US universities look to expand research relationships with Cuba

Academic agreements follow warming diplomatic relations

The United States is looking to expand relationships with Cuba's universities, Jarrett Carter reports for Education Dive.

Currently, there are more than 40 memorandums of understanding between U.S. colleges and universities and the University of Havana. Science and education officials from both countries hope to see more of those, as well as more "purposeful travel" between the two nations.

How to fund faculty research and travel

Last summer, the U.S. and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. In the last six months, about 130,000 Americans traveled to the island country under federal exemption rules. Officials from both nations hope the increased engagement will lead to increased intellectual exchanges.

In June, representatives from government, higher education institutions, and research agencies met at the National Press Club to discuss existing and new agreements between the two countries' colleges and universities.

“Our scientific engagements with Cuba have blossomed, and we are close to concluding arrangements in a number of other scientific areas, including marine pollution response, agriculture, conservation, seismology, and meteorology," said Vaughan Turekian, science and technology adviser to the U.S. Department of State.

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Some of these memorandums include:

  • One signed last July by the University of the District of Columbia Law School and the University of Havana's Law College that has do to with wills and legal rights for elderly citizens;and
  • One extended last December—which began in 2011—between Drake University and University of Havana to continue research sharing for agricultural law and food preservation statues.

Strategies for encouraging research faculty to secure external funding

Additionally, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Cuban Academy of Sciences created a coalition to bring Cuban pharmological advances and intellectual capital to the U.S. to deal with challenges such as Zika and lung cancer. The University of Illinois at Chicago is one of the featured members of the partnership (Carter, Education Dive, 7/13; Oppmann, CNN, 7/20/2015).


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