Welcome from the Director
by Hendrik Spruyt
Once again we stand at the beginning of an exciting year at Buffett. I would particularly like to welcome those new to Northwestern and those who have yet to become acquainted with the Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies.
The Buffett Center is named after Roberta “Bertie” Buffett Elliott who studied at Northwestern. When she was a student—shall we say several years back—there were relatively few opportunities to experience the wider world. Studying at Northwestern at that time basically meant that education and student life were regionally focused or nationally focused at best. Following her goal and the administration’s objective to give students a greater exposure to the current global environment, the Center aims to provide faculty, students and the larger Northwestern community the means to explore and to study the world beyond Evanston.
Thus, as an umbrella organization for “all things international,” we reach out to all of the 9 schools and the many departments that make up Northwestern University.
The Center sponsors a dozen research working groups on critical issue areas as genocide, international law and security studies. Some of the working groups have a regional focus, such as East Asia and Latin America. The Center is also the administrative home to, among others, the French Interdisciplinary Group (FIG), the Program of African Studies (PAS), and the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA). With support from Lester Crown, the Center has also been able to help studies of the Middle East and North Africa. We bring together over 150 faculty members of whom slightly over half come from Weinberg College with the remainder coming from other schools.
This interdisciplinary focus extends to the work the Center does with undergraduate and graduate students. Our student affiliates show a similarly diverse profile. We are particularly proud of our Center for Global Engagement, and it’s Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI), which brings more than 60 students to developing countries. Students explore how theoretical training and experiential practice come together in the field. We also support numerous undergraduate groups to do research, to bring in speakers and to present their own work.
The Center continues to run successful summer study abroad programs to Turkey and the Czech Republic. Our success in developing interests in modern Turkey is in no small measure made possible by the generosity of some of our other sponsors, in particular Mr. and Mrs. Keyman and Mr. and Mrs. Gencer.
At the graduate level, the Buffett Center supports multiple colloquia and seminars. In addition, we fund approximately 30 graduate students with summer research support to develop their dissertation projects. Here again, interdisciplinarity and cross field research is our motto. Our support thus ranges from students in performance studies, to the social sciences, humanities and the natural sciences.
Finally, as always, we will continue to host our Faculty & Fellows Colloquium on Fridays, as well as dozens of speaking engagements, workshops and conferences. Simply put, the Buffett Center hopes to be your focal point for comparative and international studies across all disciplines.
I have but given a glimpse of all that the Center will be doing this year. Whether we will succeed in our mission, however, will depend on you. I thus invite you to check our website for more information, and sincerely hope you join us for events, talks and other occasions.
Welcome to Northwestern, welcome in particular to the Buffett Center, and I wish a banner year to all our friends. ♦