Chile Relationship Extends International Reach
Chile might seem a bit far to go for spring break, but in 2008, then-Dean Richard McCarty and a team of Vanderbilt faculty and staff made the trip as part of a university-wide effort to build research-based relationships with peer institutions around the globe.
McCarty, Assistant Provost for International Affairs Joel Harrington, Department of Anthropology Chair Tom Dillehay, and Vanderbilt International Office Program Coordinator Melissa Smith visited Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, one of South America’s top academic institutions. Although a partnership between Vanderbilt and the Chile university has not yet been formalized, all involved are enthusiastic.
“One way we can serve our students and faculty is to extend Vanderbilt’s reach internationally,” McCarty says. “The trip went very well. We had wonderful discussions across many disciplines.”
Vanderbilt has already established research-based institutional partnerships with the University of Melbourne, University of Cape Town, Fudan University and the University of São Paulo. “We want to build strong institutional relationships with a small number of peer institutions around the world. These are based on research collaborations, in contrast to student exchanges, which is what we’ve done in the past,” says Harrington, who noted Vanderbilt’s approach is unique compared to those at most American universities.
These partnerships provide new opportunities for students through research and internships, facilitate greater international research and teaching opportunities for faculty across disciplines, and improve Vanderbilt’s reputation abroad, Harrington says. Future initiatives may also include joint labs, symposia and conferences, and perhaps courses or degrees.
“The College of Arts and Science is very involved in these core partnerships, and it’s a great way for us to strengthen our academic programs,” McCarty notes.
Although students and faculty represent the primary beneficiaries of the internationalization efforts, staff and administration may also have the opportunity to participate in an exchange of ideas. The University of Melbourne sent a senior member of its development staff to meet with Vanderbilt development staff, and in exchange, one of Vanderbilt’s international office staff members visited Melbourne to learn from its expertise in internationalization.
The College of Arts and Science has had close ties to South America for decades, and to Chile in particular. Dillehay has led numerous archaeological and anthropological projects in the region. Simon Collier, former chair of the Department of History, had a long-standing relationship with Pontifical Catholic University through his academic interest in Chilean political history. In 2006, Pontifical Catholic University Political Science Professor Juan Pablo Luna participated in Vanderbilt’s Latin American Public Opinion Project directed by Mitchell Seligson, Centennial Professor of Political Science and fellow of the Center for the Americas.
“One of the priorities for the College of Arts and Science is creating new knowledge through research,” McCarty says. “International partnerships have the added bonus of tapping into other institutions’ strengths while providing our faculty and students with experiences that increase their personal knowledge.”
Artwork © iStockphoto.com/Marisa Allegra Williams.