Faculty in Focus: Experts in Global Collaboration

Pitt's globally engaged faculty are at the heart of global partnerships as they dedicate their time, energy, resources, and expertise to create and advance groundbreaking and impactful initiatives across countless areas of study.

Without the contributions of these thought leaders and trailblazers, our institution would not be able to achieve its goal of "Bringing the World to Pitt and Pitt to the World." The Global Partnerships team is honored to work in collaboration with our many faculty leaders to support our global network of institutional and community partners.

On behalf of PittGlobal, thank you to the many faculty, staff, students, and alumni who have helped establish the University of Pittsburgh as a leading institution for global education.

The University of Pittsburgh is proud to celebrate our faculty and staff's amazing achievements in global education. To nominate a faculty member to be featured as a "Faculty in Focus" or otherwise share your personal, school, or departmental success, please email GlobalPartnerships@pitt.edu.

Featured Faculty in Focus

Ronald Brand

Academic Director, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg University Professor and John E. Murray Faculty Scholar
Center for International Legal Education

Professor Ronald A. Brand has always been an advocate for global education.

Brand currently serves as the University of Pittsburgh’s Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg University Professor and John E. Murray Faculty Scholar and the Academic Director of the Center for International Legal Education (CILE). He was the driving force behind the creation of CILE and its Master of Laws Program for Foreign Law Graduates, and his reputation as a scholar on international and comparative law has helped the University of Pittsburgh School of Law attract prominent visiting scholars and lecturers from around the world and enhance opportunities for students to study and work abroad.

Beyond his many impressive accomplishments, though, are plenty of challenges, collaborations, mentors and inspirations, and hard work.

1.    Why are you working in global? What propelled you to start engaging globally?

I have had a strong interest in international matters from an early age. I first did a summer school abroad at the age of 16 and the experience made me want more. When I began teaching at Pitt Law in 1982, I was allowed to develop international courses that fit my interests and the needs of the Law School. When we created the Center for International Legal Education (CILE) in 1995, with the LL.M. program for foreign law students, that provided a framework for developing international programs for all of our students.

2.    What factors do you consider when exploring international collaborations?

I have always thought there is no such thing as an institutional partnership, only personal relationships. Thus, the real question is whether there are people on both sides of the collaboration who will remain connected in order to insure sustainability. At Pitt and Pitt Law, I have been blessed to have colleagues who take on those positions and make institutional international collaborations work because of personal relationships. 

3.    What are your most memorable international collaborative moments?

My earliest experience teaching abroad was at the University of Augsburg in 1989. I co-taught a seminar in which we incorporated and American-style moot court experience. It also resulted in [Chancellor Emeritus and Chair of the University’s Institute of Politics] Mark Nordenberg coming to Augsburg for his first such experience abroad. He and I later co-taught an Advanced Transnational Litigation class that culminated in a week-long seminar with Augsburg students held near Sion, Switzerland. The combination of a wonderful setting and intense discussion of the law in a comparative manner convinced me of the value of combining travel, enjoyable social settings, and deep intellectual discussion for some of the best experiences for students and professors.

4.    What are some challenges that you've encountered and how did you overcome them? 

Of course, the biggest challenge to having international programs that benefit students is funding. As with other issues, the wonderful structure of UCIS creates cooperative ways of dealing with this and other challenges. 

5.    What advice would you give to faculty looking to build international collaborations. 

I have been lucky to have opportunities come along at good times. So, I think the best advice is to keep yourself open to opportunities. Some think of this as being in the right place at the right time, but that really doesn’t capture it. There is a wonderful expression the surrealist photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson borrowed from Andre Breton when discussing photography that I think applies to all disciplines. That is that you have to “want to help chance” along by placing yourself “in a state of grace with chance.”  At Pitt and Pitt Law, it has been quite easy for me to be in a state of grace with chance largely because of the wonderful people across the University who are brought together by the UCIS structure to make that process a reality that produces results.

6.    Have you had any mentors that have impacted your global engagement? 

I have had many colleagues who have helped make possible wonderful experiences for me. Mark Nordenberg was Chair of the appointments committee that brought me to Pitt Law, and then my Dean, Provost, and Chancellor, while always remaining a friend. He has a way of encouraging others to take advantage of opportunities. Burkhardt Holzner, Tom McKechnie, and Glema Burke were all important colleagues at UCIS who helped make sometimes unrealistic plans become possible. I have been able always to connect with people who really care about what we are doing for students both here and at our partner institutions.

7.    Have any of your global collaborations been cross-disciplinary? If so, please share how you approached engaging with a school, center, or department outside your own. 

Many of the most important collaborations have been cross disciplinary and a result of working across the University. In the 1990s and early 2000s, our Center for International Legal Education partnered with CREEES (then only CREES), to bring together strengths in regional studies and law in order to receive State Department grants for partnerships in Donetsk and Kyiv in Ukraine, as well as in Belgrade and Pristina. These simply would not have been possible without the UCIS structure that allows combinations of interdisciplinary strengths to thrive.

8.    How does your global engagement and collaboration impact your teaching and research?

I try always to think of how my global engagement can benefit students. Most recently, my work with the U.S. Commerce Department in the Middle East to develop law faculty curriculum in many countries has allowed a significant number of our law students and recent graduates to travel to the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans to help train students in those parts of the world. By becoming the trainers, our students gain so much more than by simply engaging in the experiences themselves. We have used a global arbitration moot competition as a pedagogical platform not only to develop legal education abroad but also to expand opportunities and experiences for our own students. Most of my scholarship has built as well on my opportunities to work with others from abroad.

Edited for length and clarity