A delegation from five UNL colleges visited Brazil in early October to further collaborations with universities in this South American country.
The institutions visited include the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, the Methodist University of Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo, and the University of Sao Paulo-ESALQ in Piracicaba.
The institutions were selected after UNL participation in the Institute for International Education’s year-long International Academic Partnership Program and a subsequent spring 2014 visit by Maegan Stevens-Liska, international projects manager, Cody Hollist, associate professor of child, youth and family studies, and Dave Wilson, senior international officer and associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Wilson said UNL is actively seeking collaborations in Brazil because Nebraska priorities and UNL research efforts in agriculture, resource management, education, business, economics, engineering and technology development align closely with the South American nation’s priorities.
“These alignments create strong opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation,” Wilson said. “Brazil is a hemispheric neighbor, a major United States trading partner, and has a well developed higher education system with talented students and faculty. It’s also the seventh largest economy in the world.”
In recent years, expansion of Brazil’s Scientific Mobility Program — which provides funding for its students to study in other countries — has made Brazilian students the second largest international population at UNL.
China is the largest international population with 1,094 students.
A total of 230 Brazilian students — 208 undergraduates and 22 graduate students — enrolled at UNL at the start of the 2014-2015 academic year. In 2013-2014, UNL recorded 48 students from Brazil.
“Prior to 2010, UNL had no students from Brazil,” Wilson said. “The numbers have grown steadily in the last four years since the Brazilian government created the Scientific Mobility Program. It is designed to send more than 200,000 Brazilians abroad to enhance their education.”
Ronnie Green, vice chancellor of UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Thomas Farrell, then with NU Central Administration, now senior adviser to the chancellor on international affairs, were visiting Brazil shortly after the announcement of the program.
“Ronnie and Tom were in the right place at the right time, Wilson said. “They indicated UNL was willing to help with the new program, and we were among the first host institutions. Since then, the UNL community has eagerly welcomed these Brazilian students.”
Hollist’s ties to Brazil have been beneficial to UNL’s efforts in Brazil. He taught at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, where he has a decade-long research collaboration. In addition, he is fluent in Portuguese.
“(Federal University) is a top-ranked Brazilian university with many distinguished alumni. We believe it offers potential for research collaboration, student and faculty exchanges, study abroad, joint and dual degree programs, and graduate student recruitment,” Wilson said. “(Methodist University of Sao Paulo) is a private university with a strong reputation in teaching and distance education. We believe it offers potential for student exchanges, study abroad, joint and dual degree programs, graduate student recruitment and some research collaboration.”
The eight-member UNL delegation that visited Brazil from Oct. 4-11 included: Wilson; Hollist; Stevens-Liska; Paul Shoemaker, research associate dean and professor of accountancy; Chris Cornelius, research associate dean and professor of chemical and bio-molecular engineering; Rob Simon, associate professor of practice of marketing; Brian Lepard, professor of law; and John Richmond, professor and director of the Glenn Korff School of Music. They are presently exploring within their colleges the opportunities they found in Brazil.
Primary goals of the visit included:
Furthering the efforts to engage Federal University and Methodist University of Sao Paulo and exploring opportunities for joint and collaborative research endeavors, student and faculty exchanges, language learning and education abroad
Exploring opportunities for joint/double degree programs, student exchanges, shared distance education courses and programs, education abroad and collaborative research at Methodist University of Sao Paulo
Exploring education abroad opportunities for UNL students at Federal University for summer 2015
Visiting Pontifical Catholic University in Porto Alegre to gain a preliminary sense of whether more time there might be warranted
Reaffirming IANR’s commitment to engage with the University of Sao Paulo-ESALQ and exploring opportunities to bring ESALQ students to UNL
Efforts to engage Brazil and recruit Brazilian students also include the creation of a new bilingual web portal at http://international.unl.edu/brazil. In November, Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Farrell will visit Brazil to continue UNL’s efforts there.
For more information on UNL’s international engagement efforts, contact Wilson at email@example.com.