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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

Northwestern University Global Strategic Plan

Northwestern’s Global Strategic Plan, currently in draft form, articulates university-wide priorities that will help us become the standard-bearer of the global university, known for innovation through collaboration, long-term and reciprocal institutional partnerships, and sustainable impact. It builds on a decade of extensive work across the University, elaborating on our remarkable achievements and global reputation in numerous fields. With this plan, Northwestern will define the global university for the next generation.

Why this work is important globally

Beyond the walls of the university we face critical and urgent global challenges –from environmental degradation to rising inequality to loss of confidence in democratic institutions. These problems are identified through the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) that provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. These problems are complex, multifaceted issues that cannot be solved without partnerships across disciplines, nations and institutions. Together with global partners, Northwestern will field multidisciplinary teams to address them.

Why this work is important for Northwestern

Northwestern’s global reputation, engagement and impact are vital to our success in achieving our global mission to pursue the highest degree of research and teaching excellence by bringing together the world’s brightest minds to address critical global challenges best solved through multidisciplinary, transnational collaboration. Northwestern’s students, talent base, resource pool, and the problems we address are already global. While we enjoy a top-10 domestic ranking, we are relative newcomers to the international stage, lagging behind some of our national peers. With this plan, we will create a blueprint for Northwestern to be known as the university that learns from and serves the world.

Leading the Effort

The Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs (Northwestern Buffett) is spearheading the process of bringing more than 10 years of the university’s global planning to a fruitful conclusion. Led by Executive Director Annelise Riles, Northwestern Buffett develops, aligns, and champions Northwestern University’s global strategy and engagement. The institute serves as a secretariat for institutional partnerships by bringing together students, faculty, and experts from across the university and world to learn from one another and collaboratively address critical global challenges.

The Global Strategic Plan

Our plan is built on two pillars of collaboration: across the university and around the world. Collaboratively, we will work to address the UN SDGs and create a Global Alliance of partnerships with key universities. Through the Alliance we will share teaching resources and opportunities, research and innovation, and access to international resource and talent pools, library and museum collections and classroom or research space. We will create clear benchmarks for our goals, identify responsible parties for each and publicize our progress on a yearly basis.

Engagement is Key

We invite you to engage in this vital process by visiting the Northwestern Global Strategic Planning website. If you have questions or comments, please contact Meghan Ozaroski, Associate Director, Strategic Initiatives, at

Visit the Global Planning Website