Tour de Academe – Individual pathways to a shared journey

While driving to the Roanoke airport this morning to catch my flight to Dulles and then Paris, I knew that our Tour de Academe had finally begun.  But in reality, the journey actually began some months ago as the Global Perspectives – Graduate Deans program was conceptualized, the itinerary developed and individual decisions were made to participate.  Although titled GP Graduate Deans, the individuals in this shared journey include graduate deans (of course), the organizers and hosts of our Tour de Academe visits, and the Global Perspectives Program (GPP) alumni from VT and UniBasel.

The individual pathways were set.  Some would bring family.  Some would travel solo.  Collectively, we would travel by car, bus, train, metro and airplane and arrive from many different places.  By now, some have already left their home place.  Many are traveling today as I am.  And some are preparing for departure in a few days to arrive for the Graduate Deans/GPP alumni event in Riva San Vitale in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland.

Today I could almost sense and did visualize the movement of the individuals toward our shared journey.  Different places, different times, and different pathways leading to the shared experience.  Each of us will leave our homes and work places and travel toward a common place called Paris – the Latin Quarter and the Hotel called Maxim to start our shared journey on Sunday, July 22, 2012.  This portion is the Graduate Deans journey and we will be joined by colleagues from the EUA and universities in Paris, Strasbourg, Basel, and Zurich.  They too are a part of the shared global perspective experience in that we can learn from each other as we engage to understand global higher education.  And along the way, we meet and interact with those we know and those we can only observe in the spaces in which we interact (streets of Paris, trains, restaurants and more).  We observe the culture, the cuisine, the building (windows and doors), Swiss Alps, towns, cities, lakes, and more.  These too are important components of the global experience.  The shared journey will culminate at VT’s Center for European Studies and Architecture (CESA) and will be enriched through the reflections and interactions of GPP alumni from VT and UniBasel who will travel along their unique pathways to reach our shared space.

The place and time are set – the program is in motion.  We await the arrival of the participants who will come and go throughout the journey.  Although this program will last but a week, but the journey toward global perspectives will continue.  As Lukas said of the 2012 GPP Basel experience, the program ends but the process continues.