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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

A Message from the Executive Director

Annelise RilesIn thinking about my time at Northwestern as Associate Provost for Global Affairs I am filled with gratitude for all of you who have gone out of your way to join the movement to accelerate Northwestern’s transformation into a truly global university.

Over 200 faculty, staff, students and alumni representing all of Northwestern’s schools joined the Northwestern Global Strategic Planning process. People woke up early to join us for breakfast meetings to talk about key priority areas within the strategic plan, like Impactful Global Research and Strategic Global Partnerships. Faculty stayed late at their offices in Qatar to join conversations on the role of NU-Q in Northwestern’s global strategy. A dedicated group even went to Chicago’s City Hall during the very early morning hours to discuss the many new ways that Northwestern and our global alumni can work together.

In these meetings we have discussed the barriers to globalization — we all know that there are plenty of hurdles to jump. But together we challenged ourselves to think bigger, to imagine what would be possible if all of us pulled together in order to make a difference at this university and around the world.

Together, we have imagined what the multilingual university of the future could look like. We have looked at new ways of incentivize researchers and students to learn about and address the greatest challenges of our time, using the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a framework. We have dreamed about how to create a campus where international students can feel at home. We have worked to define what equitable partnerships could look like so that our global partnerships are fulfilling and nourishing on all sides of the collaboration.

Doing this work takes a lot of dedication, and a lot of courage. Thank you to all of you who have helped create the momentum we need to be successful. If you have joined one of our strategic planning contact groups, attended a Partnership Lunch, planned or participated in an Idea Dialogue, joined the Idea Incubation Workshop, served on our Global Council or Faculty Advisory Council, given a talk through our Faculty and Fellows Series, joined a digital forum through Meridian 180, contributed to one of our Global Working Groups or donated funds to support this work, then you are part of this movement, and you are part of our quest to pursue peace and justice in the world.

Because of you, I know that all that we imagine will be possible. Thank you.

As always, I am grateful for your ideas and feedback. Please email me at