building a faculty. What we’ve already got here — I’ll just give you three examples: A remarkably successful program in international economics in the College of Arts and Letters, including a growing focus on development economics. We could not live without that at the Keough School, and we don’t have to make that up ourselves.


Appleby: 'I would like to see our students from various parts of the world be part of the conversation that allows our own nation, our own government, to think globally and be ever more open to voices from different countries in the world.'


We have a political science department and political scientists who are really interested in policy. So you don’t need to worry about that.


The third I’ll mention is, of course, we have such strength in theology and the study of religion. And we have some joint appointments between the Keough School and theology, and we have a number of scholars in almost every department in both the College of Arts and Letters and the Keough School who work in religion as such, not necessarily as theologians, but as political scientists, sociologists, historians. It’s just a rich place.


MP: I’m very grateful for those that have come before us to build the international portfolio that we both inherited. The fact that a school like Architecture has been in Rome for so long allowed us to call that space a gateway, where we hoped that other schools would then want to build upon that platform, and we have. There’s now an engineering program in Rome. What does it mean that the Tantur Ecumenical Institute has been in Jerusalem? We’re one of only two U.S. universities that has a physical presence in the Holy Land. What does it mean when we add to that wonderful, rich research institute that’s meant to promote ecumenism?


What do we do when we add to that platform undergraduate students who wish to learn about the Middle East? What do we do to that platform when we add students from Keough who are studying there and focused on peace and conflict resolution? What does it mean then, when we add in a fellowship that allows our faculty to come and go through Jerusalem to do research with partners like Tel Aviv University? We can only do those things because people came before us to help pave the way. I think it’s at this point in time, this really unique point in time, where we’re saying as an institution, “All of that history is good, now let’s synthesize that into something that we can identify in ourselves and that the world can identify in us that makes us a global leader.”


I think the other thing too, is that people don’t often think about all of the kinds of administrative work that goes into having a presence around the world. There’s a lot of work that people don’t always see.


SA: I’ll take one piece of that topic — an important piece — and that is the interaction among people from different cultural and social backgrounds from around the world; how we all learn and evolve in getting better at negotiating different values, different cultures, different sensibilities as we encounter more and more international students and faculty and colleagues at the gateways and elsewhere.


So that piece of navigating the cultural differences is fascinating, intriguing and challenging.  


MP: I think that’s one of the ways that the gateways are such a unique and exciting invention for us as an institution. Notre Dame has chosen this route where our physical presence in the world is not a branch campus. It’s not only about study abroad. These gateways are meant to be a true gateway where people can access Notre Dame from the international community, and people from Notre Dame can go out into the world.


One of our best treasures is the fact that we have alumni all over the world who can help those who don’t have the international experience or haven’t had that global exposure to learn how to navigate that, to be a gathering place. So those gateways are there for students to do study abroad. And yes, they are there for faculty to do research with local partners. But they’re also gathering spaces for alumni, for the parents of current students — all of those people have a role to play in educating us about what it means to be out in the world.


Because being out in the world in São Paulo is very different from being out in the world in London or in South Bend. I think that’s a collective work, and we’ve built these places that allow that work to happen, so that we do become more savvy global citizens. What does that mean? I don’t know if we’ve fully defined that for ourselves or that our culture has defined it, but I think we at Notre Dame have an obligation to explore what that means, and then follow through on that.


SA: One relatively concrete way we’re thinking about the question of global citizenship at the Keough School is that we’re building a policy studies program. We call it the Global Policy Initiative, and we’re about to open an office in Washington, D.C., that will help bring together various Notre Dame presences at the capital of the nation, one of the centers of global policy. People from around the world are in D.C., and they’re part of an ongoing discussion around policy, foreign aid, trade, conflict resolution — the whole gamut of the things we’re studying in the Keough School.


I would like to see our students from various parts of the world be engaged, not only in the private sector and in the NGO world, but in government, and be part of the conversation that allows our own nation, our own government, to think globally and be ever more open to voices from different countries in the world.


In order for that to happen, our students have to think of themselves not only as citizens of their home nations or of the United States, but to really represent global interests. Now that’s a big term. We both struggle with that. What does that mean? It can be an abstract, vacuous term, but I think it begins with recognizing the interconnectedness of all peoples, especially when we enter a phase of history where resources are depleted in many areas — where conflict in one part of the world clearly affects markets and dynamics elsewhere.


The more our country can be aware of that, primarily through people who are part of the conversation from different international backgrounds, the better. I think this notion of global citizenship is an important one for us both, and for the University to deepen our purchase on, and one angle of that is engaging our students and our faculty more and more deeply and in interesting ways.


MP: Catholic social teaching is a great guide to us in thinking about those things — about the worth of every human person and the dignity that every individual has. I think we’re also really fortunate that we’ve been partnering throughout this whole year to inaugurate the Keough School and to continue to celebrate the development of NDI. The global forum, right? So, to this point about global citizenship, we’re creating opportunities for our students, our faculty and the wider Notre Dame community, to hear what global citizenship looks like to different people, and how that might call you to public service or engagement in supporting human development.


That’s a sign that we as a community are taking this project seriously, and that we’re engaging people at all levels. And it’s not something that you solve once, and then you’re done. Rather, it’s an ongoing refinement of the position and a complex set of ideas to understand what it means to be a global citizen.


SA: Right. And we need to understand why that’s important, why we’re doing this. Even though Notre Dame has been doing this in very important ways for a long time, we have crossed a threshold at the University with a clear mandate from the president and the provost’s office to internationalize, to globalize the curriculum, the student body, research. Why are we doing that? Maybe we should each take a crack at that.


MP: I’ll gladly let you go first.


SA: Well, number one, Notre Dame cannot continue to be a leading national research university in the 21st century if it does not become a leading international research university.


MP: That’s absolutely true. I couldn’t agree with you more.


SA: It’s just absolutely necessary, given the direction that history has taken. Global trade and commerce and interaction is nothing new under the sun. That said, just trace it back to the late ’90s and the internet, if you want to start there. In 25 years we’ve had our consciousness and our lives transformed by digital technology, by new forms of communication, by new forms of trade. It’s a very different game than it was when I started here, back in what now seems like the 19th century.


Pippenger: 'We’re not saying we want to do scholarship for scholarship’s sake, we’re saying we want to do scholarship to produce and promote good in the world.'


So the world has changed dramatically. A great advantage of that and a challenge for us and the reason to go global is that the students that come to this University are so talented and gifted.


MP: They’re stellar.


SA: But also the graduate students are coming with an expectation that we keep up with them, at the very minimum, in terms of making accessible to them the world, which is smaller in so many ways, because of communication and technology, and crises and challenges that are truly global. No longer national, no longer merely local.


If we don’t get serious about this, we’re falling behind. We’re not providing the kind of 21st-century education and experience that is expected of a leading university.


Then I would add that we can’t presume to be a Catholic university if we’re the ones lagging behind on thinking globally, given the Church’s transnational presences. We have had all kinds of interesting interactions with and alliances with the Congregation of Holy Cross around the world, the Vatican, the Catholic Church more broadly. We haven’t been necessarily systematic or strategic in that. As in so many things global, we’re now called to think strategically.


MP: We are thinking strategically, and I do think that’s exciting. I think you’re absolutely right that we have an obligation to use our talents, and our time and our resources to be at the forefront of solving those global problems that we face. The problems that we face are global. Global warming is real. Climate change is real. The millions of human beings who are migrants around the world are real. Their plight is real. We are in a unique position, because of our Catholic tradition and our heritage and our faith, to be a leader to solve those problems.


Our scholarship doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We can’t solve those problems alone. We can’t eradicate global warming on our own. Right? Science happens internationally with authors of papers from around the world. We cannot talk about public policy, whether it’s domestic or international, without having interlocutors and experts who have a different experience in a different location, but might have something similar to share that can pave the way for a solution to a problem.


Our students do expect us to be that beacon to help solve those problems, so we have to be thinking three steps ahead of them, and our faculty are doing that, and we as a university are doing that, but that requires a lot of work. I would say one other thing as well, which is that . . . we have a moral voice. We have an obligation to raise that voice based on that notion of what that common good is. No other U.S. university at the level we’re talking about has that.


We’re in a unique position. We’re not saying we want to do scholarship for scholarship’s sake, we’re saying we want to do scholarship to produce and promote good in the world. If we’re not doing that, then we’re not being true to ourselves or true to what we are called to do.


SA: One of the questions we both get, I think, is, “Where do you expect to be in five years and what are your metrics of success?”


For the Keough School, one of the important metrics of success is how well our students are placed in jobs. We want to position those students to be able to be global citizens, and to think about how their careers will take on a global profile. We’re aspiring to create globally minded graduates of Notre Dame.


Are they being placed in jobs with a trajectory towards leadership, towards real impact, towards a voice that reflects the values of Notre Dame, and of their participation in that conversation about values? That’s a clear metric.


Another metric for us is to have our scholars, our faculty, cited frequently. This is a standard measure of academic success. So the citations among the experts and their journals has to be consistently high and impressive, but also citations in journals that engage with practice — the practice of providing education and health care and protecting human rights and working with people in poverty.


We have to be sure that our faculty and our graduates — their voices are resonating through citation indexes, through publications, through invitations to testify before congresses here and elsewhere — are recognized as experts and leaders in the field of development, broadly and capaciously understood, that has an ethical heart in it, and a humane orientation to it, and is inflected with the values of faiths.


In five years I would like us to have been recognized by our peer institutions educationally as bringing to the table a recognizable but distinctive voice and presence and set of concerns and expertise.


I was having a conversation a couple of years ago, when we just got started, with a gentleman named Raj Shah, who was at the time the administrator at USAID, the Agency for International Development, and is now head of the Rockefeller Foundation. Interesting and talented young man. We were talking about the Keough School, and he said, “So, what’s at the heart of what’s distinctive about what you want for the Keough School?” And I said, “Religion, culture, meaning, purpose,” something to that effect, and he was ebullient in response. He jumped up from his chair and said, “That’s exactly what we need around the table.”


We don’t want Notre Dame to come in and give all the answers, but we want Notre Dame graduates to raise the right questions, to raise the ethical questions. They have to be competent in the areas of expertise that we expect, so we’re taking that for granted, but we need more people around the table who say, “What’s at stake ethically?” “What is the purpose of what we’re doing?” “What is the meaning? Why are we doing this?”


His answer captivated my imagination. He said, “This is the issue, bubbling under everything we do at USAID: Why are we doing it? What’s the purpose? What are the goals and what are the values that we’re aspiring to embody?” He continued, “We actually don’t talk about this very much.”


It’s right beneath the surface, and if Notre Dame produces graduates that are comfortable raising these questions without thinking they have all the answers, that’s going to be an invaluable contribution. So, I hope that the reputation we establish, among other things, is for compassionate, ethically sophisticated, evidence-based, fully competent professionals who have benefited from the research scholarship that our faculty is doing, and are ready to take a leadership role in these related areas of poverty, human rights, good governance, adjusting to climate change and crises around the world.


That’s kind of an ambitious goal for five years, so, give us 10.


MP: I think you are correct that we want both our students and our faculty to be seen as global leaders, and that’s a critical way to measure success. When I think, “What does success look like?” or, “How do we measure the progress that we’re making?” there are very practical kinds of things that we can do as an institution in the next couple of years that would go a long way in redefining who we are as a global university.


For instance, we know that many of our faculty are doing global research, and are publishing around the world. We don’t have that collected in one place to showcase that to our partners around the world, to our alumni, to each other, to other fellow scholars. That’s something we need to do.


I think we also have to think about, “How do we tell stories, and what stories do we tell, about this global experience?” We did a lot of work over the summer with our colleagues in the archives, in the library, looking at our own global past. Global has been in our DNA from the beginning. The fact that Father Sorin himself was from France, of course. But also, early in the 1900s, we had 10 percent of our students as international students. At one point in the early 1900s, the University bulletin was bilingual in English and Spanish. People don’t know that.


We have this DNA, but we’ve lost some of those stories that we need to reclaim, but we also need to be writing new stories now, so that when there is a Notre Dame faculty member or a student or an alum, and they’re somewhere out in the world, “global” inevitably comes up — in the same way our excellence in athletics comes up or the same way we talk about our Catholic heritage. We’re not there yet with global. But if we’re providing the access and the opportunities, they will speak that way in the future. And then people will recognize their work as being global, and us as a global institution.


SA: Let the record show that Appleby is nodding enthusiastically.


MP: Noted.


SA: Well, it’s late on a Friday afternoon, Pippenger. Should we take the rest of the day off and go get a drink?


MP: Yes. We should.


SA: But of course we can’t, can we?


MP: We cannot.