President Michael F. Adams on UGA’s international connections
Q: Han Park is perhaps the best-known UGA faculty member on the international scene. How does it benefit UGA to have someone with his experience on campus?
A: Dr. Park would be the first to tell you that he is one of many UGA faculty with a broad portfolio of international credentials. What they all bring to UGA is a strong international reputation and credibility, a deeper appreciation for our overall academic programs and a terrific resource for the people of Georgia about the state of the world.
Q: How does his role as an unofficial ambassador to North Korea fit in with the university’s efforts to increase students’ understanding of international affairs?
A: Well, it’s particularly important because North Korea, right now, is an area of the world that is perceived to be volatile, and it takes a very rare, well-wired person to be a liaison to the North Korean regime. In many ways, Dr. Park has established a set of relationships with people, organizations and governments in that region that few if any others outside of that region have been able to accomplish. He has been a positive broker in an honest way, and I believe that he has helped make the world a much safer place in the process.
Q: How does The Center for the Study of Global Issues (Globis) enhance UGA’s academic programs?
A: I have had the pleasure of traveling with Dr. Park and with other UGA Globis scholars to locations all across the world. I particularly remember a time being with Han in Asia holding court with some of our wide-eyed students, marveling as Dr. Park talked about the growing impact of the Pacific Rim and the immense importance China plays in the global market. With the challenges we have faced with Korea and now the challenges facing Japan, along with the dramatic economic and national security impact Southeast Asia has on the United States, the experiences that Globis and other UGA programs provide our students broaden their horizons because of the exposure they receive.
Q: Has Globis become more relevant in recent years as Asian nations have become more powerful economically?
A: Absolutely. The entire Pacific Crescent is an area to which my children and grandchildren will have to pay more attention—more so than many of us who grew up with a very Western-based perspective have ever had to. Dr. Park and others at UGA are especially well positioned to speak about these things. Also, what we are doing in the Terry College with the international business programs will help our students prepare to deal with the very powerful economic changes ahead.
Q: Are there other countries or areas of the world that UGA needs to focus on through Globis or another center?
A: Two areas where we have not been as active are South America and Africa, although we are increasingly investing in programs in those continents. The growing economic might of Brazil, for instance, makes it a major competitor to our agricultural interests, and that will only increase. It is one of the reasons why our UGA Costa Rica programs are so important. The university’s reach into Africa in countries like Liberia, Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania is greater than most alumni probably realize. I have had the chance to travel to programs in both Africa and South America where we have UGA students, and I truly believe that both of those places will become more important to our economic success as the world moves forward.