Although MSU faculty work across the whole Latin American and Caribbean region, the center is currently focused on sustaining institutional partnerships in Brazil and Mexico and developing new institutional partnerships in Colombia and Peru.
In the early 2000s, MSU launched a Brazil Initiative, capitalizing on the large number of faculty pursuing research in Brazil and hiring additional high-profile faculty with expertise in Brazil. MSU faculty conduct research in partnership with scholars from top-ranked Brazilian institutions on topics that reflect MSU's institutional strengths in agriculture, energy and natural resource management.
CLACS played a key role in implementing the Brazil Scientific Mobility program at MSU, formerly known as Science Without Borders/Ciência Sem Fronteiras. This Brazilian government program aims to expand Brazilian scientific and technological innovation through international exchanges of students and researchers. The program has brought hundreds of Brazilian students to MSU.
The availability of advanced training in Portuguese for graduate students is critical to the success of MSU teams conducting field research in Brazil and for collaboration with Brazilian counterparts. Thus, in support of the Brazil Initiative, multiple units collaborated to significantly expand MSU's Portuguese curriculum to cover four full years of study.
MSU recently signed an agreement with Mexico's National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) that will fund Mexican students to pursue Masters and Ph.D. studies at MSU. CLACS collaborates with the Graduate School and the Office of Admissions to recruit sponsored graduate students from Mexico in CONACYT's priority fields of natural sciences, engineering, environmental sciences, agricultural and biotechnological sciences, health sciences and energy. This initiative will increase MSU faculty's capacity for research in Mexico in the short term and create a broad network of scholars with whom MSU faculty may collaborate in future research.
MSU also participated in the Mexican government funded, Proyecta 100,000, a program that brings non-degree students to MSU for specialized, short-term training. Such programs provide an opportunity for MSU to recruit top Mexican students to return to our campus for graduate study.
In collaboration with the Center for Global Connections in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, CLACS has engaged Colombian government and university partners, as well as the US Embassy, to develop projects that will promote sustainable rural development in the post-conflict period. MSU is focusing especially on the management of water resources.
To broaden MSU's engagement with Colombia's post-conflict trajectory, CLACS awarded Strategic Partnership Funds to a social science-humanities team to explore efforts by civil society organizations to shape rural development policies and pursue reconciliation.
Additionally, CLACS has supported MSU's partnership with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), headquartered in Cali Colombia. MSU's institutional strength in agriculture advances CIAT's strategic initiative on sustainable food systems.
The Peruvian government seeks to increase research productivity at Peruvian universities through engagement with international partners. In response, CLACS is facilitating research partnerships between MSU faculty and Peruvian institutions with complementary strengths. CLACS awarded 2015-16 Strategic Partnership Funds to promote research in agriculture and health.