Partnership with Universidad de Concepción
2013 Heiskell Award Winner: International Exchange Partnerships
Nomination submitted by: Dr. Ann B. Radwan, Associate VP International Affairs
Program Overview: St. Cloud State University and the Universidad de Concepción, located in Concepción, Chile, began a relationship in 2001 that turned into a multi-dimensional collaboration in the ensuing years. The strategic partnership has made significant contributions to the curricular and co-curricular experiences of students from both institutions over the past 11 years and has attracted the financial and training support of a major health provider in Minnesota. The two partner universities developed programs that engaged faculty and students in the social sciences, languages, the sciences, nursing and education.
The partnership has benefitted both institutions and their communities in a way neither could have predicted even as the relationship matured. American nursing students focused on Spanish language acquisition head to Chile in order to serve their Chilean clients in public health facilities in Concepción. In the spirit of reciprocity, nursing students from Chile came to SCSU to take courses, to intern at the central Minnesota health care corporation, CentraCare, and to provide public health support to local Hispanic community NGO’s.
Faculty from both institutions designed and created one of the first Latin America Studies Centers in Latin America at the Universidad of Concepción, offering multidisciplinary courses in Spanish and in English, a design that has attracted North American and European students. Annually, 14 St. Cloud students are able to earn academic and experiential learning credit by enrolling in the courses designed for the Latin American Studies Center and by working with local NGOs.
Another key outcome is the creation of a relationship between the State of Minnesota and the VIII Region (Bío-Bío) of the Republic of Chile, which was initiated with the help of an SCSU alumnus from Concepción when the governor of Minnesota visited Concepción in December 2009 and signed a declaration of association with his counterpart in the VIII Region. The two partner universities have remained committed to working together with their respective communities. CentraCare has been very active in working with both universities and made a major donation to the regional hospital in Concepción after the massive earthquake that struck the area in 2010. In addition, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce is working with both universities and the Chilean Commission for Indigenous Development (CONADI) to bring a delegation of Mapuche indigenous leaders to Minnesota to work on economic development issues.
SCSU recognizes that partnerships foster goodwill, breed social trust and further the norms of reciprocity. The program is a noteworthy model for international partnerships, where experiences of students and faculty not only enrich their individual lives, but fuel the growth and vibrancy of open exchange and discourse in both the United States and in Chile.