In his book The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman writes about the forces that have leveled the playing field for competitors in today’s globalized economy. I saw some of those forces, which Friedman calls “flatteners,” at work when I traveled to China recently as part of a delegation from Central State University.
The purpose of our trip was to explore opportunities to develop agreements with Chinese institutions of higher education that would enable the transfer and exchange of students and faculty between CSU and Chinese partner institutions.
Central State University www.centralstate.edu
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John W. Garland, President, CSU
At one institution we visited, TEDA Polytechnic, near the city of Tianjin in northern China, we witnessed students diagnosing and repairing cell phones for Motorola, which contracts with TEDA to perform this task. There, in one room, were a number of playing-field flatteners in operation: outsourcing, insourcing, personal digital devices like mobile phones. Motorola itself represents another flattener: off-shoring. It is one of the scores of foreign companies with operational bases in TEDA, a state-sponsored economic development area. These flatteners and others identified by Friedman have opened up a new world of economic opportunity for people around the globe.
They have also presented challenges to countries like the U.S., that have long held the competitive advantage in world commerce. That advantage has eroded in a global economy that outsources the diagnosis or repair of your cell phone to a classroom full of students in China because they can do it just as well as someone closer to home, and more economically. If America is to remain competitive in the global marketplace, we must ensure that the young people we are training in our colleges and universities are prepared to compete with their counterparts in fast growing, dynamic countries like China and India.
For Central State that means increasing the number of young people graduating with degrees in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. It also means providing opportunities for our students to broaden their understanding of the world and its people through study abroad programs and other cross-cultural experiences. This will help them navigate more easily in the multicultural, multilingual, multiethnic environment of the global marketplace.
While at TEDA we signed an agreement that paves the way for us to create programs that would allow the mutual transfer of students between our institutions. We also anticipate developing similar agreements with other universities we visited.
We are excited about the – agreements like those we are developing in China will open up for our students. They will help build a more competitive workforce, benefiting not only our students but also our country and the world.
4 CENTRAL STATE UNIVERSITY
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