Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago is the director of The Community Leadership Center at Rutgers University in Camden, which is internationally partnered with the University of Havana, in Cuba, Paraguay and the Center for Puerto Rico. These collaborations serve to develop new programs and certifications at the universities and to create opportunities for students and faculty.
This research collaboration emerges as a result of over a decade of work in cultivating academic opportunities for partnerships grounded on academic and scholarly interests. Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Rutgers Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor, has been leading these partnership efforts, and in the process, was able to create opportunities for Rutgers students and faculty to visit Cuba and collaborate with selected faculty on study abroad projects; study trips; visits to local development projects; and collaboration with scholarly presentations in international conferences. A Fall 2016 conference built on these early and consistent exchanges, where Rutgers and University of Havana leaders updated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). With a new era in US-Cuba relations developing, the timing was feasible to expand and deepen the opportunities for faculty in both institutions to partner.
Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago is working as a Fulbright Specialist with the Universidad Nacional de Asunción (UNA) in Paraguay to conduct workshops and training around professional development and educational pipelines.
International Studies through Rutgers at Puerto Rico
Dr. Santiago is currently overseeing Geoconda Idrovo and Natasha Young, two students who are part of the MPA (Master in Public Administration) program at Rutgers University in Camden, are doing overseas service interning in Puerto Rico at the Center for Puerto Rico, the programmatic arm of the Sila M. Calderón Foundation.
One project they are undertaking is a feasibility study focused on community development, through Rutgers’ MPA program. Idrovo and Young are currently involved in data collection, and are helping to produce an in-depth proposal for program accreditation in Puerto Rico.
Another project the pair of MPA students is undertaking centers around expanding the Center for Puerto Rico’s Green Market Initiatives (Mercado Verde). The project provides women in agriculture with spaces for selling and marketing their products, and is including a focus on sustainable agriculture by creating workshops engineered to promote urban farming, the sharing of new techniques, and consumption of locally grown food. This project has given Idrovo and Young the chance to collaborate with community organizations, university professors, technical experts, and local business owners to develop a strategy centered around achieving the desired goals for the project.
Academic Scholars Exchange
The Community Leadership Center (CLC) coordinates opportunities for faculty and students from international universities to study in Camden or abroad to apply research around education and community development to solve issues of urban poverty and social inequalities. Students and faculty have studied at the CLC from the following countries:
- Puerto Rico