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Local Thought, Global Action

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By UCLA Chancellor Gene Block

Published Jul 1, 2015 8:00 AM


Leaders and scholars around the world look to UCLA for the next breakthroughs and new trends. UCLA faculty, alumni and students set the pace in an increasingly interconnected world, driven by exciting new advances and fresh possibilities.

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Photo by Amanda Friedman

Inside a massive underground tunnel below Geneva, Switzerland, UCLA physics researchers have helped connect 100 million components from more than 100 institutions spread across the world as part of the Large Hadron Collider project — a project that in only a few years has produced exciting insights into subatomic physics.

Such a complicated collaborative endeavor would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago. But physics professors Robert Cousins, Jay Hauser and David Saltzberg, the lead UCLA researchers on the Large Hadron Collider project, exemplify our research faculty’s broad international experience as time and again they work to take on the world’s greatest challenges.

The global impact of our faculty is one reason why UCLA is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world by organizations that evaluate the international prestige of institutions of higher learning.

Our faculty and students are engaged in strategic planning in Brazil, globalization in China, renewable energy in Denmark and diplomacy in Jordan, to name but a few examples. In fact, UCLA has built a deep and extensive network of partnerships with 115 universities worldwide and has programs in 42 countries, from Barbados to Botswana, India to Israel, and Singapore to Spain.

This is not about simple tourism, photo ops or adventures in “exotic” lands. In this issue alone, you will read about Bruins producing cutting-edge physics in Switzerland, recording primate behavior in Costa Rica and preserving an ancient language of Jews of the Mediterranean. These endeavors all across the world form links between the distant past and the promising future, raising possibilities for preserving and rebuilding. This is what a world-class university does — drawing from, engaging with and contributing to the entire world.

Here at home, our multiethnic, multicultural UCLA community boasts a vibrant international presence. More than 10,000 international students and scholars — from more than 100 countries, speaking dozens of languages and engaged in more than 125 courses of study — have made UCLA their intellectual home. More than 16,000 students from outside the United States applied for admission during the past year alone. This multiplicity of backgrounds, interests, skills and voices makes UCLA a microcosm of our city and our world.

Our diversity and global outlook give UCLA enormous scope, influence and prestige. Scholars and leaders across the globe look to us to make the next breakthroughs and set new trends in medicine, the arts, economics and beyond.

Much of this work relies on the ability of different individuals and institutions to collaborate successfully. The enormous complexity and unprecedented degree of interdependency in projects like the Large Hadron Collider will increasingly become the norm for science, business, diplomacy, development, human rights, the arts and more. Success in that environment will be determined not only by our own skills, but also by how well we have developed our capacity for intercultural fluency and cooperation. Those wise enough to have developed those talents at UCLA will have an edge.

Today’s UCLA students will be leaders in an increasingly interconnected world, where exciting new advances must contend with ancient prejudices, new possibilities must confront enduring inequalities, and opportunities and challenges never before imagined will drive their pursuits.

Today’s UCLA alumni are making a difference on every continent on the planet. The education we provide and the connections our faculty, students and staff make in Los Angeles and around the world will influence and enrich the educational experience at UCLA for future generations of students.

Whether shaping the science of tomorrow or preserving the culture of the past, the world-class, global university we have built together will continue to be a hub of experimentation and innovation, arts and inquiry, discovery and excitement. Each of those things is an enduring source of Bruin Pride.

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