Founded to help shape Cornell’s international programs and policies, the International Council also develop guidelines that tackle Cornell’s ongoing foray into the international realm.

Alicia Wang / Sun Graphics Editor

Founded to help shape Cornell’s international programs and policies, the International Council also develop guidelines that tackle Cornell’s ongoing foray into the international realm.

November 22, 2019

International Council Releases Guidelines to Protect Academic Freedom and International Collaboration

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Corrections appended.

Cornell’s International Council, a team headed by the vice provost for international affairs with the mission to bridge Cornell with the rest of the world, released its guidelines on ethical international engagement last Thursday, calling upon the minds of leaders from each college and school to develop a cohesive guide to international collaboration.

Launched in October 2013, the Council is tasked with elevating initiatives to advance a global mission within Cornell — for example, by attempting to internationalize college curriculums.

Founded to help shape Cornell’s international programs and policies, the International Council also develop guidelines that tackle Cornell’s ongoing foray into the international realm.

“Cornell has so many international collaborations, and we realized the need for guidance to our faculty in choosing international partners,” said Prof. Wendy Wolford, sociology, who is the head of the Council.

The guidelines aim to allow faculty to collaborate with research partners “in areas of the world where certain forms of speech and expression may be prohibited or limited, while still protecting academic freedom,” according to a letter co-authored by Mike Kotlikoff, Cornell’s provost, and Wolford.

“Potential responses are varied and wide-ranging, from dialogue-based responses to amendment of the terms of the program or termination of the program and relationship,” read the guidelines in regards to concerns on violations of academic freedom.

Last November, Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations suspended its exchange program with China’s Renmin University because of the growing academic freedom restrictions on the Chinese part, The Sun previously reported.

“The guidelines also remind us that we are not alone when making difficult decisions and can seek help in ensuring that our international collaborations reflect and promote our institutional values and commitments,” said Prof. Elizabeth Brundige, law, who serves as the chair of the subcommittee tasked with advising on the guidelines.

The released directive also strives to promote solidarity as well as collaboration with Cornell partners which ensures diplomacy, respect and an opportunity to “listen to” and “learn” from international partners, the guidelines state.

Brundige was previously awarded the Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellowship and served as an associate legal officer in the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Also among the council are Prof. Max Pfeffer, development sociology, and Prof. Eli Friedman, industrial and labor relations.

“As faculty members or college-level administrators, we sometimes confront ethical challenges when engaging internationally, from concerns about academic freedom to issues of human rights to the need to consider potential unintended consequences,” the guidelines read.

“What to do when such challenges arise is not always clear. It will be valuable to turn to these guidelines, and the core values that underpin them, when creating new partnerships or weighing potential responses to problems that develop in existing relationships,” Brundige said.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Prof. Elizabeth Brundige as the chair of the International Council. In fact, she is the chair of the International Council subcommittee tasked with advising on the guidelines. The article also incorrectly attributed the guidelines quoted in the second-to-last paragraph to Brundige, when in fact, it did not come from her personally.