Back in 2011, the University of Kentucky and San Francisco de Quito University (USFQ) established an institution-to-institution partnership. Since then, a campus-wide reciprocal student exchanges have been initiated as well as a clinical placement exchange, where up to two members from each university travel to the partnering school per academic year to conduct research, teach, or study. UK is currently hosting this fall its first exchange professor from USFQ, Maria Amelia Viteri, who is teaching two courses that are cross listed in Linguistics and Anthropology in the College of Arts & Sciences.
Exchange programs allow UK to continue to expand its research, skills and ideas. Exchanging faculty globally exposes both universities to different perspectives, problems, data sets, analytical approaches and conceptual frameworks, enriching both institutions’ research and teaching.
“Such exposure will lead to new approaches in their own, existing research activities, or open up entirely new research areas for both parties,” said Tim Barnes, UKIC’s executive director of international partnerships.
While being at UK, Viteri is teaching an undergraduate course on Migration and Identities, and a graduate course on Languages and Diasporas. Viteri’s background allows her to bring a different perspective to both of her courses on campus.
“Coming from Ecuador and having conducted research work in Central America and the Caribbean, I bring a different perspective that will expand students’ understandings of issues around migration, in its intersectionality with ethnicity, language, gender and sexuality,” Viteri said.
Most of Viteri’s teaching and research experience in the U.S. have been in the East coast area. This faculty exchange opportunity at UK will allow Viteri to come to understand a different region of the U.S..
“UK benefits from learning further about the Andean Region and Latin America, hand in hand with research that USFQ faculty is conducting, that in turn informs and enriches the students, broadening UK’s community spectrum,” Viteri added.
There have been multiple factors impacting Viteri’s work and research while at UK. First, the extensive resources as available through the William T. Young Library has allowed her to access academic sources that are not available outside the U.S. Viteri has also been able to attend various academic events with keynote speakers which have addressed her research interests. There have also been great opportunities for networking on campus that have contributed to Viteri’s knowledge. “Spaces such as A&S Lunchtime Series and Passport to the World: Year of Equity, have all provided rich conversations around crucial topics such as linguistic diversity and migration,” Viteri said.
According to Barnes, this exchange program creates a mutual relationship between both UK and USFQ and their participating faculty.
“USFQ faculty will have an opportunity to experience U.S. academic and research cultures, develop ‘soft skills’ to support their ongoing professional development, such as presentation, grantsmanship, proposal writing, academic publishing, etc.,” Barnes said.
Faculty exchange programs are essential for conducting cutting edge research and for providing students with the ability to study and work in an international capacity, he added.
“In this era of increasingly interconnected, globalized social and work environments- it is more important than ever that our students are prepared to be effective, responsible and ethical actors in a global economy, even if they never leave the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Barnes said. “Our faculty and our students need to feel that UK, as an institution, is a dynamic, globally engaged, world-class research university.”