Academic journal article Journal of Research Administration

Administration of an Innovative Program of International Cooperation: Success across the Pond

Academic journal article Journal of Research Administration

Administration of an Innovative Program of International Cooperation: Success across the Pond

Article excerpt

Introduction

The world is rapidly changing, and globalization is helping to establish common social, economic, and political agreements between countries, as evidenced by the 1993 Maastricht Agreement that created the European Union (EU) and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. These agreements provide the context and rationale for government involvement in enhancing educational opportunities and removing barriers that limit the flow of students, educators, professionals, practices, and projects across borders. Having opened the doors to North American and European mobility in higher education, this increased global activity has encouraged the development of common education standards and mechanisms for mutual recognition, and liberated processes by which professionals are permitted to practice. For example, the educational ministries within the EU have mandated through the Bologna Declaration that by 2010 all educational curricula, course syllabi, textbooks, and related materials must be identical within the EU countries. This means that whether an institution is educating an architect or a zoologist, the educational methodology will be identical to its counterpart institutions' programs throughout the EU. Therefore, this Declaration has been designed not just to lower barriers, but to remove them entirely.

These barriers also exist in the U. S. They are generated by responding to the criteria for specific academic curricula that in many cases are imposed, or at the very least influenced by accreditation agencies, certification bodies, ministries of education and health, and licensure laws, because education and training can differ from state to state and country to country. These barriers will create unique challenges for higher education in the U.S. as our graduates try to stay competitive in the global economy. Thus, global mobility of students has now been recognized as an important component of the educational experience to help address concerns related to differences--not just to the academics in a particular curriculum, but more importantly to help facilitate a better understanding in culture among the peoples of these countries.

An integrated effort to help promote the joint collaboration between higher educational institutions within the United States and the EU has been in place for several years based upon a treaty of mutual cooperation. The origin of this cooperation in education and training dates from the Transatlantic Declaration on EU-U.S. relations adopted in November 1990. In 1993, a two-year exploratory phase of cooperation was launched, and the experience gained provided the basis for a formal EU-U.S. Cooperation Agreement signed in June 1993. Since that time a total of 107 transatlantic consortia have been funded involving 726 European and U.S. institutions of higher education and vocational training. More than 4,000 U.S. and EU students have completed portions of their programs of study abroad within these consortia projects.

To enhance the cultural awareness of students while removing their academic, research and practice differences across borders, three years ago an international consortium comprised of four American and four European institutions of higher learning united to establish a mutual student exchange program (Table 1),

The integration of the eight institutions is diagrammed in Figure 1. The Consortium agreed to target biomedical science as the initial academic area of focus, with interest in other areas to be identified following the matriculation of the consortium program. This partnership has now been extended to programs in behavioral science and business.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

From the perspective of the research administration office, a program of this scope focusing on international cooperation creates unique challenges. Obligatory components such as memoranda of understanding (MOU) and sub-contractual agreements are potential hurdles that must be overcome to provide the necessary instruments for the ultimate success of the project. …

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