Engaging faculty through partnership development with institutions abroad

UC Santa Cruz faculty and staff in Ireland
Faculty and staff from UC Santa Cruz and Queen's University Belfast gathered in front of the Lanyon Building at Queen's University Belfast.
UC Santa Cruz faculty and staff in India
UC Santa Cruz faculty and staff in India.
UC Santa Cruz faculty Carol Greider participating in the symposium at UABC.
UC Santa Cruz faculty member Carol Greider participating in a symposium at UABC.

While the benefits of fostering international partnerships are clear, effectively engaging faculty members in relationship-building is essential for universities seeking to harness the full potential of global collaboration.

In spring 2024, UC Santa Cruz faculty participated in three delegation visits to institutions in Mexico, the UK/Northern Ireland, and India to explore partnership opportunities.

Cali-Baja Dialogue, a faculty symposium with UABC in Ensenada

In early May, a delegation of UC Santa Cruz faculty led by Vice Chancellor for Research John MacMillan participated in a one-day symposium aimed at strengthening ties between UC Santa Cruz and Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC).

The delegation of UC Santa Cruz faculty included Nobel Laureate Carol Greider, Manel Camps, Ari Martinez, Carlos Martinez, Mohammed Mostajo-Radji, Stacy Philpott, Pallab Sarker, and Matt Sparke. The faculty were accompanied by Senior International Officer and Assistant Vice Provost of Global Engagement Becky George and current graduate student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Andrea Paz Lacavex.

The symposium featured a keynote from Distinguished Professor of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology Carol Greider, followed by roundtable discussions focused on topics in the sciences and a networking lunch.

“It was fascinating to learn about a range of research endeavors on their campus – everything from marine biodiversity and aquaculture to climate change in urban areas and farmworker health,” said Professor of Environmental Studies Stacy Philpott. “As an added bonus, we were treated to an amazing meal prepared by their culinary and enology student teams.”

The joint faculty symposium followed a visit to UC Santa Cruz from the rector of UABC Dr. Luis Enrique Palafox Maestre in 2023 to explore collaborative opportunities, agreements, and joint projects. Maestre expressed the importance of developing ongoing collaboration and research opportunities with UC Santa Cruz, highlighting shared values and priorities between the two universities.

New Faculty Seminar Away program sends faculty to the UK

In late April, a group of 12 UC Santa Cruz faculty embarked on a one-week trip to visit two institutional partners, the Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB) in Northern Ireland, and the University of Bristol, located about two hours by train from London in the southwestern corner of England. The group was selected to participate in the inaugural iteration of the Faculty Seminar Away, a Global Engagement initiative that aims to engage faculty in partnership-building efforts and expand cross-institutional ties to support increased international research and teaching collaborations.

The agenda at each institution was crafted to maximize networking and opportunities for faculty-to-faculty dialogue and mutual sharing on research strengths and academic areas of synergy for collaboration. Faculty explored topics specific to their disciplines, engaging through meetings, roundtable discussions, and departmental tours.

“Our visit to Queen's University Belfast and the University of Bristol can be described in three words: productive, eye-opening, and stimulating,” said Professor of Computational Media Sri Kurniawan. “Exchanging ideas with their leading researchers on assistive technology, particularly regarding virtual reality games for individuals with autism, was a definite highlight.”

During the visits, faculty also learned more about opportunities to apply for joint research funding such as the United States-Republic of Ireland-Northern Ireland R&D Partnership and those provided by UK Research and Innovation. Several Faculty Seminar participants have already capitalized on the momentum of the trip and engaged in follow-up online meetings with the new QUB and Bristol faculty connections they developed to discuss proposal submissions for these grant opportunities.

Beyond the new connections forged at QUB and Bristol, the Faculty Seminar also fostered community and deepened relationships among the UC Santa Cruz faculty themselves. Professor of Performance, Play, and Design Patty Gallagher remarked that the trip, “was an exercise in inspiration and possibility.” The opportunity to travel together as a group afforded many an opportunity for a lively exchange of ideas and spontaneous conversations around potential interdisciplinary collaborations both at home at UC Santa Cruz and with partners abroad.

“The conversations among UCSC, Queen's Belfast, and the University of Bristol generated many ideas for intercampus and interdisciplinary collaboration and connection. We found ways to extend the reach of our teaching and scholarship,” said Gallagher. “Many of us have already made plans for Global Classroom projects, student exchanges, research, and performance projects.”

Gallagher concluded, “I'm immensely grateful to our campus Global Engagement office for connecting our universities, and for making us aware of these international opportunities.”

Engineering faculty travel to India

In March, Dean of the Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE) Alexander Wolf led a delegation of faculty to visit India to strengthen existing partnerships with several institutions, and to explore potential partnerships with others.

The group, including Ian Lane, Roberto Manduchi, Razvan Marinescu, and Josh Stuart from BSOE visited IIIT Hyderabad, IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur, Shiv Nadar University, Ashoka University, and IIT Madras. Faculty explored potential research collaborations, grant funding possibilities, and shared perspectives toward addressing pressing global challenges.

“I was interested in traveling to India with colleagues to educate ourselves in the different cultural, pedagogic, and administrative environments, and to explore collaborative research and educational opportunities,” said Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Roberto Manduchi. “I also saw a real opportunity to explore possible pathways to facilitate applications of qualified Indian students to our graduate programs."

Assistant Professor Razvan Marinescu also recognized the potential for this trip to attract new graduate students to UC Santa Cruz, and to uncover complementary institutional research strengths. “I wanted to enhance recruitment of excellent PhD students and use the trip as a vehicle to advertise the PhD programs at UC Santa Cruz,” said Marinescu. “I was also seeking to establish research collaborations in key areas of focus in my lab.”

At IIT Delhi and IIT Kanpur in particular, the delegation engaged in conversations that will continue at the UCSC-IIT Summer Research Symposium in July.

Expanding and enhancing globally-focused research and teaching through engaging faculty and fostering global collaborations is key to the UC Santa Cruz Strategic Plan for Internationalization, and provides a foundation for deepening opportunities for students, elevating research impact, and reinforcing institutional reputation.