CLASnotes

A Note From the Dean


Internationalizing CLAS

SullivanGreetings from Turlington Plaza. Spring 2001 has become a historical season of change for the University of Florida as we prepare for major revisions in the governance of the university and a welcome degree of independence in defining the paths for our future. This independence will allow us to attain higher levels of excellence and develop outstanding programs that will place CLAS among the best within public universities.

While these internal changes provide new opportunities for the college, the external realities of an increasingly global community present their own challenges. These realities necessitate that we establish a stronger international character for our institution. Within our college today, we are keenly aware that we must prepare our students for a global society. We must expand our teaching to help our students understand and respect the cultures of other peoples, and to value and appreciate the ethics of those who have grown up in different societies.

Responding to this need, the college has recently developed several new interdisciplinary programs in the humanities and social sciences that are emerging as international leaders in their field. The nascent Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere will place UF on the map as an international gathering place for writers, historians, philosophers, linguists and poets, among others, who will collaborate in researching new avenues of cultural literacy and the changing role of ethics in modern society. These scholars will explore such disparate areas as film and media studies, applied philosophy, and the religions of the Americas. The new Land Use and Environmental Change Institute (LUECI) will provide students with unique, world-class programs in the application of advanced scientific methods for studying the effects of climate change and land use on the evolution of population growth and the rise and fall of civilizations. The special focus of LUECI on studying the evolution of fragile ecosystems, such as those found in Florida, is of interest world-wide because of the concern for human survival in the face of limited resources.

Recognizing the increasing importance of internationalization, UF has recently formed a partnership with Spain to build the world's largest optical telescope (El Gran Telescopio) on La Palma in the Canary Islands with first-light expected in 2003. This collaboration across the Atlantic, as well as our participation in major international science projects such as the Large Hadron Collider (the world's largest physics accelerator) in Switzerland and in-depth environmental studies in Amazonia and the Yucatan, depend on our ability to exchange large volumes of information at high speed. CLAS scientists are aware of this demand and are leading a NSF funded $11.9 million national effort called the Grid Physics Network (GriPhyN) to develop a high-speed computer network that will set the standard for the future. This project, which will likely become the world's fastest and most powerful computer data grid, will have resounding effects on research and scholarship on a global scale.

CLAS has an important and challenging role to play in developing these international programs. Their successes will build strong and long-lasting collaborations with leading universities throughout the world. Today's students and tomorrow's alumni will become international leaders in our specialties as the college and the university assume a stronger responsibility for Florida's geographical outreach to the neighboring world.

Neil Sullivan, Interim Dean
<sullivan@phys.ufl.edu>

Photo:
Jane Dominguez

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