The Buffett Institute held an open house on Tuesday evening, with students and faculty ready to begin a new year of global engagement, community events and student collaboration.
The Institute is dedicated to solving global problems through collaborative research, public dialogue and engaged scholarship. The Institute was made possible by the Bertie Buffett endowment, a $101 million gift made in January of 2015 to support global studies and fund scholarships for international students.
At the event, Bruce Carruthers, the Director of the Buffett Institute, announced the recruitment of Christopher Udry, a professor of economics at Yale University. Udry will join the Institute next year to start a Center for Development Economics.
“This is the kind of appointment that puts Northwestern University and the Buffett Institute on the map as a leader in development economics,” Carruthers said.
The Institute is also opening up two new research groups focused on climate change and global medical cultures.
Sophomore Carolina Laguna, who attended the open house, said she is excited for the new academic year.
“As a Buffett Center affiliate, I’m excited to start up the year, especially looking at all the fall quarter events,” Laguna said. “I’m particularly excited about the event on colonialism in Hawaii, and I’m excited to get some more background on that later in the fall.”
Faculty lunches are a highlight of the Buffett Institute, allowing students and staff to converse about global topics. Senior Apran Doshi said that this is one of his favorite parts of the Institute.
“The Buffett Institute is one of the best programs at Northwestern, they have an incredible array of events, faculty lunches are incredibly popular amongst undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members as well and I learn something new every week thanks to that,” Doshi said.
The Buffett Institute is also well known for its global outreach programs, made possible by its sizable endowment. Sophomore Jessica Saffold took advantage of one of programs over the summer.
“I think the Buffett Institute is amazing in that it provides students with unique opportunities they wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere, including the Global Engagement Studies Institute program, which I participated in this summer,” Saffold said. “GESI allowed me to go to Kenya this year for two months and work at a nonprofit to see how development work happens abroad and I learned a ton. I may want to pursue it as a career now. It was an awesome opportunity.”
During the open house, Carruthers also expressed a desire to have a calmer year. This comes after the appointment General Karl Eikenberry as the new Executive Director of the Global Studies Institute last year. This later fell through after questions were brought up about his qualifications and negative view of the humanities and social sciences. Many erupted over his military background, with 42 faculty members signing a letter declaring him unfit for the job.
“The storyline of this upcoming year is going to be simple; we’re going to continue to expand on all the programming and activities that were made possible by the big Bertie Buffett gift,” Carruthers said. “But I’m hoping we will be able to do so without an intense political battle hanging over our heads, and I’m not talking about the presidential debates. We’re looking forward to a year where there’s a little less political grief and a little more positive activity, and that is something that I’ll personally value very much.”