PROJECT ABSTRACT: A Brazilian and U.S. Partnership for People, Planet and Profits:
Fostering Socially, Environmentally, and Economically Sustainable Entrepreneurship
Introduction. Sustainable development requires that practitioners address economic, social, and environmental challenges simultaneously. While the concept is often applied to large businesses, its application has not been widely explored at the level of entrepreneurs and other small businesses. Given the healthy trade relationship that exists between the United States and Brazil, as well as the many environmental challenges that each of these countries face, Brazilian and U.S. universities have the potential to take a leadership role in fostering entrepreneurship that is socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable.
Consortium and Project Activities. Northern Michigan University (lead U.S. institution), Western Illinois University, Universidade Federal Rural da Amazonia (lead Brazilian institution), and Universidade Federal de Lavras propose to develop a collaborative project that will prepare U.S. and Brazilian students for highly skilled 21st century jobs that require expertise in entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and sustainable economic development. In order to achieve this goal, the partnering universities have identified six objectives relating to the creation of academic programs, collaborative projects, language courses in English and Portuguese, mobility options, faculty participation, and project sustainability.
Student Mobility. Over a four-year period, it is anticipated that approximately 20 students from the United States and 20 from Brazil (10 from each university) will participate in the exchange program. The mobility options include a year-long certificate program and a semester exchange program. The certificate program is broken into three phases. In the first phase, students will take an online course at their home institution focusing on sustainable entrepreneurship. During the second phase, students will study at one of the host institutions from the other country for a semester. The final phase concludes with an eight to ten-week Summer (May-Aug) internship. Regarding the semester exchange program, it is anticipated that on average, two students per institution will participate each academic year. One student from each of the Brazilian universities will likely participate each U.S. semester with an approximate six-week language immersion immediately prior to their exchange semester. This would require one six month exchange period in the U.S. per student.
Additional Components. Language and Cultural Studies: Students from all institutional partners will participate in intensive language and cultural curricula that will develop their professional ability to work in a competitive global environment and help them to develop communications skills that will allow them to communicate effectively. Participating students will receive language and cultural instruction in English and Portuguese. Service Learning and Community Involvement: Each student, while at the host institution, will participate in a service learning project during their semester abroad. These projects will ensure that the students are involved in a hands-on project that enhances their knowledge and interaction with the host nation's environment, culture, and population. Ethics: Students will have the opportunity to observe and participate in discussions and hands-on situations within the foreign country which will expose them to the ethical and social standards of the other nation.
Consortium Meetings. It is planned there will be two bilateral consortium meetings per year. One will be held in conjunction with the Annual Project Directors Meeting. The second will alternate annually in Brazil and the U.S. The U.S. meeting will likely be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brazilian meetings will alternate between Lavras and Belem.