CWRU, Brazilian education agency commit to collaborative academic programs

Memorandum of Understanding signing
Jorge Almeida Guimaraes, president of the Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education, and W.A. “Bud” Baeslack, provost of Case Western Reserve, sign a memorandum of understanding.

A 2012 trip to Brazil to explore opportunities for a single dual doctoral program this week evolved into a far-reaching commitment between the South American country and Case Western Reserve.

The partnership calls for qualified Brazilian students to take graduate courses and earn advanced degrees at this campus, while university faculty and students will be able to pursue research collaborations and other academic projects in Brazil.

“The Brazilian government recognizes the preeminence of our university, and we see enormous potential for scholarly collaboration,” Provost and Executive Vice President W.A. “Bud” Baeslack III said. “We welcome the opportunities this arrangement can bring.”

Baeslack participated in a signing ceremony Monday with Jorge Almeida Guimarães, president of the Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES), part of Brazil’s Ministry of Education.

The connection to CAPES emerged after faculty from Case School of Engineering and Associate Provost for International Affairs David Fleshler first visited Brazil to gauge universities’ interest in launching a dual doctoral degree program in polymer engineering and biomedical engineering. Subsequent visits by engineering and medical school faculty members highlighted additional collaborative possibilities, and ultimately drew President Guimarães to campus this summer. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed Monday formalizes some of the opportunities discussed, and contemplates additional initiatives for the future.

Included within the signed agreement, for example, is a “Medical Scholars Mobility Program” that calls for the Brazilian government to provide scholarships for students who enroll at the medical school for clinical training, courses, and degree programs including a Master’s in Public Health or PhD in basic sciences.

“Our conversations with President Guimarães and his delegation proved most constructive,” said Mark Chance, the medical school’s vice dean for research. “We look forward to continuing them.”

The agreement also contemplates enrolling Brazilian students in graduate and professional programs at the Case School of Engineering and the School of Dental Medicine. This fall, for example, four students from Brazil are enrolled in dentistry through a separate program of the Brazilian government. In addition, as part of this week’s visit, representatives from several Brazilian universities attended meetings and a workshop with Case Western Reserve faculty to explore potential collaborative opportunities. The representatives were at CWRU for a workshop, tours and, most importantly, meetings with CWRU researchers to begin finding ways to implement the MOU.

“This initial Memorandum of Understanding provides a foundation for additional graduate education and research collaborations across the university,” Fleshler said. “It holds the promise of significant benefits for both Case Western Reserve and Brazil.”

The growing relationship provides increased avenues for Case Western Reserve faculty to forge research partnerships with professors in Brazilian institutions of higher education. In addition, students here may have new possibilities to pursue research there.

The agreement signed Monday includes extensive stipulations regarding student qualifications, as well as the duties of educational leaders from both parties. At the same time, the document envisions potential partnerships in science and health-related fields, subject to additional dialogue. Shared research, including the exchange of health data in compliance with applicable laws, also is being considered.