York signs agreement with Organization of American States

York University has signed an agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS) to join its Consortium of Universities. This means that graduate students from member states who have been awarded OAS scholarships will be able to hold them at York.

 "In a very tangible way it unites graduate education and internationalization in a part of the world where York has historically been heavily involved, creating unique opportunities for students and researchers," said Douglas Peers, dean of York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies.

York has a long history of significant engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean and is known as a Canadian leader in the field. The Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program (LACS) was created in 1972 and the Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean (CERLAC), which now has links with more than 50 institutions in 20 countries in the region, was established in 1978.

Sustaining and strengthening this historic connection is a priority of York’s internationalization strategy. Associate Vice-President International Adrian Shubert points to a number of accomplishments over the past five years.

Right: York intern Leili Egea Farzannejad with her class in La Quemazon, Peru

There are several new institutional partnerships: in Mexico (Universidad de Monterrey, and Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), Costa Rica (Universidad de Costa Rica), Venezuela (Universidad de los Andes), Argentina (Universidad Nacional General Sarmiento) and Brazil (Universidade de São Paulo, Universidade Federal de Bahia, Universidade Federal Fluminense and the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro).

The Art Gallery of York University has also become active in Latin America and is developing an agreement for artist residencies with the Daros Foundation in Rio de Janeiro. York is also part of a five-university consortium which has a visiting professorship in Brazilian Studies. The other universities are Calgary, Western Ontario, Québec à Montréal and St. Mary’s.

The CIDA-funded RedLEIDH Project on Human Rights Education in Latin America, which connects CERLAC and York’s Osgoode Hall Law School with the Association of Jesuit Universities of Latin America, has recently started. Two other CIDA-funded projects have recently been concluded. York Professor Ricardo Grinspun’s project, Promoting Sustainable Development in Chile, involved the Catholic University of Temuco, and York Professor Ellie Perkins’ Sister Watersheds Project involved the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) and ECOAR, a highly-respected non-government organization. Perkins’ project included the exchange of 15 graduate students between York and USP and has led to the creation of an ongoing, weekly Brazil seminar.

York Vice-President Students Rob Tiffin has created scholarships specifically for students from Latin America and the Caribbean, and Calum MacKechnie, director of the York English Language Institute (YUELI), has offered scholarships for the institute’s summer English courses, travel and accommodation included, to a number of York’s new partners, both universities and NGOs. Telelatino has donated a scholarship worth $1,000 for a student working on Latin America.

York International has also been active in the region, offering a version of its prize-winning Emerging Global Leaders Program (EGLP) to high school students in Barbados since 2004, and to students in St. Kitts and Nevis and the other members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States since 2003. Since its inception in 2004, the York International Internship Program (YIIP) has always had a large number of placements across the region. This summer, there are York student interns in St. Kitts, Barbados, Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

There have also been some exciting initiatives in academic programs. Glendon has experimented with teaching a course on Latin American politics in Spanish. It has also just introduced a trilingual International BA degree in which students must study Spanish as well as French and English. At Osgoode, Professor Shin Imai has developed a course on Latin American law which will be taught in Spanish starting in the 2008-09 academic year, and the Osgoode library has decided to make a significant investment in Spanish-language publications.

Eduardo Canel, director of CERLAC, says "These diverse initiatives demonstrate York’s innovative approach to teaching and research on Latin America and the Caribbean. Our world-class programs and internationally recognized professors make us leaders in the field of Latin American and Caribbean studies in Canada. The efforts of faculty and students are supported by York’s unequivocal commitment to internationalize our university. The upcoming trip to Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina by Vice-President Embleton and Associate Vice-President Shubert demonstrates the importance being given to Latin America."