By Nathan M. Walters, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – President Rousseff’s visit to the U.S. last week was a resounding success in at least one important respect: developing the Brazil “Science Without Borders” program. The goal is to increase student exchanges in areas vital to Brazil’s continued development (e.g. engineering, science, IT), to be achieved in large part by a five-year fellowship agreement concluded between Harvard University and the Brazilian government.
Harvard University maintains a well-earned reputation as one of the world’s leading institutions of higher education. The University’s agreement with Brazil is intended to continue a tradition of attracting the most talented doctoral, postdoctoral, and undergrad students from around the world.
“Knowledge and talent know no national boundaries, and the most pressing challenges humanity faces must be considered in the broadest possible context, a context that is interdisciplinary, a context that is international,” Harvard President Drew Faust said during Rousseff’s April 9th visit to Harvard Kennedy School of Government (HKS).
The new agreement will expand Harvard’s relationship with Brazil and, according to a statement released by the university, is intended to “eliminate financial barriers for talented Brazilian science students pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies at Harvard.”
Faust stated that, “With the signing of this agreement, the Brazilian government will be making a Harvard education in the fields of science and technology available to talented Brazilian students without regard to financial status, further strengthening the university’s ongoing efforts to increase access to education to the widest possible array of talent.”
All students will still be required to earn acceptance to the university through the highly competitive admissions process. The agreement’s main purpose is the establishment of a Brazilian government fund from which tuition and related expenses of the students can be paid.
The envisioned funding, to be provided by Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, will increase the number of Brazilian students at Harvard. The agreement furthers the objectives of the Science Without Borders by providing funding for thirty to forty Brazilian doctoral students, forty postdoctoral fellows, and a small number of undergraduates who are majoring in science or engineering areas to study at Harvard.
This agreement is of particular importance to Brazilian Ph.D. candidates as certain training grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation are only offered to U.S. Citizens. The agreement will significantly help ease the financial burden of visiting Ph.D. students.
Harvard has long focused on the benefits of international education. HKS Dean David T. Ellwood stated that the school, “is committed to cultivating a vibrant learning environment in which multiple perspectives are represented in the classroom.”
The tradition of encouraging different global perspectives at Harvard has made the university one of the most respected in the world and certainly played a part in Brazil’s decision to conclude the fellowship agreement. An agreement that, according to Jorge I. Dominguez, Harvard’s vice provost for international affairs, “is extremely farsighted on the part of the Brazilian government.”
Brazil continues to look further ahead on issues that are important to the country’s growth. High quality education in key sectors is a fundamental issue for the country to fully realize its potential as the sixth largest economy in the world.