Memoranda of Understanding Signed between Columbia University and Chilean Institutions

March 21, 2012

On March 18, on the occasion of the launching of the Columbia Global Centers | Latin America in Santiago, Chile, Columbia University signed four memoranda of understanding with Chilean institutions.  One of them, which establishes a framework for awarding State-funded scholarships for Chilean graduate students admitted to eligible doctoral programs at CU,  was announced at a ceremony hosted by President Sebastián Piñera at the La Moneda Presidential Palace and attended by a Columbia delegation headed by President Lee C. Bollinger.

The other three MOUs were subscribed by during the CGC launching ceremony held at Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM). They re:

  • An agreement between Chile’s National Mining Society (SONAMI) with CU’s Earth Institute and School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), which establishes a model for graduate students to study the dynamic interplay between a mining company and its surrounding communities.  This will be done through field placements with a private sector company committed to sustainability.  Academic support will come from the Santiago Global Center, a Columbia faculty advisor, and the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment.
  • An agreement between Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Columbia University’s Earth Institute, which will foster research, scientific partnerships, and student exchange for the purpose of advancing public policy making in sectors essential to Chile’s development.
  • And, an agreement between the Universidad Diego Portales and Columbia’s Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS), which is designed to lead to the exchange of researchers and faculty, and to the organization of joint academic conferences and seminars.

The details for these four MOUs are as follows:


1) MOU Between Columbia University and CONICYT

The Advanced Human Capital Development Program is a framework for awarding Becas Chile Doctoral Scholarships to Chilean residents admitted to eligible Ph.D. programs at Columbia. CONICYT has initially committed to awarding up to 15 graduate fellowships annually, which will provide students with full funding for four years.

The Program was created in light of both institutions’ common interests in training highly qualified human capital, and CONICYT’s mission to increase access and promote equal opportunities for Chileans who wish to pursue advanced graduate studies in universities of excellence around the world.

The Agreement applies to the four academic years at Columbia beginning July 1, 2013 and ending June 30, 2017. It will be renewed automatically for successive periods of three academic years. 

About CONICYT: The National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research is an agency in the Ministry of Education and administrator of the Becas Chile Program. CONICYT is dedicated to developing human capital and strengthening the country’s scientific and technological base for socio-economic development and global competitiveness.

About Becas Chile: The Bicentennial System for the Training of Advanced Human Capital Abroad, commonly known as Becas Chile, provides scholarships for graduate studies outside the country. Aimed at developing academics, professionals and scientists of the highest caliber who will be productive, creative, innovative and entrepreneurial, 5,809 scholarships have been awarded since the program’s creation in 2008 (as of December, 2011).


2) MOU between CU’s Earth Institute and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

This MOU enables cooperative efforts between the Earth Institute and CCG-UC in mutually agreed areas of research and other scholarly activities. Opportunities for scientific collaboration and academic and student exchange will be explored in common areas of interest, such as global change impacts on key ecosystems and on society, management of climate-related risks in key socioeconomic sectors, management of the food-water-energy nexus, economics of global change and sustainability science.

Priority will be given to activities with the potential to contribute to public policy and decision-making in sectors that are key to Chile’s development. Research projects and collaborations will have written work plans and agreements. The MOU will have a term of five years and can be renewed or amended by written mutual consent.  
About the Pontificia Universidad Católica: Ranked the #2 university in Latin America by QS University Rankings (2011), PUC has 18 faculties and enrolls 19,836 undergraduate students, 2,380 masters students, and 832 doctoral students. It employs 1,519 full-time faculty members and 1,360 adjuncts.

About CCG-UC: The Centro de Cambio Global (Center for Global Change) is an alliance between four PUC faculties: Agronomy and Forestry, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Economics and Administration. Founded in 2009, its mission is to promote academic collaboration on global change. Research areas include energy, biodiversity, ecosystems, hydraulic resources, agriculture, forestry and regional sustainable development.


3) MOU between CU’s ILAS and Universidad Diego Portales

This MOU between the Institute of Latin American Studies and IPP creates a framework for exploring potential collaboration in the following areas:

  1. The reciprocal exchange of research and teaching staff;
  2. Research collaboration in fields of mutual interest between research staff, departments, and schools at both institutions;
  3. The organization of joint academic and scientific activities, such as courses, conferences, seminars, symposia or lectures.

About Universidad Diego Portales: One of Chile’s top private universities, UDP has nine faculties, enrolls over 12,000 students and employs 1,476 professors. Founded in 1982, QS University Rankings listed it as one of the top-100 universities in Latin America (2011).

About IPP: The Instituto de Políticas Públicas (public policy institute) is located in the School of Economics at UDP. Founded in 2011, its mission is to contribute to the creation of public policies that will help Chile reach full development and to train outstanding policy makers prepared for this task. Its Director, Gregory Elacqua, has an MIA from SIPA.    


4) Terms of Reference between CU’s Earth Institute and SIPA with the Chilean Mining Society (SONAMI)

The Earth Institute’s Master of Public Administration in Development Practice (MPA-DP) and SONAMI are working together to provide students with the opportunity to study the development dynamics of a mining company and its surrounding community during a 2012 Summer Professional Field Placement.

Chilean mining companies have a history of long-term commitments to improving the well being of communities around mines. During this three-month field placement, the MPA-DP students will engage with the implementation of targeted interventions (such as vocational training, infrastructure development and social programs in areas of health, agriculture and education) from a private sector perspective. At the end of their field placement, they will prepare a document that details their work and outlines their findings in a specific area of focus.

About SONAMI: Founded in 1883, the National Mining Society is a trade association that works to boost development in the private mining sector, improve working environments, promote relevant legislation, and encourage training and professional development. Current members include 50 medium and large mining companies and suppliers, as well as 38 regional mining associations, integrating more than 3,000 smaller mining companies.