At the request of the U.S. Department of State, APLU’s Office of International Programs this week hosted a delegation from the Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) on Science and Technology Cooperation with South Africa. Such Joint Committee Meetings are bilateral conferences convened to enhance science and technology cooperation between the United States and its counterparts abroad.
South Africa is looking to the U.S. as a model of how to foster an environment that produces scientific breakthroughs that enhance productivity, opportunity, and economic and social welfare. Ahmad Ezzeddine, Associate Vice President for Educational Outreach and International Programs at Wayne State, spoke on entrepreneurship opportunities and recent discussions with South African universities about partnerships that explore the similarities between Detroit and South African cities also undergoing economic downturns. The delegation also heard from speakers from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and AMPION, a startup accelerator based in Africa about models for innovation and best practices for partnerships.
The themes of the U.S-South Africa JCM focus on agriculture, water, energy, and the environment and the role of U.S. universities as research centers, as well as universities’ perspectives on partnerships with government. American models of education in these fields were topics of interest to the delegation.
With these interests in mind, presenters from the higher education and international development communities, including APLU staff, shared best practices for developing human capital and institutional capacity in science and technology, as well as opportunities for partnerships related to innovation and entrepreneurship. Representatives from the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce also joined the meetings to share their perspective on these issues.
“Higher education is key to a high-functioning economy” said Montague Demment, APLU’s Vice President for International Programs. “Continuing existing relationships and finding additional opportunities for collaboration between APLU members and South African universities and government can help both countries create the human capital needed for innovation and economic development.”
Kacy Redd, Director of Science and Mathematics Education Policy at APLU, discussed STEM education and the undergraduate pipeline while Suzanne Ortega, President of the Council of Graduate Schools spoke on holistic graduate education. The Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) Program at Wayne State University, an APLU member, was spotlighted during the discussion. BEST, funded by the National Institutes of Health seeks to transform graduate education so that nonacademic careers are viewed as positive outcomes rather than “alternative” or “second-best” ones. Also highlighted were the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program, which leverages major investments made by U.S. government science agencies in research for by directly supporting developing country scientists, and other university research collaboration opportunities through the United States Agency for International Development
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