Environmental program with Brazil expands international options for Fairfield University students


Fairfield University students interested in environmental studies will now have the opportunity to work in a joint program with their peers in Brazil, thanks to a $200,000 grant from The Foundation for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education. Fairfield is part of a four-university consortium that will bring students from the United States and Brazil together to study environmental problems in both a global and North-South context.

This is but the latest in a wide range of study abroad options that are increasingly popular with Fairfield University students who want to have a global view of the subjects they are studying. Most international studies majors at Fairfield, for instance, spend one or two semesters abroad in Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, Japan, China, the Middle East, Australia and Latin America.

For the last five years Fairfield has had a partnership with Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia, which has led to an exchange of faculty and students and Fairfield has a Florence campus that offers courses in fine arts, the humanities and social sciences. Nursing students have the option of studying for a semester at Harlaxton College in England where they have clinical experience under a system financed by the British National Health Service.

Shorter study abroad opportunities are available in programs such as the "French Experience in Paris and Angers," a 17-day intensive language program, or in Ireland and Munich and Berlin.

In the environmental studies program in Brazil, Fairfield is partnering with Washington and Lee University in Virginia to work with the Universidade Federal do Amazonas and its partner, Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense in Brazil. Non-academic partners include Centro do Tecnologia Mineral on the Brazilian side and the Audubon Society on the American side.

Under the four-year grant, Brazilian and U.S. undergraduate students from the four schools will participate in an exchange program and work together on research projects, with their faculty collaborating on research as well. As a result, a set of internet-based academic resources will be developed for use by other universities in Brazil and the United States and in countries throughout the world.

Dr. Dina Franceschi, assistant professor of economics, whose specialty is environmental economics with a focus on Brazil and global sustainable development, is leading the Fairfield team for the U.S.-Brazil grant. Working with her are Dr. Katherine Kidd, director of the International Studies Program, and Dr. Lisa Newton, director of the Program in Environmental Studies. Dr. W. Nickerson Hill, associate professor of modern languages and literatures, is coordinating the language component of the grant.

Dr. Franceschi knows well the value of studying in other cultures. While in graduate school, she visited Brazil several times, including a six-month stint in 1998 when she was collecting data and doing field work. She has presented much of her research at conferences around the world and has published on the subject of "Sustainable Development in Economies Using Exhaustable Resources."

"I'm very excited to get a student and faculty exchange going between these two countries that share so much in common and yet have great differences," she commented. While the United States and Brazil are similar in size, population and diversity, she noted that they differ greatly in economic stature and development.

Dr. Kidd, another strong proponent of students studying abroad, has conducted research in Tanzania and been active with student and faculty groups traveling to and working in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Russia. She said she was delighted students would gain a better understanding of Brazil's culture and ecological, political and social environments. "Having the opportunity to live and study in another culture is truly a life-changing experience for students," she said.

The international exposure students receive can also be beneficial when applying for grants. In the last nine years Fairfield students have garnered 26 Fulbrights to countries around the world. In the same way, experience students gain while studying abroad can make them desirable candidates for graduate programs and for employment with international companies.

Fairfield graduates have gone on to work in consulting and research with Arthur Andersen and in financial services with GE Capital, Lehman Brothers, Goldman-Sachs, and USB (Swiss Bank). In addition students have joined Hugo Boss, the Mediterranean Shipping Corporation, Starwood Hotels, Expeditors International, International Executive Service Corps and IREX or International Research and Exchange Board.

Additional information may be obtained by contacting Fairfield University's Office of Study Abroad at (203) 254-4220.

Dina Franceschi and Joseph Masullo

Dr. Dina Franceschi, assistant professor of economics at Fairfield University, shows economics major Joseph Masullo of New Canaan, Conn., the area in Brazil where Fairfield faculty and students will be doing research.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 15, 2002

Vol. 34, No. 132