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GTI Hosts Fulbright American Security Seminar

NC State’s longstanding relationship with the Fulbright Scholar Program continues to grow through the university’s Global Training Initiative (GTI). In December, GTI hosted nearly 90 international Fulbright Scholars for a Fulbright American Security Seminar, covering topics ranging from food security to cybersecurity.

The U.S. Department of State and the Institute for International Education sponsored “American Security: Integrating Multiple Perspectives,” in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The event gave international researchers the opportunity to learn from some of the country’s foremost experts in these areas. This included faculty in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (with Dr. Dmitri Mitin serving as academic director), executives from RTI International and PowerAmerica, and representatives from the Department of Agriculture and NC Department of Emergency Management.

“Security issues cannot be understood — or solved — in isolation,” said Michael Bustle, GTI director and associate vice provost for the Office of Global Engagement. “What happens in one security area or world region affects others. It is up to higher education leaders and the scientific community to spark the conversation and negotiate approaches to integrated solutions.”

Visiting scholars learned about policymaking at the local and global level; local and grass-roots responses to energy concerns, food insecurity, and disaster relief; national efforts in these areas; global security trends; public-private collaboration and more. They discussed pollution rights and how to identify shared research goals and finding the intersection of security interests for their specific areas of research.

Participants also saw local and state-level security solutions in action at NC State, and in visits to Duke Energy’s Harris Energy and Environmental Education Center, the North Carolina State Emergency Management Headquarters and the Raleigh branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

“GTI seeks to connect international professionals to our campus and community resources to strengthen their knowledge base, and to introduce students and scholars to the extension work we’re doing at NC State,” said Melissa Edwards Smith, GTI’s international programs coordinator. “We share our ideas while learning new perspectives on security issues from international guests. We all benefit from opportunities for collaboration, but most importantly we get to connect on a human level.”

These connections represent a crucial factor in making the important work of security-related agencies possible. For example, the NC Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Management division must act quickly in preparing for and responding to a natural disaster. NC State researchers, along with a wide network of agencies, engage in swiftly mobilizing a plan of action that disseminates information and ultimately saves lives.

“We all tend to work in silos, but even if we are doing great work, having the chance to cross-fertilize is key for bringing forth new ideas and reducing the duplication of services,” said Smith. “The need for collaboration among professionals was certainly brought into focus when it comes to areas of security. It was a way to remind us that it’s impossible to address real-life concerns without developing a network that you can rely on to do their part.”

The Fulbright seminar is one of the many ways that NC State in general, and GTI in particular, equips scholars for leadership in security and other areas. GTI maintains a unique ability to develop customized programming for international partners — such as the visiting Fulbright scholars — along with NC State students, faculty and staff, to help them gain global competency skills through training and international program offerings.

“We encourage everyone to Think and Do both up and out, in our community and around the world,” said Bustle. “It is not enough anymore to have great skills and training in a specific discipline — we must learn to work effectively on a global scale. Will our faculty, staff, students and alumni be prepared to understand and engage with people different from themselves? This is the challenge — and the joy — of our work.”

Learn more about GTI’s custom training programs.