University leaders endorse projects

Pacific Rim research institutions agree to collaborate on scientific, educational initiatives

An agreement to co-sponsor a major international conference on microgravity research next March with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was one of the outcomes of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) conference held recently on campus.

The meeting, which focused on science and technology, brought together presidents from leading research institutions in the region, including universities in China, Australia, Japan and the U.S.

"This conference reinforced the value of face-to-face discussion--new ideas for research and teaching collaborations came from both scheduled meetings and more informal talks," says UBC President Martha Piper. "Also, meeting with Canada's advisory council on science and technology during the conference was a significant opportunity that demonstrates the role universities can have in informing policy."

Steven Sample, chair of APRU and president of the University of Southern California, says members endorsed four other APRU projects for the coming year.

Plans include a distance learning conference to be held at Japan's Kyoto University in May and an APRU Fellows program co-hosted by the University of Washington and Thailand's Chulalongkorn University to be held in Bangkok and Seattle in August.

Leading junior faculty members will participate in the two-week program that will look at environment and development challenges for the Pacific Rim region.

In addition, a doctoral students' conference, called "Global Pressures, Local Impacts: Challenges for the Pacific Rim," will be held at New Zealand's University of Auckland in February.

APRU presidents also endorsed the idea of all members participating in the Pacific Rim Digital Library Association to better share research materials.

UBC signed two student exchange agreements at the conference--a reciprocal agreement with the University of Osaka in Japan and a framework agreement, or agreement in principle, with the University of Washington.

Part of UBC's Education Abroad Programs, these agreements provide for reciprocal exchange of undergraduate students in any discipline to spend one academic year abroad as an integral part of their studies.

APRU was created in 1997 to contribute to the development of an integrated Pacific Rim community through more effective co-operation in teaching and research and to influence economic, scientific and cultural policy.

The association's next conference will be held at Fudan University in Shanghai in June 2001.