Global Engagement Solutions for Higher Education


Successfully Create and Share Your Global Story with Jeff Riedinger, Vice Provost, Global Affairs at UW

MARCH 20, 2023

Episode Summary

Global branding refers to the management of a brand in different regions of the world to increase its strength and recognition in the markets where it operates. And if you successfully market your global story and create an excellent global brand, you will attract more people and grow.

But creating a global brand takes a lot of work. It is not enough to advertise and invest money in marketing. You have to get to know the market, determine the target groups and offer them what they need. However, above all, you have to be original and bring something new and attractive.

In this episode of Global Engagement Insights, our host David Sanderson welcomes Jeffrey Riedinger, Vice Provost for Global Affairs at the University of Washington. Jeff explains how to craft a good global story and share it. Jeff and David discuss the importance of using real-time data and what kind of data the University of Washington provides to faculty members and students.


Name: Jeffrey Riedinger

What he does: Jeff is the vice provost for Global Affairs at the University of Washington.

Company: University of Washington

Noteworthy: Jeffrey has been a global educator for the last 40 years. He is the vice provost for Global Affairs at the University of Washington and has leadership and administrative responsibility for the university's diverse global programming, including support for international research, study abroad, student and faculty exchanges, and overseas centers. He also serves on the faculty of the University of Washington School of Law and the Sustainable Development LL.M. program.

Where to find Jeffrey: LinkedIn

Key Insights

  • UW: ‘Be boundless for Washington, for the world.’ When he first returned to the University of Washington in the fall of 2013 to serve as a senior international officer — as vice provost for Global Affairs — the University of Washington was in the midst of a rebranding exercise. Jeff took part in it and describes what it was like. “We needed a global brand. And I was fortunate enough to be very much involved in the discussions in shaping who they did focus groups with; so, it includes our international partners, international alumni, great global companies based in the Seattle area. And I’d had previous experience at Michigan State University working on much the same thing, and to my great delight, the net result of all of the work they did was for us to embrace a tagline that is ‘Be boundless for Washington, for the world.’”
  • Telling the right global story. To present your global story and expand your reach, you have to work hard at it. You can raise your global profile through media, advertising, and various other ways; but, according to Jeff, it is very important to examine your existing users or collaborators and find out what you are missing. As he points out, during the rebranding exercise at UW, he realized that in the global space, they had great anecdotes, but they didn't have a great data story. “I’m always mindful that not everything that’s important can be readily quantified and not everything that can be quantified is important, and to embrace the power of compelling qualitative anecdotes. But you do want to be able to back up the stories with data to demonstrate that this is not just a one-off story — that this is a story that encapsulates something that’s true across the whole of the university. And that sent us down the path of looking at what data we have available, how could we pull it all together, and how could we use that to inform decision-making?”
  • The importance of using real-time data. Real-time data is data that is available as soon as it is created and acquired; instead of being stored, it is forwarded to users as soon as it is collected and immediately available. Real-time data is becoming more common in organizations, including the University of Washington. Jeff describes the usage of real-time data in the study abroad space and how it made the process easier for them. “We've long had students who go to their academic advisors and might mention that they’re interested in studying abroad, but we historically didn’t have a nice, easy way for academic advisors to check a box or two in the records they were keeping of students, which would alert us, ‘This student is interested in learning more about study abroad.’ And in the same way, we used to manually collect names, and then we started having the possibility that students could swipe their ID cards when they came to our in-person study abroad fair. But that just told us who attended; it didn’t automatically, as it now does, pre-populate into a database that says, ‘This student has shown an interest in study abroad.’ It now allows us to follow up with them.”

Episode Highlights

Data Analytics at the University of Washington

“One of the many barriers to being globally engaged as a faculty member, whether it’s in research or teaching, or in gracing work in communities, is simply knowing who else is doing what in a related vein in the same geography across this huge campus.

But the same is true for our students — to tell stories not simply about how they could get on an airplane and study abroad halfway around the world, but they can have global experiences on Native American reservations, which, after all, are sovereign nations.

So, we can create global experiences, but we need to know what those opportunities are, share them, who is already doing what so that others can see themselves as doing this same thing — whether it’s studying abroad or engaging in research abroad or internships and the like. So, with that in mind, it was said about trying to inventory, ‘What data did the university already have? What was it already collecting?’ Because doing one-off surveys of faculty or students and the like is not a sustainable, easily replicable model.”

Moving Away From Comprehensive Internationalization

“We’re now in a period — and have been for some time — in a period of rising nationalism, of growing great power, competition, of concerns about research security involved in international research collaborations. And at the same time, on many of our campuses, the focus is not on comprehensive internationalization but much more emphasis on how global engagement — whether it’s in research or education or community-based initiatives — how does that advance other institutional priorities. So I’m not looking for a standalone comprehensive internationalization agenda at the university. I’m looking at how our global engagement drives these others and helps advance these other priorities. That said, I still want to be highly visible. And so, some of that is you click on our main web page, you click on the ‘About’ button, and one of the things that’s in that dropdown menu is our global impact. And that leads you to a single page that is our best effort — quantitatively and qualitatively — and with great graphics to tell a summary of our global story.”

Sharing Your Global Story

“If any part of the brand can have a global piece, embrace it. A dedicated position would be ideal, but at a bare minimum, when you consider hiring IT people, consider their data analytics expertise. That’s been invaluable to us. Have somebody who could actually work with the data once you make it available. I’d start with what data does your office already have access to. International offices tend to have information on international students, student exchanges, study abroad. That may be it, but start with that. Figure out what you can do with that data and what stories you can pull out of them. Then do as we did. Find out who’s keeping what data across the rest of the university that might actually bear on and have something to do with the global story, and become their friends. Build a network, and if the cost of all of that is a lunch every couple of months or something, whatever it takes. I would strongly advise you to use existing campus databases as the data source.”