US-Brazil ties strengthened through new university center


Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S.-Brazil ties grew a little closer this month with the opening of Columbia University of New York’s new Global Center in Rio de Janeiro.The 2,500-square-foot (232-square-meter) facility in the heart of the city’s commercial center will serve as a hub for Columbia University programs throughout Brazil and will explore collaboration with Brazilian universities in education, public health, journalism and sustainability. Professor Thomas Trebat will head the new center.

Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King’s College. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth-oldest in the United States. The university views a network of global centers as the next step in its long history as an international research university, and now operates eight around the world. In addition to Rio, they are located in: Santiago, Chile; Nairobi, Kenya; Beijing; Paris; Istanbul; Mumbai, India; and Amman, Jordan.

In her remarks March 20 at the opening of the Rio Global Center, Rebecca Blank, acting U.S. secretary of commerce, said the center represents the “next natural stage in the U.S.-Brazil relationship.”

“From a foundation of robust exchange in goods, services and investments — all of which will continue to grow — we are now moving into sharing knowledge, ideas and innovation,” Blank said.

“Prior to the establishment of this center,” Blank said, “the ties between Columbia University’s faculty and Brazil’s scholars were already flourishing.” The new global center, she said, will deepen that relationship.

Blank added: “Leaders in both of our nations are beginning to understand the need for this type of outreach from our knowledge communities. … Both President Obama and President [Dilma] Rousseff know that investing in education is crucial if we want to make sure that the next generation — tomorrow’s workforce — is equipped with the skills they need to lead.”

“It’s particularly important,” Blank said, “that our young people learn to understand and operate in a global world. This means they need to feel comfortable in countries other than their own.”

According to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, “The driving principle of the Columbia global centers always has been to foster academic collaboration across national boundaries, discover new knowledge and address challenges facing our society by connecting students and faculty on our home campuses in New York City to partners around the world.”

Bollinger added: “It is fitting that Rio de Janeiro, a truly global capital, completes the initial phase in the evolution of Columbia global centers, and we look forward to working here in ways that not only deepen our own understanding of Brazil and South America but enhance our contributions to life and learning.”