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Northeastern secures academic partnerships for co-ops, research in Cuba

May 6, 2016 - BOSTON, MA. - Vice Provost, Susan Ambrose, Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education & Experiential Learning signs of NU-FANJ Agreement on May 10, 2016. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Northeastern University has signed agreements with institutions in Cuba officially establishing partnerships that will lead to a range of new academic opportunities—from global co-ops to research—for Northeastern students and faculty.

University leaders and faculty from Northeastern met on campus Tuesday with a Cuban delegation from the Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez and the University of Havana to sign the agreements, which come on the heels of a Northeastern delegation’s visit to Cuba in March to explore academic and research partnerships there. The recent moves to begin normalizing of relations between the United States and Cuba paved the way for Northeastern to pursue these opportunities.

While a handful of U.S. higher education institutions already offer study abroad and language immersion programs in Cuba, these new partnerships position Northeastern at the forefront of expanding academic opportunities in the country. They will also serve as the foundation for other potential partnerships with these two institutions in the future.

Under President Joseph E. Aoun’s leadership, Northeastern has significantly expanded its signature co-op program on a global scale. Students engaged in experiential learning opportunities in 131 countries from 2006 to 2014, and there were 10,395 co-op placements in 2014-15—up from 6,301 in 2006-07. Northeastern counts more than 3,100 co-op employers in the U.S. and around the world.

The Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez, or FANJ, is an environmental research non-governmental organization that primarily engages in studying the impacts of climate change on Cuba and promoting the environmental-consciousness of the Cuban people. Under the memorandum of understanding signed with Northeastern, FANJ would accept co-op students and work with Northeastern faculty to establish joint marine science, environmental sustainability, and social science-related research projects.

The partnership would leverage the expertise and work at Northeastern’s Marine Science Center in Nahant, Massachusetts, and Urban Coastal Sustainability Initiative.

The other agreement is a letter of intention signed jointly by Northeastern and the University of Havana’s School of Communication. Under the agreement, the institutions would work to create global experiential learning opportunities for Northeastern students and joint research collaborations between the two institutions across multiple fields of discipline. Northeastern and the University of Havana have also discussed other potential opportunities to collaborate with the Cuban university, including at its Marine Research Center.

Uta Poiger, (right) dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, signs an agreement with the University of Havana. At left is Déborah Torres Ponjuán, vice dean for information and technological development at the University of Havana's School of Communication. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Uta Poiger, (right) dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, signs an agreement with the University of Havana. At left is Déborah Torres Ponjuán, vice dean for information and technological development at the University of Havana’s School of Communication. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

These agreements also dovetail with Northeastern’s efforts to help universities in Latin America and the Caribbean bolster their study abroad and student exchange programs. In 2014 Northeastern received a grant, which was sponsored by the Santander Universities division of Santander Bank, as part of the Obama administration’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative. The initiative aims to strengthen bi-national relations and better prepare young people for the 21st-century global workforce.