- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

A new, congressionally financed research center at George Washington University will try to weigh the pros and cons of globalization for university students and the American public.
The Center for the Study of Globalization is one of the first of its kind in the country and the first in the metropolitan Washington area to devote itself entirely to the relatively new, but controversial issue of globalization.
Globalization is defined by some as the interdependence of the world's nations in terms of financial, economic, trade and social development.
"Some view globalization in a positive way, and others in a negative way," said John Forrer, director of the center. "I would like the center to be in a territory where debate between these two views can be carried out," he added.
In the past few years, the country has seen violent protests against international bodies, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, for their treatment of poor nations.
"Protestors tend to be so broadly critical," said Mr. Forrer, adding that critics of globalization often do not address its complexity.
The center will attempt to do just that, he said, starting with three projects that will examine the effects of globalization on governments, investment and information technology.
The center at GWU has partnerships with the IMF and the World Bank and recently invited speakers from these institutions to address a conference on its campus. In the future, courses in fields ranging from women's studies to international finance will be designed to incorporate globalization.
"There will also be seminars and opportunities to bring in speakers on various issues related to globalization," said Associate Vice President Carol Sigelman, who worked on setting up the university's center.
Creators of the center said they will not take a stand either for or against globalization. Ms. Sigelman said the center's mission is education. "We will do an objective analysis of globalization, not taking a stand as or against advocates," she said.
The 21 faculty members, who received research grants from the center, are investigating topics ranging from the effect of globalization on minority employment to its role in the control and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Theodore Barnhill, chairman of the university's finance department, is involved in a project for the center that focuses on modeling the risk level of banks operating in Latin American countries, such as Brazil.
"Understanding how to measure risks that financial institutions face is a very important step. It allows you to take proactive steps to minimize potential adverse effects," he said.
The center is part of a Globalization Research Network, which received a $2.5 million one-year grant from Congress. The network includes the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of South Florida, which will collaborate on research and public education issues. In the future, they plan to exchange students and develop courses together, Mr. Forrer said.
At the end of the one-year period, the center will be seeking additional aid from Congress for the next five years, Mr. Forrer said, after which he hopes to secure funding from other sources.

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