Southern University Baton Rouge has collaborated with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), select land-grant HBCUs, and state agencies to develop the “1890’s Institutions Initiative” to forge global partnership to create the production of human capital in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics (STEAM).

On March 3, 2017 a delegation traveled to China to visit Beijing Union University, Tsinghua University, Beijing University, Nankai University, and Shandong University to begin phase one of the proposed initiative to explore mutually beneficial opportunities and bring new insights to bear on the role of science and technology in producing a competitive advantage in the scientific enterprise.

“The trip provided an opportunity for a select group of 1890 institutions, along with TMCF and state agencies, to learn how other universities have successfully linked academics and research to entrepreneurial, community, and economic growth,” said Michael Stubblefield, vice chancellor for Office of Research and Strategic Initiatives.

“It also provided a platform for our potential international partners to engage a network of universities in six states, as well as the entire 22-state network of TMCF schools. We wanted to connect partners across scientific disciplines, geographic boundaries, and knowledge institutions (universities, governments, businesses, non-profits, etc.) in educating a new generation of dynamic, globally competent workforce (scholars, practitioners, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders) who will add value to the U.S. scientific enterprise,” added Stubblefield.

The partnership is designed around bilateral faculty exchanges, bilateral student exchanges, jointly sponsored research, economic development initiatives, and building capacity through jointly sponsored centers of excellence in STEAM.

Southern University and TMCF are joined in the delegation with Alcorn State University, Fort Valley State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Louisiana Board of Regents, Louisiana Economic Development, and the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

“Building scientifically competitive universities require an alignment of human and physical resources in an intellectually coherent and rigorous academic environment. This 1890s mission provided an important opportunity to advance STEAM through partnerships with world-class universities in China and West Africa. Drawing on the rich resources of all universities involved, we intend to create bilateral student and faculty exchanges, jointly sponsored research and innovations in science and technology and building a global community of learning is paramount to TMCF’s mission,” said N. Joyce Payne, founder/ senior international affairs and STEM Advisor to the president, Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Within the 1890’s Institutions Initiative, Southern looks to broaden strategic partnership between the nation’s black land-grant universities and international institutions of higher learning. The idea behind the 1890’s Institutions Initiative to forge global partnerships is to bring schools, colleges and universities, government, and industry to the table to reform and restructure, to produce master teachers in the sciences, to support global partnerships, and to invest wisely and heavily in creating a comparative advantage in the global marketplace of science and technology.

“This effort supports the SU 2016-2021 Strategic Plan in promoting a conscious culture of internationalization evidenced throughout in policy, advocacy, activities, and assessment.  Also, the Louisiana Interagency Alliance on Global Workforce Development, was created to position SU as a World Class Institution of Learning dedicated to producing students who have demonstrated the ability to contribute to the emerging STEM enterprise in Louisiana. Louisiana state agencies that are signatories to this Alliance are Southern University, Louisiana Economic Development, and the Louisiana Workforce Commission,” said Stubblefield.

The Louisiana Interagency Alliance on Global Workforce Development MOU was introduced in February of 2017.

The initiative vision is to create world-class universities in STEAM that have the capacity to contribute to the economic promise and prosperity of the U.S. and China.  Creating strategic partnership with peer universities in China and Africa designed around the production of human capital in STEAM.

“This vision builds upon past and current Southern STEM initiatives, including HBCU-UP Broadening Participation (HRD 1506269); LSAMP; CREST, IRES (OISE-1131281), and S-STEM among some other things,” said Stubblefield.

The main emphasizes of the partnership with universities in China is the global workforce development Stubblefield explained. “International engagement provides exposure to other cultures and ideas and provide unique perspectives in addressing common problems. Even more so, many U.S. firms are multinational and are looking for future workers that can speak other languages, willing to engage other cultures, and can translate business opportunities in global terms. Greater opportunities exist for bilateral student and faculty exchanges, joint research, and linked global entrepreneurial partnerships between our universities,” he said.

Southern hopes to connect with flagship universities like, the ones visited on the trip that demonstrate the ability to contribute significantly to the advancement of science and technology to strengthen the capacity of Black land-grant universities in STEAM.

What is next in the initiative? Stubblefield shared that there is a preproposal pending with the National Science Foundation entitled, “the 1890s Global Academy of Sciences and Entrepreneurship in STEM.”