In early February, I wrote you to announce the launch of AU Project 2030, an ambitious, faculty-driven effort to identify a few groundbreaking areas in which AU can, through strategic hiring and investment, come to be recognized as among the very best in the field, both nationally and internationally. More specifically, I invited you to look beyond the bounds of your discipline and academic unit to imagine emerging areas in which our schools and colleges, working together, can propel AU to new levels of distinction in 2020, 2030 and beyond.
I am pleased to report that you have responded to this call with great passion, imagination and foresight. The AU Project 2030 website (www.american.edu/au2030) currently boasts some 25 individual proposals and 131 constructive comments, from a wide range of AU faculty. I can imagine no more telling sign of our common commitment to our Strategic Plan’s mandate to fully engage the great issues of our time than the dialogue you will find there.
Over the past 10 days, the deans and I have carefully considered the submitted proposals with an eye toward creating a short list of strategic areas for further discussion. Here, in alphabetical order, is that short list:
Decision Science for Policy
Global Disability Policy, Technology and Education
Global Economic and Financial Governance
In most cases, these areas will need to be further refined and narrowed as we work to identify specific niches in which the AU of the future will be identified as a global leader. It is worth noting, however, that several of these broad areas easily encompass AU 2030 proposals seemingly not on this list. For example, the basic thrust of the proposals on poverty, gender analysis and global equality could well be subsumed into further discussions around the concept of human security, or the proposals on political risk analysis and info-metrics into the dialogue on decision science for policy. I have referred several other proposals—such as those for entrepreneurship and innovation or US History and Foreign Policy—to the relevant dean(s) for further consideration.
There is still much work to be done before the deans and I can be confident that we have precisely identified a small number of key areas for strategic hiring and related investment. We need to sharpen and (in most cases) narrow our focus in select areas; conduct benchmarking surveys to assure ourselves that this sharpened focus is indeed distinctive; and—above all—assure ourselves that we have the requisite faculty strength and leadership to succeed in the identified areas. To this end, we will be holding 3-hour planning workshops for each of the six areas listed above on May 14th and 15th—i.e., on the Monday and Tuesday immediately following Commencement weekend for most of our schools. I will be sending you shortly a precise schedule for these workshops, with instructions on how to sign up. In the meantime, please save these dates and plan on attending one or more workshops in areas congruent with your scholarly expertise.
Many thanks for your good efforts thus far on behalf of the stronger AU we will leave to future generations of scholars and students. I look forward to our future discussions.