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Innovative Approaches to Interdisciplinary Graduate Research and Training


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  • 1. Innovative Approaches toInterdisciplinary GraduateResearch and TrainingHannah CovertMary RisnerCenter for Latin American StudiesUniversity of FloridaLASA 2006San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • 2. Introduction What makes a research and trainingprogram innovative? Practical, real-world focus Recognition that graduates will pursuecareers outside academia Multiple learning activities outside theclassroom
  • 3. Overview Case descriptionsLatin American Business EnvironmentProgram (LABE)Tropical Conservation and DevelopmentProgram (TCD) Challenges Program development –group/individual work
  • 4. Latin American Business EnvironmentProgram (LABE) Mission Administrative Structure Concentration Requirements Affiliate Faculty/Departments Student Profiles Program Components Alumni
  • 5. MissionEstablished in 1998 by Dr. Terry McCoy, Professor ofPolitical Science/Latin AmericanistMission: Provide interdisciplinary training thatintegrates business knowledge, expertise onregional issues, language fluency and culturalsensitivity to prepare students for the unique andoften difficult Latin American business climate.Funding: Core support from federal CIBER grant Other grants from private, state and federal sources
  • 6. Administrative Structure Program/Concentration within the Center for LatinAmerican Studies with support from UF CIBER (Centerfor International Business Education and Research) Director Assistant Director 8 Affiliate Faculty in 7 departments Graduate Assistants
  • 7. Concentration Requirements 30 credits Interdisciplinary thesis Proficiency in one Latin American language Required Credits (8): Latin AmericanBusiness, Latin American Economics, DataAnalysis, Business-related (15) Elective Credits (7)
  • 8. Affiliate Departments Economics Political Science Public Relations Finance Law Advertising Food and Resource Economics
  • 9. Student Background/Profiles Economics Latin American Studies Marketing Spanish Anthropology International Studies World Politics International Affairs
  • 10. Program ComponentsStudy Abroad Summer Business in Rio FIPSE Semester Exchange Study Tour (Brazil, Argentina, Chile)Internships Prudential in Brazil Motorola Local firms working with Latin America
  • 11. Language Training Business Spanish Business PortugueseCorporate Career ConferenceBusiness faculty and corporate speakers
  • 12. Alumni Placement Citigroup Johnson & Johnson Deloitte Consulting LLP Accenture Consulting
  • 13. Tropical Conservation and DevelopmentProgram (TCD) Established in 1980s by an interdisciplinary groupof UF faculty Mission To advance biodiversity conservation, sustainableresources management, and the welfare of ruralpeople in the tropics through interdisciplinarygraduate education, research, and collaborativelearning and practice. Funding State, federal, and private foundation support Endowment that provides funds for fellowships,research grants and other program activities
  • 14. Administrative Structure Housed in the UF Center for LatinAmerican Studies Director Associate Director Program Coordinator (part-time) 6 Core Faculty (Executive Committee) 80 Affiliate Faculty in 21 departments Curriculum Committee Graduate Assistants
  • 15. FrameworkLearning & ActionPlatformTheoryTheory PraxisPraxisSkillsSkillsproblemcenteredfieldapplicationleadershippersonalDisciplinaryfoundationslearning &actionnetworkStudentexperienceBiophysicalSciencesSocialSciencesCollaborative
  • 16. Concentration Requirements MA level – 12 credits PhD level – 15 credits Core Courses Tropical Conservation and Development Seminar Interdisciplinary Methods and Research Design Practical Skills Tropical Ecology course Social Science course Thesis/Dissertation related to biodiversityconservation and/or sustainable development
  • 17. Affiliate Departments Agricultural Education &Communication Agronomy Anthropology Botany Comparative Law Food & ResourceEconomics Geography Geological Sciences Forest Resources &Conservation Latin American Studies Natural Resources &Environment Plant Medicine Political Science Religion Sociology Soil & Water Sciences Tourism, Recreation &Sports Management Urban & RegionalPlanning Wildlife Ecology &Conservation Women’s Studies Zoology
  • 18. Student Profile 80 students enrolled 50% from Latin America, 50% fromthe U.S. Average age: 32 60% female 45% with 4-10 years of experienceprior to graduate school
  • 19. Program Components – AlternativeLearning Spaces Field Research Grants Practitioner Experiences Visiting Professionals Tropilunch - Student led SeminarSeries Orientations Workshops
  • 20. Alumni Approximately 250 alumni 26% Academia 22% NGO 17% Graduate School 12% Other 12% Government 6% Unknown 5% Consultant
  • 21. Program ChallengesLABE and TCD Acquiring and maintaining funding University bureaucracy can cause serious headacheswhen hosting foreign visitors and conductinginternational researchLABE Finding colleagues from other departments who arewilling to participate Recruiting business students willing to learn a foreignlanguage Developing new business programs in Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America (due topolitical/economic instability)
  • 22. Program Challenges con’t.Internships/Study Abroad Transfer of credits Course equivalencies Visas Housing Mentoring and Supervision Company placement
  • 23. Program Challenges con’t.TCD Requires a lot of service from untenured (andtenured!) faculty – need strong professional supportfor advising, budget management, and programimplementation How do we engage all of our affiliate faculty? How do we balance current program managementand commitments with strategic planning for thefuture? Quite a few affiliate departments with zero or veryfew students enrolled – Is this a problem?
  • 24. Program Challenges con’t. Not all faculty support students toundertake interdisciplinarystudy/work Many of our potential students inLatin America have limited access toEnglish-language training
  • 25. How to Initiate a New Program? Choose region of interest according to yourexisting institutional strengths (academicresources and geographical location) Recruit interested/supportive faculty andadministration Seek potential sources of funding Focus your activities on what others don’t have Find university partners in area/region with whichto work…and communicate often Establish relationships with alumni and businessesto assist in program development and support Be willing to put forth much effort and havepatience
  • 26. Program Development: Group/IndividualWorkWant to create a new program? What are your institutional strengths thatmight indicate a focus? Potential partners, challenges? What are your goals for the next five years? Do you have departmental oradministrative support? Or can you get it?
  • 27. Program Development:Group/Individual WorkExisting Program? What new activities would you like toimplement? What would you change about existingactivities? Do you need to recruit students and/or affiliatefaculty? What’s your plan? What are your goals for the next five years? Do you know where your alumni are? Is your governance structure representative?
  • 28. Contact InformationHannah Coverthcovert@latam.ufl.edu Risnermrisner@latam.ufl.edu