Leadership, the Most Important Issue

One may be tempted to discuss a specific event or phenomenon as the most pressing of all issues facing this and other countries; however, such an assertion ignores the actual matter of international importance that is the underlier for all other problems. Actions take leaders to spur them on, and leadership is the key missing in the metaphorical chain of progress and agreement. Myriad personal leadership experiences, especially in Scouting, have revealed to me that a course correction in the leadership sphere will align much else for subsequent signals of reconciliation and negotiation.

All too often, individuals believe that holding their own staunch position on a certain topic will garner more votes or popularity than actually coming to the middle and discussing the factors and tribulations of a problem. That technique has produced significant results which, without an act of responsible gumption, would not have been possible. I am especially influenced by a success that President George H.W. Bush had with his desire for unilateral support in the Persian Gulf War. War at that time was extremely unpopular due in large part to the disaster in Vietnam and lack of leadership and transparency. With Saddam Hussein in Kuwait and the United Nations acting hesitantly, President Bush organized a twenty-five state military effort that others were afraid to perform because of a limited chance for success. His successes centered on openness in communication to the international community and drive to complete only his limited initial goals. Thus, military actions can be well executed with leadership. So too can any policy. The universal ‘failure to lead’ syndrome has become all too contagious and translates into inaction on pressing global issues.

I have considered others’ alternatives to the most pressing concerns: global warming, terrorism, economic matters, and healthcare. All seem to be issues that can be solved with a compromise on policy. The only difficult action is that of being the Senator or Representative who decides to forgo popular opinion and seek a compromise position. Therein lies the largest aspect of leadership and the one that is most lacking in society. Someone is responsible for making the initial breakthrough, no matter how vilified, for the good of humanity. President Bush took such a step toward negotiation and limited agreeable action with his maneuvers in the Persian Gulf War, but those leaders are few today.

Yes, some individuals do propose ideas to solve problems, but they hold to what is best them, ruling their own separate dominions, without finding the center. To be sure, work most often is accomplished in the center, and all other pressing problems could fall into this sphere eventually with some effort from the opposing sides. As a leader who does his best to find this conciliatory ground, I submit that making an attempt at leading this world in a positive, not a right or left direction, will produce surprisingly effective legislation and results. However, for many, that first seemingly impossible step toward the center simply takes too much courage.

Globalization: An Opportunity for Higher Education?

Globalization is a hot topic in the media and in business these days. The Levin Institute at the State University of New York defines globalization as “a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology” [1]. The Internet has been one of those information technology innovations that has ushered in a new era of global communications and commerce. It has enabled call centers in India, for instance, to service calls for clients originating anywhere in the world at hyper-competitive rates. Globalization has redefined entire industries and the web has lead the revolution in many cases.

Now consider what the Internet has done for higher education. Today, it’s possible for someone to complete an entire degree program from practically anywhere on the planet as long as there’s access to a computer and a network connection. Whether you’re a busy professional or a stay-at-home mother, there’s no reason why you can’t have access to a decent college education. This should come as no surprise unless you have been living isolated from technology. Why does this warrant another look? The cost of education is growing at an unsustainable pace. This inflationary pressure has given many reason for pause and reflection causing some to fore-go college altogether. This is especially troublesome for the knowledge economy that depends on a highly educated work force.

According to the College Board, in the United States 2011-12 school year, the average cost of in-state tuition at a four-year public university is $8,244 USD, or a 7.0% increase from the previous year. Based on this estimate, assuming one graduates within 4 years, the total cost of a college education will be $32,976 USD (or $41,220 USD for 5 years). Tuition has increased at an average rate of 5.6% per year above the general rate of inflation in the United States during the last decade and shows no sign of abatement [2]. The global recession has forced governments everywhere to implement austerity measures to compensate for lost tax revenue; higher education has been a victim of those cuts. It’s happening all over, even in Europe where entry has been purely merit-based requiring the student to pay little, if any, of the cost. The United Kingdom has recently seen the introduction of fees. The cost of maintaining these institutions of higher learning is being passed on to students in the form of higher tuition and student loan debt, which will cripple future economic growth. Traditionally, brick and mortar institutions have been limited by physical classroom space and in order to ensure access to the best and brightest, admission standards were put into effect. But tougher admission requirements translates into reduced access. In contrast, cyberspace has changed this dynamic enabling nearly unlimited access and the potential for leveraging economies of scale.

Let’s look at a few online degree programs developed by institutions around the world and their estimated costs in United States dollars (USD) (at today’s exchange rate, some programs are at a fixed exchange). It shouldn’t be implied to be an exhaustive or even comparative list of degree programs. Its purpose is to get one thinking about possibilities of online programs in a global rather than regional context.

Western Governors University (United States)

Bachelor of Science in Information Technology – Estimated Total Cost: $18,210 USD ($3,035 USD per term for 6 terms)
Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Estimated Total Cost: $25,500 USD ($4,250 USD per term for 6 terms)

Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh Business School) (Scotland, United Kingdom)

Master of Business Administration (General) – 9 Courses – Estimated Total Cost: $13,005 USD ($1,445 USD x 9 Courses)
Master of Business Administration (with Specialism in Marketing, Human Resources, Strategic Planning or Finance) – 11 Courses – Estimated Total Cost: $15,895 USD ($1,445 USD x 11 courses)

Central Queensland University (Australia)

Bachelor of Accounting – Estimated Total Cost: $10,275 USD

University of South Africa (UNISA) (South Africa)

Certificate in International Marketing – Estimated Total Cost: $1,100 USD
Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) in Financial Management – Estimated Total Cost: $10,000 USD

As you can see from this short list, there is a diverse offering available in all hemispheres. If you simply begin searching, you are sure to find many more reputable and affordable colleges and universities all within reach online.

Ignoring national boundaries for the sake of higher education may not be the solution for all of the ills of the global higher education system. The curriculum of many fields aren’t easily transferable into an online program; most especially those disciplines which require time in laboratories such as Chemistry or Medicine. There is something to be said for face-to-face classroom contact, too. The value of peer discourse is incalculable. However, the potential of delivering academic programs online has yet to be fully realized. As learning management systems evolve and methods for online collaboration expand, the ability to interact with peers in real-time will become more common, thereby making the world our classroom. If we are to think and act globally, shouldn’t we also learn globally?

Faced with budget cuts, colleges and universities have no choice but to either cut costs or to raise new revenue. The need to remain competitive makes replacing (or increasing) revenue a more favorable option. Some universities have been successful at commercializing their research through intellectual property licensing, their publications and by developing curriculum for executive education programs. As many brick and mortar institutions have brought their curriculum online, it has not resulted in the reduction of tuition because the delivery system remains labor intensive and the revenue model has not changed to focus on profitability. Western Governors University, University of South Africa and Heriot-Watt University all have different curriculum delivery systems and revenue models that merit further study.

Heriot-Watt University, for example, is delivering some of its curriculum in an asynchronous self-study model which significantly lowers labor costs. Their distance learning program at the Edinburgh Business School and a satellite campus in Dubai (another campus is planned in Malaysia) are generating revenues that are repatriated back to the home campus in Edinburgh. Major capital improvements to infrastructure (new student housing, classroom space, curriculum localization and translation, etc.) and reinvestment in the community make the students the benefactors of these profits. Their distance learning delivery system has the potential to scale to hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of students worldwide. This scalability takes advantage of economies of scale that maximizes profits for the institution. At the same time, it provides expanded access, flexibility and tuition at more competitive rates. [3]

Assuming consumers are willing to participate in this global education market, the problem then becomes the criteria by which one evaluates programs at colleges and universities on an international level. The quality of the materials, accreditation, notable alumni, peer interaction and, most importantly, the integrity of assessments are all factors that should be considered. The quality of the materials can be evaluated by ensuring the authors are recognized experts in their field. Accreditation by a local governmental agency and/or internationally recognized accreditation body is important for ensuring continuity and consistency. For instance, Heriot-Watt University is accredited by Royal Charter issued by the British government and Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an approved accreditation body of the US Department of Education. Notable alumni may also be an indicator of quality and rigor of an international university. Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu are both alumni of the University of South Africa. The ability to interact with your peers may provide a lifeline when difficulties arise from studying unfamiliar material. This is one of the drawbacks to distance learning but if it is possible to communicate with peers, then it may be possible to get the answers you need. Probably one of the most important considerations is the integrity of the assessments. At no time should it be possible to refer to notes or receive assistance while an examination is conducted, or this should be an immediate cause for concern. The integrity of the testing facilities is very important to the validity of the degree. If assessments are administered without controls, it is impossible to ascertain whether one has mastered the material. Examinations at Heriot-Watt University and the University of South Africa are proctored at testing centers all over the world. These are often the same testing facilities that administer the GMAT, GRE and other standardized admission tests that require a high level of security.

The higher education establishment must be challenged both internally and externally to create a more efficient market. Tuition cannot continue to grow at this rate without serious economic consequences in the future. Globalization represents an opportunity for higher education to expand into new markets and generate new revenues; enabling it to weather adverse budget conditions, stabilize tuition costs and stimulate local reinvestment. It also represents an opportunity to expand student access and reduce the burden of student loan debt which creates cash flow for stimulating economic activity. A side benefit will be increased awareness and appreciation for global issues.

Global Sustainability From Corporate Collaboration

The traditional business paradigm encouraged companies to secure their assets by remaining isolated from other corporations. While businesses still must protect their products and designs, there is a sentiment today that appreciates the benefits that the world gains when all business subscribe to collaboration to solve global issues.

The catalyst for this shift is the fact that business collaboration is required in a socially sustainable world. The advent of the virtual world and the social media storm that ensued has demonstrated the revolutionary power that exists when people work together.

Certainly, businesses must operate with a certain level of autonomy in order to stay competitive in the marketplace, but appropriate collaboration can strengthen both the companies that participate and the world as a whole. The world benefits from the collaboration of small or large corporations, or educational institutions or research centers. Some of the resulting forum are large consortiums of organizations, while others consist of a few motivated individuals.

To make the most of your company’s collaborative experiences, consider these formats:

1. At MIT, there is a Sloan Social Impact Club to inspired individuals to collaborate with the power of businesses to create a socially sustainable impact on the world. From a select group of 20 students, fellowships and internships were pursed at different world organizations, such as the World Economic Forum, and Open Capital Advisors.

2. Collaboration across industry sectors combines great ideas from minds of divergent disciplines. Nike, Starbucks, Levi Strauss & Company, Sun Microsystems (now Oracle), and Timberland joined forces in 2008 to create the Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP). Each of these corporations has its own perspective of its industry, but they share one common vision on a particular problem that faces the world. Consequently, the above companies have each agreed to reduce their greenhouse gases by using renewable energy. In addition, they work with local and national governments to stimulate new jobs to protect their planet’s climate.

3. When competitors from the same industry collaborate, they can troubleshoot issues that are unique to their sector. The Sustainability Consortium is comprised of grocery chains such as Safeway, General Mills, Proctor and Gamble, and Pepsi Co. that are working together to fund scientific research that explores sustainable global food supply for the world. The challenge of this consortium covers consumers, supply chains, science and global regulations.

4. Companies are also seeking out dialogue with their suppliers and contractors. This type of collaboration tends to focus on sustainability, environmental responsibility, ethics, and compliance. For instance, Walmart has taken a bold step to educate its supply chain in regards to sustainable business practices that will protect the world’s resources. As one of the world’s largest corporations, they have issued a Walmart Green Student Challenge to build upon stronger ideas. The winning idea will change the way business is done, be financially justifiable and provide a significant sustainability benefit.

5. Whereas companies used to only collaborate with the government to offset the ills caused by some natural disaster, they are beginning to work alongside governmental agencies to battle a variety of the nation’s toughest crises. 80 companies, including Campbell’s Soup, Kraft Foods, Kellogg, General Mills, and PepsiCo, have worked alongside The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation formed by Michelle Obama. Together they work to reduce the rates of American obesity, especially in children.

Corporations discover that through collaboration they can make major impact on the world. Greener technology evolve when economic, social and corporate innovations are combined to achieve innovative technology solutions.

No matter the forum, you choose for your company’s collaboration, your business is sure to benefit from the experience as much as our world. Your customers, established and potential, are sure to appreciate the responsibility you accept to bring about positive changes in our world. Apply some of these strategies to strengthen your business in ways you had never imagined. Corporate sustainability is good business.

Globalization: How It Has Affected Philippine Education And Beyond

Education before the 20th century was once treated as a domestic phenomenon and institutions for learning were once treated as local institutions. Prior to the 20th century, education was usually limited within the confines of a country, exclusively meant for the consumption of its local citizens. Scholars or college students did not have to travel miles away from their countries of origin to study and to gain skills which they needed in order to traverse the paths of their chosen careers. Moreover, national borders served as impenetrable walls in the name of sovereignty. Gaining a college degree and the skills entailed with it were merely for the purpose of staunch nationalistic service to one’s land of origin. Furthermore, knowledge of the valleys and the oceans encircling the world map, as well as foreign languages and international political regimes were not much of an imperative. Intercultural exchange was not massive and sophisticated, if not intricate. Acceptance and understanding of cultural diversity were not pressured upon anyone, as well as the lure to participate in a globally interconnected world. In other words, before the 20th century, scholastic work were predominantly simple and constrained in the local, the domestic, the nearby. They were limited to one’s own village, one’s own region, one’s own country. A student had his own neighborhood as the location where he is to be born, to be educated, and later to be of service to – the local village which is his home, his community, his country.

Nevertheless, the world has been in a constant state of flux. In the 20th century onwards, the phenomenon called globalization rose and became the buzzword. Anything which pertained to the term globalization was attributed to modernization, or anything that is up-to-date, if not better. Part and parcel of this trend is the advent and irresistible force of information technology and information boom through the wonders of the Internet. The idea of cosmopolitanism – a sense of all of humanity, regardless of race, creed, gender, and so on, living in a so-called global village – is another primary indicator of globalization. Moreover, international media as well as trade and investment have been unbridled and have occurred in a transnational nature. Finally, globalization has involved the uncontrollable movement of scholars, laborers, and migrants moving from one location to another in search for better employment and living conditions.

Apparently, globalization seemed to be all-encompassing, affecting all areas of human life, and that includes education. One indicator of this is the emergence of international education as a concept. Internationalization of education is manifested by catchphrases like The Global Schoolhouse, All the world’s a classroom, One big campus that is Europe, Think global. Act local, and Go West. Students from the world over have been ostensibly persuaded to learn about the world and to cope with technological advancements, if not to become a Citizen of the World. Moreover, globalization and international education are at play, for instance, when speaking of Singapore being branded as the Knowledge Capital of Asia, demonstrating the city-state as among the world’s academic powerhouses; De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines entering into agreements and external linkages with several universities in the Asian region like Japan’s Waseda University and Taiwan’s Soochow University for partnership and support; the establishment of branch campuses or satellites in Singapore of American and Australian universities like the University of Chicago and the University of New South Wales, respectively; online degree programs being offered to a housewife who is eager to acquire some education despite her being occupied with her motherly duties; students taking semesters or study-abroad programs; and finally the demand to learn English – the lingua franca of the modern academic and business world – by non-traditional speakers, like the Chinese, the Japanese, and the Korean students exerting efforts to learn the language in order to qualify for a place in English-speaking universities and workplaces. Apparently, all of these promote international education, convincing its prospective consumers that in today’s on-going frenzy of competition, a potent force to boost one’s self-investment is to leave their homes, fly to another country, and take up internationally relevant courses. Indeed, globalization and international education have altogether encouraged students to get to know their world better and to get involved with it more.

Boston College’s Center for International Higher Education director and International Education expert Philip Altbach asserted in his article “Perspectives on International Higher Education” that the elements of globalization in higher education are widespread and multifaceted. Clear indicators of globalization trends in higher education that have cross-national implications are the following:

1. Flows of students across borders;
2. International branch and offshore campuses dotting the landscape, especially in developing and middle-income countries;
3. In American colleges and universities, programs aimed at providing an international perspective and cross-cultural skills are highly popular;
4. Mass higher education;
5. A global marketplace for students, faculty, and highly educated personnel; and
6. The global reach of the new ‘Internet-based’ technologies.

Moreover, European Association of International Education expert S. Caspersen supported that internationalization influences the following areas: Curriculum, language training, studies and training abroad, teaching in foreign languages, receiving foreign students, employing foreign staff and guest teachers, providing teaching materials in foreign languages, and provision of international Ph. D. students. Nevertheless, globalization’s objective of a “one-size-fits-all” culture that would ease international transactions has not seemed to be applicable to all the nations of the world. In the words of Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, globalization’s effects are dualistic in nature. Globalization itself is neither good nor bad. It has the power to do enormous good. But in much of the world, globalization has not brought comparable benefits. For many, it seems closer to an unmitigated disaster. In Andrew Green’s 2007 book, “Education and Development in a Global Era: Strategies for ‘Successful Globalisation'”, he asserted that optimists would refer to the rise of East Asian tigers – Japan, China, and South Korea – as globalization’s success stories. But these are just a minority of the world’s two hundred nations. A majority has remained in their developing situations, among these is the Philippines.

In terms of international education being observed in the Philippines, universities have incorporated in their mission and vision the values of molding graduates into globally competitive professionals. Furthermore, Philippine universities have undergone internationalization involving the recruitment of foreign academics and students and collaboration with universities overseas. English training has also been intensified, with the language being used as the medium of instruction aside from the prevailing Filipino vernacular. Finally, Philippine higher education, during the onset of the 21st century, has bolstered the offering of nursing and information technology courses because of the demand of foreign countries for these graduates.

In terms of student mobility, although gaining an international training through studying abroad like in the United States is deemed impressive, if not superior, by most Filipinos, the idea of practicality is overriding for most students. Study-abroad endeavors are not popular among the current generation of students. The typical outlook is that it is not practical to study overseas obviously because of the expenses – tuition fees, living costs, accommodation, and airfare. Although financial aid may be available, they are hugely limited. There may be several universities that offer merit or academic scholarships, talent scholarships, athletic scholarships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, full or partial tuition fee waivers, but actually there is certainly not a lot of student money. Apparently, international education is understood as a global issue, a global commodity, and above all, a privilege – and therefore, it is not for everyone. Hence, studying in America is a mere option for those who can afford to pay the expenses entailed in studying abroad.

The Philippines is a Third World country which is heavily influenced by developed nations like the United States. Globalization may have affected it positively in some ways, but a huge chunk of its effects has been leaning to the detriment of the Filipinos. Globalization has primarily affected not only the country’s education system but even beyond it – economically and socially. These include brain drain, declining quality in education because of profiteering, labor surplus, vulnerability of its workers overseas, and declining family values.

For one, the Philippines is a migrant-worker country. This phenomenon of sending its laborers (also known as Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs) abroad to work and to send money back home has been intensified by globalization. Brain drain – or the exodus of talented and skilled citizens of a country transferring to usually developed nations for better employment and living conditions – is one problem that has been stepped up by globalization. The Philippine foreign policy of labor diplomacy began in the 1970s when rising oil prices caused a boom in contract migrant labor in the Middle East. The government of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, saw an opportunity to export young men left unemployed by the stagnant economy and established a system to regulate and encourage labor outflows. This scenario has led Filipinos to study courses like nursing which would secure them employment overseas rather than in their home country. For more than 25 years, export of temporary labor like nurses, engineers, information technology practitioners, caregivers, entertainers, domestic helpers, factory workers, construction workers, and sailors were sent overseas to be employed. In return, the Philippine economy has benefited through the monetary remittances sent by these OFWs. In the last quarter of 2010, the Philippine economy gained roughly $18.76 billion in remittances which largely came from OFWs based in the United States, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Italy, Germany, and Norway.

Second, the demand for overseas employment by these Filipino professionals has affected the quality of the local education system in the form of fly-by-night, substandard schools which were only aimed at profiteering. A Filipino legislator, Edgardo Angara, once aired his concern over the spread of many schools which offer courses believed to be demanded in foreign countries and the declining quality education. Angara observed that the Philippines has too much access to education versus quality education. For instance, for every five kilometers in this country, there is a nursing school, a computer school, a care-giving school, and a cosmetic school. Angara suggested that lawmakers and educators should find a happy formula for quality education.

Third, labor surplus is another dire effect of globalization. In 2008, the phenomenon of brain drain started to subside in the Philippines. This period was when the United States started to experience a financial turmoil which was contagious, distressing countries around the world which are dependent to its economy. In the Philippines, it has been surmised that the demand for nurses has already died down because the need for them has already been filled. For instance, the United States has decided that instead of outsourcing foreign nurses, they have resorted to employing local hires to mitigate its local problem of rising unemployment. As a result, this incident has receded the phenomenon of a majority of Filipino college students taking up nursing. And the unfortunate result is the labor surplus of nursing graduates. This dilemma which has been caused by a Third World country such as the Philippines trying to cope with globalization’s feature of labor outflows has left Filipinos on a double whammy. Over 287,000 nursing graduates are currently either jobless or employed in jobs other than nursing. Nursing graduates nowadays suffer job mismatch, taking on jobs which are different from their field of specialization like working for call centers, serving as English tutors, if not remaining unemployed because the Philippine hospitals have little to no vacancies at all which are supposed to be occupied by the large number of nursing graduates. Furthermore, these professionals are accepted by hospitals or clinics as volunteers with little to no monetary benefits, or as trainees who are burdened with the policy of forcibly paying the hospitals for their training.

Fourth, a dilemma that globalization has burdened the Philippines is the vulnerability of its overseas workers. For instance, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, and Taiwan, have had no choice but to lay off and repatriate their Filipino guest workers in light of the global financial crisis. Furthermore, the threat of Saudization is a present concern in the Philippines nowadays. Presently, around 1.4 million OFWs in Saudi Arabia are in danger of losing their jobs because the Arab nation is implementing a Saudization program which will prioritize their Arab citizens for employment. To date, with more than 1.5 million OFWs, Saudi Arabia is the country which has the greatest concentration of OFWs. It is the largest hirer of Filipino Workers and has the largest Filipino population in the Middle East. As Saudi Arabia hosts a majority of OFWs, the problem of these Filipino workers losing their jobs and returning to their homeland where employment opportunities are scarce is a national threat. Furthermore, the current national instability in countries like Syria and Libya has threatened the lives of the OFWs, who still have chosen to stay in their foreign workplaces because of economic reasons which they find weightier vis-à-vis their safety.

Finally, globalization has resulted to social costs which involve challenges to Filipino families. Possessing close family ties, Filipino families sacrifice and allocate significant amounts of financial resources in order to support their kin. Filipino parents have the belief that through education, their children are guaranteed with promising futures and achieving decent lives. Thus, given the limited employment opportunities in the Philippines which are unable to support the needs of the family, one or both parents leave to work outside the country. As a result, Filipino children, although their educational goals and well-being are sustained, would have to survive with one or both parents away from them. They would then have to deal with living with an extended family member such as aunts, uncles or grandparents who are left to take care of them. This has deprived Filipino children of parental support and guidance as they are separated from the primary members of their family.

In reality, even though Filipino families have experienced the monetary benefits of a family member uprooting himself from the country to work overseas, this trend has not been enjoyed by the majority of Filipinos. The poorest of the poor cannot afford to leave and work overseas. Also, with volatile market forces, the value of the US dollar which is used as the currency of OFW salaries vacillating, rising gas prices and toll fees in highways, and the continued surge in the cost of living in the Philippines, in general, globalization has precluded long-term economic growth for the country, with the masses suffering a great deal. Moreover, with human capital and technological know-how important to growth, the Philippines suffered with globalization by losing its professionals to the developed countries which, on the other hand, experienced “brain gain”.

Indeed, globalization has both positive and negative effects, but in the Philippine case, it is more on the negative. It is justified to say that globalization is an “uneven process” and that most least developing countries did not grow significantly in light of globalization. Those which predominantly benefited are the affluent and powerful countries of the Western world and East Asia.

The Philippines was once considered as the “knowledge capital of Asia”, particularly during the 1960s and the 1970s. Its system of higher education was marked by high standards comparable to its neighboring countries, much lower tuition fees, and the predominant use of English as the medium of instruction. The Philippines, consequently, was able to entice students from its neighboring nations, like the Chinese, the Thais, and the Koreans. However, presently, this once upbeat picture has now been replaced by a bleak one because of several problems which has long confronted the system like budget mismanagement, poor quality, and job mismatch, thereby seriously affecting its consumers and end products – the Filipino students. Making matters worse is globalization affecting the graduates of Philippine universities by luring them to choose to work overseas because of the greater monetary benefits vis-à-vis the disadvantage of leaving their families home and not serving their countrymen. Now that the world is undergoing financial turmoil, the Filipino workers would then have to cope with these dire effects of globalization.

Apparently, the Philippines has remained stagnant, as opposed to the goals of increasing equality, rapid economic growth through integration into the global market, and the wide distribution of social improvements in less developed countries. These fruits of globalization, unfortunately, did not trickle down a great deal to the Philippines. Hence, although overseas employment has been a legitimate option for the local workers, it is high time that the Philippine government encourage colleges and universities to provide programs that are relevant to the nature of this substantially agricultural country like agriculture-related courses as these would play a significant role in setting the Philippine economy in motion towards development. The population boom in this country, which is commonly reckoned as among the country’s predicaments as the surging number of Filipinos is indirectly proportional to the employment opportunities available, should be taken advantage of by encouraging the surplus of people to develop employment and improve the rural farmlands. Affluent Filipino families who own large conglomerates should also participate in creating more employment opportunities and encouraging dignified labor conditions so as to mitigate the dismal trend of labor migration. Moreover, instead of adopting policies imposed by powerful Western countries like the United States and going with the flow, the Philippine government should work in reinforcing the welfare of its citizens more than anything else.

Global Science Research and the Value of International Collaboration

Science research spending around the globe has increased by 45 percent to more than $1,000 billion (one trillion) U.S. dollars since 2002. In 2008, 218 countries generated more than 1.5 million research papers, with contributions ranging from Tuvalu’s one paper to the U.S.’ 320,000 papers. The U.S. leads the world’s production of science research, accounting for 21 percent of publications and nearly $400 billion worth of public and private science R&D. BRIC and other developing countries, including China, India, Brazil and South Korea, account for much of the increase in scientific publications.

Science Research in the BRIC Countries of China, India and Brazil

A study by the U.K.’s Royal Society points out that the BRIC countries, along with South Korea, “are often cited as rising powers in science.” From 2002 to 2007, the China, India and Brazil more than doubled their spending on science research, bringing their collective share of global spending up from 17 to 24 percent.

Engineering is a common focus of science research in China, India and Russia. Scientific fields in which China has developed a leading position include nanotechnology and rare earths. Agriculture and biosciences are two important fields of emphasis in Brazil, which is a leader in biofuels research.

In keeping with their rapid economic development and massive populations, China and India, the world’s first and second most populous countries, produce large and growing numbers of science and engineering graduates each year. In 2006, about 2.5 million students in India and 1.5 million students in China graduated with degrees in science and engineering.

International Collaboration

Today, over 35 percent of science research articles are the result of international collaborations among researchers from different countries, a 40 percent increase from 15 years ago. The number of internationally co-authored papers has more than doubled since 1990.

The U.S., U.K., France and Germany continue to be key hubs of international collaboration in science research. Researchers in other developed and developing countries actively collaborate with scientists from these countries. According to the Royal Society report, “while links between the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have been growing in recent years, they pale in comparison to the volume of collaboration between these individual countries and their partners in the G7.”

International science research often takes the form of regional collaboration. Regional political institutions, including the European Union (EU), African Union (AU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), each have their own research strategies that foster and facilitate regional collaboration in science research.

“South-South Collaboration” between developing countries is a growing form of international science research. The International Centre for South-South Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation was inaugurated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2008 under the auspices of UNESCO. An initiative of India, Brazil and South Africa promotes South-South cooperation in several arenas, including science and research collaboration in fields such as nanotechnology, oceanography and Antarctic research.

Collaboration’s Benefits and Drivers

There are a number of important benefits, motivations and enabling factors that help explain the growth of international collaboration in science research, including:

1) greater impact;
2) scientific discovery;
3) scale of research projects;
4) scope and complexity of research topics and international issues;
5) capacity-building; and
6) advances in technology and communications.

Fourteen countries experienced more than a three-fold increase in their standard domestic publication impact by collaborating with one or more of 22 partner countries. Each additional international author leads to an increase in a paper’s impact, up to a tipping point of about ten authors. By collaborating with one another, scientists can access complementary skills and knowledge and stimulate new ideas.

The scale of some major science research projects is too large for most countries to undertake on their own. In such cases, international collaboration is necessary to meet extensive requirements for human, financial and other resources. The scope and complexity of certain science research topics and objectives can also drive international collaboration.

Many of the world’s most pressing social problems are international issues that call for collaboration and cooperation. Climate change, food security, public health (e.g., AIDS/HIV, malaria and tuberculosis) and sustainability are just a few of the global issues that require international collaboration and solutions.

Collaboration allows scientists in one country to build their capacity to conduct significant science research by leveraging the resources of partners in other countries. Collaboration can be particularly beneficial to partners from developing and developed countries.

Advances in technology have contributed greatly to the feasibility and appeal of international collaboration. For researchers in developing and developed countries alike, improvements in communication technologies and services have made international collaboration simpler, faster and cheaper than ever before.

Success Stories

The Royal Society study presents several encouraging examples of cases where science research and international collaboration have contributed greatly to addressing important international issues.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) encompasses an international network of independent centers of agricultural research in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Despite operating on a modest yet significant annual budget of $550 million, every $1 invested in CGIAR is estimated to yield a very healthy return of $9 worth of additional food in developing countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) set up FluNet in 1996 as a global tool to monitor and evaluate influenza virus strains by leveraging data from a number of national influenza laboratories around the world. When the epidemic of severe respiratory illness broke out in Hong Kong in 2003, the FluNet network contributed to a coordinated, rapid response from the international science and medical community that identified the virus and helped minimize the related public health threat and consequences.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization has immunized more than 200 million children and prevented over 3.4 million premature deaths since receiving a start-up grant of $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 1999.

Royal Society Study – Knowledge, Networks and Nations

These are some of the key findings published recently in the Royal Society’s examination of global science research entitled Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global Scientific Collaboration in the 21st Century.

The Royal Society study is based on statistics from international organizations, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Society’s own analysis of data on science research articles published in roughly 25,000 separate scientific journals by the more than 7 million researchers around the world.

Science research encompasses both research and development, the “R” and “D”, respectively, of public and private R&D efforts, which range from abstract and conceptual exploration through to market-oriented development of scientific applications.

Research Findings

The Royal Society study paints an encouraging picture of growing international investment in science research. International collaboration is a highly valuable mechanism for promoting scientific discovery and maximizing the impact of science research. Publicly and privately funded science R&D has played a key role in successfully addressing key issues related to public health, food security and the environment, among others.