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UM-Flint Expands Education Abroad Opportunities with New Agreement with German University

  • May 2nd, 2013 By: UM-Flint News

The Skinny

During the past year, representatives from the UM-Flint International Center and the BUW International Office have visited each institution and, with faculty, have already organized the initial student exchanges.

In mid-April the University of Michigan-Flint signed two memoranda-of-understanding (MOU) with Germany’s University of Wuppertal (Bergische Universitaet Wuppertal, or BUW).

UM-Flint Provost Gerard Voland and BUW Rector (President) Lambert T. Koch signed the MOUs that establish undergraduate student exchanges between UM-Flint’s Honors Program and School of Management (SOM) and several BUW Schools: its Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Mathematics & Natural Sciences, and  Schumpeter School of Business & Economics.

As the partnership between the two institutions develops, both campuses expect to expand study-abroad opportunities for students as well as develop collaborative faculty research initiatives.

During the past year, representatives from the UM-Flint International Center and the BUW International Office have visited each institution and, with faculty, have already organized the initial student exchanges.

During July-August 2013, five School of Management International Business students will reside in dormitories on the Wuppertal campus while interning with companies such as Vorwerk, Dornbracht, Knipex, SquareOneDesign, and Dupont. During the same period, five UM-Flint Honors Program students will spend six-to-eight weeks working as research assistants in BUW chemistry and biology labs, under the direction of German professors. BUW will also offer to visiting UM-Flint students specialized lectures and cultural excursions to Cologne, Bonn, Essen, and other regional sites.

In fall 2013, 10 BUW students will attend UM-Flint, taking courses in the School of Management and the College of Arts and Sciences. A few BUW students may also assist with English Language Program classes. UM-Flint, like BUW, will organize cultural and social excursions.  The two institutions will also establish a buddy-program for visiting students, peers helping peers navigate the two cultures.

During their April visit, BUW Rector Koch and UNESCO Professor of Economics Christine Volkmann discussed the initial exchanges and possible future faculty collaborations.  In July, a delegation of UM-Flint faculty will travel to Wuppertal to further investigate opportunities for expanding the partnership.

Rector Koch, as part of his Flint visit, delivered a lecture to 75 faculty and students in the Thompson Library atrium, “Germany in Europe: Present-Day Challenges.”  Rector Koch is a professor of economics who has served as an advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  In 2011 he was voted  “Rector of the Year”  by the 25,000-member German Association of University Professors .

The University of Wuppertal (BUW), established in 1972, is a German public university of 18,000 undergraduate and graduate students.  BUW maintains three campuses in Wuppertal , an industrial city of 350,000 located in western Germany, about a half-hour from Cologne and Duesseldorf.

Bayer Pharmaceuticals was founded in Barmen–a district of Wuppertal–in 1863. Bayer still maintains in the city an active research park.  In 2010 Bayer Healthcare began construction of a $47M Cell Biology Centre at its research facility. Other internationally known companies with offices in Wuppertal include Dupont, Delphi, Vorwerk, Membrana, Teijin Aramid, and the insurance companies Barmer GEK and Barmenia.

Wuppertal is also home to a wide variety of cultural institutions: concert hall, opera house, art museum, and the dance ensemble Tanztheatre Wuppertal, founded by internationally-recognized choreographer, the late Pina Bausch.

The partnership between UM-Flint and the University of Wuppertal grew out of conversations between Rector Koch and UM-Flint Library Director Robert Houbeck, during a 2011 sabbatical semester which the latter spent at BUW teaching American history and culture. UM-Flint Provost Voland has set an aggressive goal of expanding education abroad opportunities for students and had encouraged Director Houbeck to explore exchange opportunities with Wuppertal.

Senior Vice Provost Vahid Lotfi and International Center Director Daniel Adams, working with SOM Associate Dean Yener Kandogan and Honors Program Director Maureen Thum, worked closely with BUW counterparts Anja Kluge and Andrea Bieck, and German exchange consultant Claus Weimann, to establish the first exchanges. They selected students, identified lab and internship partners, and organized the academic and cultural program for the initial exchanges.

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