Global thinking benefits universities and state of Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana's opportunities for growth on a national and global level come with encouraging talent to come and stay in-state and engage with the community, a panel of scholars at the Indiana University School of Global and International Studies' third annual America's Role in the World conference said Thursday.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie standing at the podiumView print quality image
IU President Michael A. McRobbie addresses the conference attendees before the panel discussion. Photo by Ann Schertz

IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel moderated the panel of speakers during the Indiana in the World session, which began with remarks from IU President Michael A. McRobbie and featured Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Indiana; Blair Milo, secretary of Indiana Career Connections and Talent; Pacers Sports and Entertainment Vice Chairman James T. Morris; and Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis.

McRobbie began by discussing some of IU's recent accomplishments on a global level. IU Bloomington is ranked seventh in the nation for study abroad and 19th for most international students, with students coming from about 150 countries across the world. 

Freeman-Wilson, who arrived in Bloomington after a trip to Canada, said Indiana's international push by all institutions makes Indiana competitive on the world stage.

"We have world-class educational institutions," she said. "Not only IU but all over the state, large and small."

Freeman-Wilson also said that Indiana's efforts to nurture thinking in a global sense is a bipartisan issue.

The panelists agreed that welcoming talent from across the world -- and overcoming negative perceptions of how they will be received -- is key to boosting the state's economy.

"Once they get here, they just love being in Indiana," Morris said. "They love the opportunity. They're welcomed. They're greeted."

Indiana also has the educational clout to back this up, he added. There's a deeper reason that companies like Amazon are strongly considering opening offices in Indianapolis.

"The reason the business leaders are making Indianapolis a city to come to is because our higher education institutions are producing such extraordinary graduates," Morris said. "From informatics here, from engineering at Purdue, from cyber engineering here."

A panel of experts sits on stage during the America's Role in the World conferenceView print quality image
Panelists discuss Indiana's role in the world during the recent America's Role in the World conference. Photo by Ann Schertz

Maintaining strong employment opportunities will help retain workers from all over the world, the panelists agreed.

"What people think about where they live and work is important to their well-being," Merisotis said.

In an increasingly globalized world and workforce, job seekers are looking beyond their home states and even beyond their home countries. But unless Indiana continues to expand its talent base, it cannot be successful in attracting such workers, Milo said.

Milo said she feels confident that Indiana has the opportunity to compete with global hotspots like London and Tokyo. A key first step is sharing the state's successes, so job seekers know what the state has to offer.

"There are great opportunities to be had (elsewhere), but I believe that Indiana can compete with all those cities to be able to offer a tremendous opportunity -- a lifestyle for individuals and families with all ages here," she said. "It's inherent on us to think about how we attract individuals, whether you have the great fortune to be born a Hoosier or not, to be able to come here and be part of all we have to offer."