Building a bridge across 'The Pond'

SCSU group shot
SCSU group shot

In the year Cunard celebrates the 175th anniversary of its first crossing, LJMU and Southern Connecticut State University jointly announce a trans-Atlantic alliance which will offer increased opportunities for students at both institutions.

The collaborative agreement will give students the chance to study on both sides of the Atlantic as well as benefiting from dual taught postgraduate programmes, delivered by LJMU and SCSU lecturers through video link and guest lectures. There will also be opportunities to take part in field trips with both sets of students, and joint research projects are being comprehensively planned, including the co-supervision of postgraduate research students. By 2017 it is anticipated that hundreds of students will have benefited from the opportunity to study at both campuses.

There are a range of commonalities between the two universities; programmes and Faculty structure are alike and LJMU and SCSU share a similar mission: to provide access to higher education, support the development of skills and knowledge capabilities and address the problems of the 21st century. The Alliance was formalised during a recent visit from SCSU staff members to LJMU. Academics specialising in Anthropology, Business, Computer Science, Creative Writing, Education, English, Nursing, Public Health, Sport & Leisure, and Tourism & Event Management from both institutions worked together to identify areas which will be developed under the new Alliance.

Based in the culturally vibrant city of New Haven, Connecticut, midway between Boston and New York City, Southern Connecticut State University was originally founded in 1893 as a teacher-training school. It became a fully comprehensive university in 1983 and today educates more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 114 programmes through its Schools of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Health and Human Services.

With its home in the historic port city of Liverpool, LJMU traces its roots back nearly 200 years to 1823 and the opening of the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institute. Over the decades, the institute merged with other institutions to become Liverpool Polytechnic; traditionally providing training, education and research to the maritime industry, before earning university status in 1992. Now ranked among the top 400 universities world-wide, LJMU offers 250 degree courses to 25,000 students drawn from more than 100 countries.

LJMU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nigel Weatherill, said: “Our goal is for every student within each of our Universities to have the opportunity to study abroad. We also plan to develop a distinctive portfolio of dual programmes that will be delivered across both campuses and attract students from across the world to our institutions. Building a strong trans-Atlantic alliance between New England and North West England will position both universities to compete more strongly in their domestic markets and provide distinctive opportunities to new staff and students.”

SCSU President, Mary A. Papazian, commented: “In our increasingly inter-connected world both SCSU and LJMU recognize that skills development and problem solving require universities to be globally connected, providing students with international opportunities and supporting staff engagement with international networks. We are looking to grow complementary research strengths, skills and capabilities, and we will also add to our teaching and learning capabilities through joint academic positions, developing virtual spaces for online learning, and expanding our student exchange programs.”

The visitors from SCSU experienced field trips to the archaeological site in Poulton, Cheshire, with the Anthropology team, Formby Point, home of the UK’s largest collection of sand dunes, with the Geography team and they were also shown the cultural sites of the city of Liverpool, including trips to the theatres, museums and art galleries. Similar activities took place in Connecticut in October when LJMU visited SCSU.

The LJMU and SCSU Alliance is unique in its scope and intent. While both the UK and US higher education sectors are recognised as internationally pre-eminent, collaboration across the Atlantic remains surprisingly small-scale.

Guiding the alliance is a joint development group jointly chaired by LJMU Pro-Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement), Dr Edward Harcourt, and the Provost at SCSU, Dr Bette Bergeron. Discussions have been underway for 15 months and the development group will be meeting quarterly in 2015-16 to finalise the development of the Alliance.

A series of short films documenting the SCSU visit is available online.

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