International Initiative

Stanford's international reach highlighted with visits to China

Projects to enhance health security and child survival in Africa with improvements in water and sanitation, examine why poor business-management practices persist in India, study the relationship of legal courts to politics and human rights and understand why the Middle East has lagged in economic progress were 2008 recipients of grants from the Presidential Fund for Innovation in International Studies.


The fund is among the programs Stanford has created through its International Initiative to seek solutions to worldwide challenges involving international security, governance at every level and human well being.

For instance, “Enhancing Health Security Through Infrastructure and Behavioral Intervention: Water, Sanitation and Child Survival in Africa” seeks to improve the health of the 1.2 billion people—particularly children—in low-income countries who lack access to clean water and the 2.6 billion who lack access to sanitation services. The multidisciplinary project involves Alexandria Boehm, the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Jenna Davis, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and Woods Institute for the Environment fellow; Abby King, professor of health research and policy; and Gary Schoolnik, professor of medicine.

Also under the aegis of the International Initiative, President John Hennessy visited Peking University with the deans of three schools and other faculty members to expand and deepen Stanford's existing relationships, especially in research and faculty collaboration. Peking University, one of China's leading universities, is home to Stanford-in-Beijing, a Bing Overseas Studies program. The president's trip was followed by a visit to China, sponsored by the Arts Initiative, of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and other Department of Music groups.

Another key to the International Initiative is the Program on Food Security and the Environment (FSE )—a collaboration between the Woods Institute and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. It received support in 2008 from the Cargill Foundation to fund visiting fellows, from the Rockefeller Foundation to study the effects of climate change on food security in Africa and from Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project to study biofuels and climate.


A pilot program funded by the International Initiative resulted in a teacher-training agreement between Stanford and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The agreement allows faculty from the two universities to collaborate and Chilean students to come to Stanford for teacher training.