Chancellor and Vice-Chairman Nicholas Dirks Made the Case for Globalized Education in Asia Society Lecture

Dirks gives a speech at Asia Society Hong Kong Center

Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor and Vice-Chairman of Whittle School & Studios, made the case for globalized educational models in a lecture titled “Globalization: A New Beginning with Education at Its Core,” at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center on May 3, 2019.

In response to a rise in anti-globalization sentiment in higher education and political discourse, particularly in his home country of the United States, Dirks sounded a rallying cry for deepening global integration. His speech focused on the role that individual educational institutions, as well as the sector as a whole, play in furthering that vital cause.

Dirks gives a speech at Asia Society Hong Kong Center
Dirks gives a speech at Asia Society Hong Kong Center


“In my view, educational exchanges, collaborations, and networks increase international understanding as well as create life-changing personal relationships. The more understanding we have in this world, the better off we will be,” said Dirks, who is also a Professor of History and Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Speaking at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center’s iconic Admiralty location, Dirks emphasized the importance of taking globalized approaches to tackling global problems, such as climate change, inequality, and pandemic disease. 

Dirks also noted that Chinese higher education institutions such as Tsinghua University are expanding their integration and collaboration efforts with their global counterparts. Tsinghua became the No. 1 university in Asia according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, displacing the National University of Singapore as a result, he said.

Additionally, Dirks detailed the ways in which Whittle Schools & Studios is a leading example of globalization in the K–12 sector: “We are working to ensure that we will not just educate new generations of global citizens, but also create a model for a global institution that is deeply embedded in each of its locales while spreading its wings across the globe.”

Previously, the former university chancellor had attempted to launch the Berkeley Global Campus, along with a restructuring program that would see the internationally renowned university arranged along more globally focused lines. However, he said the plan was met with obstructive mind-sets. Yet it was because of this experience that he decided to join Whittle School & Studios, to build “a genuinely global network of K–12 schools,” he added.