Harvard Business School recently announced the opening of a new classroom in Mumbai, India. The space, designed to mirror Business School classrooms in Boston, will house the school’s executive education programs in India, allowing Harvard to establish a permanent presence in South Asia. This classroom is but the latest addition to the Business School regional centers scattered across the globe, from Europe to Latin America to Japan.
The Crimson is pleased to see that Harvard is continuing its efforts to expand internationally and become a truly global institution. We are by no means the only American university to seek new horizons in this manner. To mention just a few examples, New York University inaugurated its Abu Dhabi campus in 2010, and Cornell’s Weill Medical College maintains an outpost in Doha, Qatar. As higher education becomes global, host countries can only benefit, and we are glad that Harvard is leading in this positive trend.
It goes without saying that American universities can provide foreign countries with a valuable service by establishing operations abroad. The graduates of such institutions can enjoy the benefits of an education comparable to one that they would receive in the United States without having to face the significant barriers, financial and otherwise, that international students must often overcome.
Some have charged that as American universities expand transnationally, they may merely replicate the structures of colonialism in an attempt to gain profit and reputation. This concern should be dismissed; Harvard and its peers are not guided by the mistakes of the past but by a vision of the future. It is true that Western values may clash against local traditions on Harvard’s foreign satellites. But insofar as these traditions involve homophobia, religious intolerance, or other attitudes we would not tolerate in Cambridge, such a clash can lead to positive change.
For all the progress Harvard has made internationally in recent years—much of it dating from Larry Summers’ tenure as president, such as the expansion of study abroad options for undergraduates—more remains to be done. One field in which the University lags is online education, which has the potential to reach far more than any satellite campus expansion could. Harvard should consider developing a system like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s MITx Project, which is set to debut soon and will offer some sort of accreditation. Such a system of online learning could be used to promote the liberal arts abroad, in places where higher education remains largely professional. Harvard remains, at its core, a liberal arts institution, and this is one of the most valuable legacies we can share with the world.
Globalization has altered the world in unexpected ways, and it will surely bring more change in years to come. If Harvard is to remain relevant as one of the premiere institutions of higher learning in the world, it must keep up with the times. Because of this, we firmly support the University’s efforts at international expansion.