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Strategic Partnership Funds

The Provost and the Dean of International Studies and Programs (ISP) have made available funds to develop strategic partnerships with universities and institutions of higher education and research abroad that focus on ISP's priority themes: food and agriculture, environment, health and nutrition, and education. These partnerships should involve faculty from more than one department and/or college at MSU. Collaborations that link Arts and Letters or Social Science faculty to the international themes are encouraged.

boat.jpgPartnerships should center on collaborative research, including proposal development and preliminary research activities that build institutional capacity around the ISP themes listed above. They should lead to long-term research and other collaborations between MSU and the partner institution. Funding may be granted for continued support to develop these partnerships, depending on the outcomes of the initial grant.

Strategic Partnership Funds will provide partial support of travel costs for MSU faculty to travel abroad to work with international partners or for those partners to travel to MSU. The applicant faculty members' colleges and/or departments will be expected to contribute a 20% match to ensure that the commitment to long-term partnering is shared by these units. These travel awards should ultimately result in the development and submission of a collaborative research proposal, that includes MSU and partner institution faculty, for external funding.

The target dates for submission of proposals for this fiscal year are October 15, 2023 and March 1, 2024 for travel that will be completed before June 15, 2024. However, we will continue to accept proposals and make awards for any remaining funds on a rolling basis until all funds have been expended. If you are developing a project that fits the requirements associated with these funds, we encourage you to contact us as you begin to make plans. Please submit proposals or inquiries via email to Dr. Laurie Medina, CLACS Director, at medina(at)

2019-20 CLACS Strategic Partnership Fund Awards


CLACS has supported several partnerships with top Peruvian universities, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (PUCP) and the National Agricultural University (UNALM), as well as CGIAR center partners in Peru.

In 2019-20, CLACS and GenCen collaborated to support an interdisciplinary team to develop multiple research agendas in the forestry sector. Emily Huff and Lauren Cooper (Forestry), Rowenn Kalman (Anthropology), and Brent Ross (Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics) are collaborating with partners from PUCP, UNALM, and the International Center for Forestry Research (CIFOR). One line of research involves the assessment of incentive programs in forest conservation in Peru. Based on the work funded by the Strategic Partnership Grant, Cooper and Kalman developed a proposal to the Tinker Foundation that won a $143,000 grant. A second line of work involves capacity building concerning the gender dimensions of forestry programming, for which proposals for external funding are pending.


MSU faculty from many departments have collaborations with colleagues at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Mexico's top-ranked research institution. Their collaborative research covers a range of natural resource issues, including the development and testing of new methods and tools for sustainability research.

In 2019-20, CLACS awarded funding for two faculty teams to develop new research projects in Mexico that expand on collaborations with UNAM on environment/natural resource issues. Abby Bennett and Meredith Gore (Fisheries and Wildlife) are collaborating to develop new research approaches to sea cucumber fisheries management, along with partners from UNAM, government fisheries agencies, and fishing cooperatives. David Mota-Sanchez (Entomology) and David MacFarlane (Forestry) will pilot novel technologies for estimating monarch butterfly populations in their over-wintering grounds in Mexico, in collaboration with UNAM research partners and local communities.

2018-19 CLACS Strategic Partnership Fund Awards

Environmental Issues in Ecuador


Bruno_Ecuador_2019-18.jpgDr. Bruno Takahashi (Journalism) and Dr. Meredith Gore (Fisheries and Wildlife) used Strategic Partnership Funds to advance multiple forms of collaboration with colleagues at the University of San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. Research projects are planned or underway focusing on risk perceptions related to El Niño and the presentation of the Andean discourse of Sumak Kawsay (the good life) in news media in countries in the Andean region. Funding is being sought for the former; USFQ is funding student research assistants to collect data for the latter. 

A proposal was drafted to request US Embassy funding to conduct a series of training workshops for Ecuadorean reporters who report on environmental issues. Dr. Takahashi also participated in planning a journalism conference that took place at USFQ in October 2019, which was open to students and professional journalists in Ecuador.

As USFQ develops a new MA program in environmental communication, faculty exchanges are planned between MSU's School of Journalism, which has a strong focus on environmental journalism, and the USFQ program. Plans were also made to promote student exchanges: USFQ will promote MSU's American Semester programs to bring more USFQ students to MSU for short-term training in environmental fields, while MSU will promote a USFQ course on wildlife documentary production to MSU students. In addition, Takahashi is developing an Education Abroad program for MSU students to Ecuador. 

MSU and Peru: A Strategic Partnership for Forest and Climate Science, Environmental Management, and Gender Studies


Cooper_Oaxaca_en vivero.JPGLauren Cooper and Emily Huff (Forestry) and Lucero Radonic and Rowenn Kalman (Anthropology) were awarded Strategic Partnership Funding to advance opportunities for collaborative research and capacity building in Peru. The team met with potential partners from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment, CIMA (an NGO that works in the Forestry sector with rural communities), and a gender researcher from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. They also met with potential funders from USAID, the US embassy in Lima, the US Forest Service, and the Inter-American Development Bank. Subsequently, the group has applied for funding from the US embassy to support workshops on integrating gender analysis into projects and research in the forestry sector and submitted an LOI to secure funding to scale up these efforts. Development of a proposal for NSF's Coupled Natural and Human Systems competition is planned. 

Improving Indicators for Women's Involvement in Agricultural Decision-making in Colombia


Ma. Claudia's project.JPGMaria Claudia Lopez, Kim Chung, and Maria Alejandra Garcia (Community Sustainability) and Lucero Radonic (Anthropology) were awarded Strategic Partnership Funding for travel to Colombia to meet with research partners at the CGIAR International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. The team worked with CIAT counterparts to develop and pilot indicators to assess the gendered nature of decision making at household levels and explored additional opportunities for collaborative research with researchers from the two institutions.  

Partnership with Puerto Rico: Festival de la Palabra


Yomaira.jpgCLACS also provided a small amount of Strategic Partnership funding to support a visit to MSU by a partner from Puerto Rico, where Strategic Partnership funding in the previous year had enabled Yomaira Figueroa and Tamara Butler (English and African-American and African Studies), Delia Fernandez (History and Chicano/Latin@ Studies), and Estrella Torrez (Residential College in the Arts & Humanities) to launch a study-away program for MSU students.

2017-18 CLACS Strategic Partnership Fund Awards

In 2018, CLACS funded collaborative work with partners in Nicaragua, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Puerto Rico.


Promoting intersectional approaches to research, teaching, and engagement: Partnership with Universidad Centramericana (UCA), Managua, Nicaragua


Nicaragua group visit_edited jpeg.jpgCLACS, GenCen, and CASID jointly awarded Strategic Partnership Funds to Jennifer Goett (JMC) and Fredy Rodriguez (SSC) to bring a team of administrators and faculty from the Interdisciplinary Gender Program (PIEG) at the Universidad Centroamericana to MSU in September 2017.

PIEG faculty and administrators are leading efforts to integrate critical analysis of intersecting power relations (e.g. gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, territoriality, class) into teaching, research, and community outreach. Collaboration between MSU and UCA aims to strengthen feminist and intercultural research capabilities among faculty and students with an emphasis on activist or participatory research.

The long-term objectives of this partnership include obtaining external funding to:

  • Develop intersectional curricula for the UCA's humanities and social science courses;
  • Promote intersectional research among UCA students and faculty;
  • Integrate intersectional approaches into community outreach programs;
  • Build and strengthen UCA's Interdisciplinary Gender Program and the Critical Perspectives on Gender and Development Masters Program;
  • Establish UCA/MSU faculty and/or student exchanges and collaborative research and programming


Transforming from Within: Re-Conociendo Endogenous Resources for Teaching and Learning Mathematics in an International Collaboration with Latin America


Higinio_edited_photo.jpgHiginio Dominguez and Sandra Crespo (College of Education) and Henry Campa (Associate Dean of The Graduate School) won CLACS Strategic Partnership funding for travel to Mexico to meet with collaborators from institutions in Mexico, Chile, and Colombia to prepare a National Science Foundation PIRE grant proposal. The university-based research partners include faculty members from the Universidad Católica Silva-Henríquez in Chile, UT Austin, and the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, in Mexico. The team members also count as collaborators the teachers and administrators with whom they have conducted research in Chile, Colombia, Mexico and the U.S.

Their project focuses on efforts across the four countries to re-conocer—to know again, in a different way—(Dominguez, 2014) resources for teaching that exist within communities. The team seeks to develop, implement, and document innovative approaches to STEM teaching in the four countries that are context-specific and culturally-relevant, with the aim of promoting generative change in mathematics education.

 Sustainability Science Learning Network: Advancing graduate education and research in the US and Mexico  


Gray.jpgSteven Gray, Maria Claudia Lopez, Lissy Goralnik, Laura Schmitt-Olabisi, Jenny Hodbod, (all from CANR) and Lucero Radonic (SSC) were awarded CLACS Strategic Partnership funding for travel to Mexico to meet with partners from the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science at the Universidad Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) in February, 2018. During this trip, the MSU team met with faculty counterparts who represent 11 different departments at UNAM that collaborate in that institution's Graduate Program in Sustainability Science. This goal of this team is to develop a strategic partnership between MSU and the recently established Graduate Program in Sustainability Science (GPSS) at UNAM to advance graduate student and faculty research, education and outreach focused on emerging methods in sustainability science.

In the short term, the partners will plan the first annual Student Conference for Sustainability Science (SCSS) to be held at UNAM in 2018/19, which will include short courses on Methods for Sustainability taught collaboratively by MSU and UNAM faculty and a two-day symposium focused on graduate student research. In the long term, the partners will pursue external funding to support collaborative research and educational exchanges between the two institutions from NSF's Research Coordinated Network (RCN) and NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) grant programs.

MSU Collaboration with Festival de la Palabra in Puerto Rico


Yomaira.jpg 3.jpgCLACS and the Center for Gender in Global Context partnered with English, AAAS, Philosophy, CLS, History, and RCAH to support travel to Puerto Rico by Yomaira Figueroa (English/AAAS, College of Arts & Letters), Xhercis Mendez (Philosophy/AAAS, College of Arts & Letters), Tamara Butler (English/AAAS, College of Arts & Letters), Delia Fernandez (History/CLS, College of Social Sciences), and Estrella Torrez

(Residential College in the Arts & Humanities). This faculty group will collaborate with the non-profit organization Festival de La Palabra (FDLP, Festival of the Word) to develop a study away program for MSU students and to develop joint projects for which they will apply to NEH for support. Both of these efforts will support the radical literacy, community, and health efforts of Festival de la Palabra in the wake of Hurricane Maria and will lead to long-term research and other collaborations between MSU and FDLP. 

2016-17 Strategic Partnership Fund Awards

In 2017, CLACS funded collaborative work with partners in Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Cuba. 

Sustainability Initiatives in Cuba (2016-2017) 



CLACS and CASID jointly awarded Strategic Partnership Funds to a team of 7 to launch research in Cuba. Team members include Michael Kaplowitz, Jenifer Hodbod, Matt Raven, and Michelle Rutty from Community Sustainability; Frank Lupi from Agriculture, Food, & Resource Economics; Dylan Miner from the Residential College in Arts & Humanities and American Indian and Indigenous Studies; and Laurie Thorp from the Residential Initiative for Study of Environment (RISE) and the MSU Student Organic Farm. The team traveled to Cuba to develop projects and proposals for research funding on three topics: 1. sustainable tourism/ecotourism and research capacity building; 2. sustainable community development with urban youth; and 3. increased and improved organic farming and farm-to-table operations. This initiative also received substantial funding from the CANR Dean's Office. 

 Potatoes and Peru (2017)


Patates.jpgStrategic Partnership Funds underwrote an April, 2017, visit to MSU by Dr. Hugo Campos, Research Director of the International Potato Center (CIP), headquartered in Lima, Peru, and Dr. Simon Heck, CIP's Program Manager in Uganda, who leads efforts to scale up CIP's work on bioenriched sweetpotato in Africa. During their visit to MSU, the CIP team met with more than 30 MSU researchers from multiple departments in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In a seminar that kicked off their stay on campus, Dr. Campos, a plant breeder, and Dr. Heck, an anthropologist, emphasized the need to integrate social science approaches with advances in plant breeding in order to maximize the nutritional and health impacts of improved crop varieties. Reflecting this emphasis, they held meetings with both plant scientists and social scientists at MSU. As a Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) center with projects across Africa and Asia as well as the Americas, CIP is an important actor in networks within and across these world regions. This visit will enable researchers from CIP and MSU to leverage our combined networks to expand future collaborations in research, project implementation, and project assessment.

2015-16 Strategic Partnership Fund Awards

In 2015, CLACS funded collaborative work with partners in Peru, Chile and Colombia.

Agriculture in Peru (2015-16)


0 potato-sbs.jpgDr. Larry Olsen, Entomology, CANR; Monica Hufnagel, Entomology, CANR; and Fernando Mendoza, Agricultural Engineering, CANR were awarded funding for travel to Peru to meet with potential collaborators at universities in Lima, Huancayo, and Trujillo focused on agriculture.


Digital Archive Development (2015-16)


1 murphy.jpgDr. Ed Murphy, History, CSS, and Dr. Laura Reese, Global Urban Studies Program, SCC, were awarded funding to launch collaborative work with colleagues at the University of Santiago, Chile and the NGO Educación y Comunicaciones to develop a proposal and budget to fund development of a digital archive Lives, Activism, Archives.






Post-Conflict Studies - Colombia (2015-16)


2 juana_sewing.jpgDr. Elvira Sanchez-Blake, Romance and Classical Studies, CAL, and Dr. Galia Benitez, James Madison College, were awarded funding for travel to Colombia to meet with potential collaborators at universities and NGOs in Bogota, Cali, and Cartegena to pursue research collaboration and study abroad development on the theme of post-conflict studies.

Posture Control Protocols - Peru (2015-16)


3 reeves-lab-sbs.jpgDr. Peter Reeves, Osteopathic SurgicalSpecialties and MSU Center for Osteopathic Research, COM, received funding to support travel for a researcher from the Grupo de Investigación en Robotica Aplicada y Biomecanica (GIRAB), Department of Mechanical Engineering, Pontifica Universidad Catolica del Peru to MSU for one month to learn MSUCOR's testing protocols for assessing postural control, in preparation for a multi-year collaborative research project between the two projects. Other MSU faculty involved in this work include Dr. Jacek Cholewicki and Dr. John Popovich, Osteopathic Surgical Specialties, COM; Dr. Jongeun Choi and Dr. Clark Radcliffe, Mechanical Engineering, EGR; and Dr. Pramod Pathak, Statistics and Probability, Nat Sci.


Plant Breeding (2015-16)


Dr. James Kelly and Dr. Dave Douches of Plant Soil and Microbial Sciences, CANR, were awarded funding for travel to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia for meetings focused on launching research on plant breeding with CIAT counterparts.