FACILITATING COLLABORATIONS FOR COMPETITIVENESS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
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AbstractThe CoHemis Center has been networking and facihtating North-South collaborations in science and technology within the Americas for several years before the Summit of the Americas and before the document Science in the National Interest con verted such coUaborations into official US policy. Through its five-year trajectory, CoHemis has demonstrated beyond doubt that it can contribute significantly to the attainment of the objectives of hemispheric integration in ways in which no one else can. Our Center has been able to get support and collaborations from government, academia and the prívate sector to organize many activities, both in Puerto Rico aJJ.d in Latin America. Between June 1994 and June 1996, we have brought 89 presenters from continental US and Latin America and 34 from Puerto Rico together with over 1140 attendees in Puerto Rico and overseas for workshops, conferences, and short courses on such themes as energy, environment, civil infrastructure, and waste disposal. During this period, CoH<rmis has organized 18 hemispheric conferences, workshops, and seminars in Puerto Rico and a short-course series in six Latín American cities that reached more than 431 persons. This has been achieved through collaboration with universities, prívate firms and national science and tedmology organizations in 15 countries in our hemisphere. Our Center has accumulated five years of goodwill, ties and collaborations with most of the national Science and Technology organizations in the hemisphere and is often treated as a Latín American organization in Latin America. In 1992 CoHemis began to forma hemispheric network which currently embraces 17 institutions in 10 countries, all committed to collaborate in the implementation of the above mission. The CoHemis Consortium is a still-growing, active network that constitutes a comprehensive, unique pool of resources for North-South collaborations in science and technology. It aims to indude at least one university teaching science and technology in every country of the Americas that has one. Thanks to the vision of NSF's Dr. Jolm B. Scalzi, and the support of UPR officials, CoHemis has beco me the hemispheric cooperation center f or science and technology. CoHemis' linkages to most national science and technology organizations in the Americas and its partnerships with key universities in many Latín American and Caribbean countries, complemented by a consistent newsletter and a 5-year record of successful activities and satisfied dients, make ita valuable way to reach the hemispheric science and technology community. Its setting within the University of Puerto Rico provides it with a unique advantage for achieving its objectives. The University of Puerto Rico is the only institution in the US jurisdiction that teaches mostly in Spanish and has a graduate school which covers engineering, natural, marine, medical, and agricultura sciences, business administration, planning, social sciences, environmental sciences, and public health. Its Mayagüez Campus has a faculty that is 80% Latín in a Land Grant university. In addition, UPR-Mayagüez is fully accredited, fully bilingual, has an international faculty and student body, and is located in a Spanish-speaking Caribbean island within a di verse community that is racially and politically tolerant. Presently, the mission of CoHemis is to facilitate coHaborative applied research, technology assessment, and human resources development programs to serve the needs of the Americas with the participation of engineers and scientists from the different countries of the hemisphere, while working towards the creation of the research center outlined by the 13 country delegates who participated in the 1991 NSF-sponsored conference that created our Center. These delegates recommended the eventual creation of a multinational applied research center, with headquarters in the University of Puerto Rico's science and engineering campus and coordinating work carried on there and at other collaborating institutions. This organization would bring together Latin American graduate students and researchers for six-month to two-year periods to work withAmerican and Canadian investigators on research funded by member country contributions and by internacional and North American sponsoring agencies. The part of the research carried on in the University of Puerto Rico will contribute to expand graduate programs in Puerto Rico, thus greatly increasing the number of Hispanic Ph.Ds. in the US and at the same time facilitating the integraüon of the scientific communities of the Americas. Puerto Ricans, specially Spanish-speaking island residents, are brothers and sisters to other Latin Americans. Unlike most other members of the US scientific community, Puerto Ricans can discuss issues with Latin Americans wüh nothing being lost in translations or cultural differences. Teaching, learning and thinking in the same language. Puerto Rican institutions such as the University of Puerto Rico and CoHemis can be very effective collaborators in getting the hemispheric Science and Technology integration goals achieved. CoHemis can participate in US delegations in hemispheric meetings on science and technology, andas a Latín American institution in Latin American organizations. The most significant contribution that UPR, CoHemis, and the CoHemis Consortium can make to hemispheric integration and sustainable and equitable development is the implementation of the applied research center outlined at the 1991 Conference. The following pages indude an overview of the Center since its beginnings anda presentation of CoHernis' achievements during the last two years. This report also features figures of contributions received as well as the Center's expenses. Pending projects, strategic opportunities and future plans are also presented.