ULV wins grant for Brazil exchange

Posted Oct. 19, 2007

Francine Gobert
Staff Writer

University of La Verne students frequently take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. And the University has also become a home-away-from-home to many exchange students as well.

In fact the University has recently been awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Education through the Fund for the Improvement of Post­secondary Education, which offers grants to U.S. institutions to facilitate the exchange of students with Brazilian universities.

“Our international students are mainly from Asia, but we also have students from all over the world,” said Phil Hofer, director of the International and Study Abroad Center.

The $200,000 grant was awarded to ULV along with Fairfield University in Connecticut for a period of four years.

The universities will partner with two Brazilian universities, Northern Fluminense State University and the University of the Dos Sinos Rios.

Hofer, who also the co-wrote the grant application, became involved with the project about two years ago when Marcos Pedlowski, an environmental scientist from Northern Flumin­ense State University in Brazil spoke during International Education Week at ULV.

“His university was just finishing a FIPSE grant and he liked what he saw at ULV and thought it would be a good place for his students to study, and decided to invite ULV,” Hofer said.

“(Northern Fluminense State University’s) focus is very similar to ULV’s focus,” Professor of Public Administration Jack Meek said.

Meek was given the opportunity through a fellowship to do his sabbatical at the Brazilian university and said he feels it is a good match for ULV.

The project will allow eight ULV students to go to the Brazilian university and host eight Brazilian students here.

The focus of the program will be an exploration of the facets of poverty, degradation and migration, under the program titled “Understanding Poverty, Displacement and the Environment Across Continents.”

The purpose of the program is to allow students to be involved with dispelling ideas about poverty through investigating such themes as the factors that lead to immigration, migration and flight and the legal and the institutional causes of environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources.

“The programs intention is to mobilize ULV’s mission of a values orientation and lifelong learning,” said Matthew Witt, associate professor of public administration and primary investigator for the project. “We hope to stimulate students to be leaders.”

“It’s a new step for the University and a good one that adds to the efforts to be international,” Hofer said.

The university will also work to compose a joint curriculum with the Brazilian universities to further stress and approach the issues of poverty and social justice as it is outlined in the program.

“In December three Faculty members from ULV will go to Brazil,” Hofer said.

These faculty members include Witt; Jeffery Burkhart, professor and Fletcher Jones Chair of Biology; and Gitty Amini, associate professor of political science.

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for faculty as well as students,” Burkhart said.

Burkhart will work with the students involved with the exchange program to devise coursework that will meet their needs.

As the University continues in preparation for the new project, students will soon have the chance to experience the new Brazilian exchange program.

“We are recruiting students now to apply,” Hofer said.

Hofer hopes the project will attract students who are interested in exploring new cultures and new concepts.

“This is for students who want to do interdisciplinary learning and who have an interest in the three themes outlined in the program,” Hofer said.

The students who have been selected for the program will study Portuguese next spring with tutors funded through the grant.

These first students will then take part in the new program in fall 2008.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity and we are so excited for students to get language training and be a part of a country that has a great past,” Meek said.

“We are happy to be involved and look forward to the next four years as we enrich students,” Witt said.

For more information on the International and Study Abroad Center and the opportunities to be involved with the Brazilian exchange program, contact Hofer at (909) 593-3511, Ext. 4330 or visit www.ulv.edu/studyabroad.

Francine Gobert can be reached at fgobert@ulv.edu.

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