By Joseph Mathieu
Photos by James Park
Carleton University signed a co-operation agreement with the Belgian Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) on Nov. 17 that will open up exciting new study and research opportunities
With The Pilgrimage of Man mural as backdrop in the Tory Building lobby, a small delegation of Canadians and Belgians gathered to celebrate the culmination of a process that has been developing over several months.
“At Carleton, we understand the critical role that internationalization plays in advancing global knowledge and preparing our students for the demands and complexities of being a global citizen,” said Rafik Goubran, acting vice-president (Research and International).
“It is indeed an honour to formalize our relationship with such a distinguished global university.”
Carleton already engages with more than 220 academic exchange and research partners in more than 40 countries, and this year alone has welcomed 150 visiting scholars.
Matthias Neufang, Carleton’s dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, emphasized how much the co-operation means to international diversity at the university. He also reiterated how exciting the cotutelle programs had become for graduate students.
“At the PhD level, Carleton already has over 20 cotutelle agreements in place that allow doctoral students to complete their studies both at Carleton and a partnering institution abroad, leading to PhD degrees from each university,” said Neufang.
“A particularly exciting initiative in the agreement is the intent to introduce double degrees at the master’s level between the two institutions. Students would study at each university and obtain a master’s degree from both.”
The rector of UCL, Vincent Blondel, noted that Canada is often the first destination choice for his exchange students. He described UCL as a 591-year-old university with 30,000 students near Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the European Union.
“Carleton is a little bit younger, although next year is a very important year for us,” said Neufang, referring to Carleton’s 75th anniversary in 2017.
UCL is the fourth ranked French-speaking comprehensive school in the world and almost a quarter of its students take the opportunity of studying abroad for six months to a year.
The five-year agreement will support efforts to intensify academic co-operation between the universities, in particular in their mutually strong fields of economics, social science, political science, and communication. The agreement will also develop joint research projects and exchange programs, both at the faculty and student level.
All speakers from both Louvain-la-Neuve and Ottawa migrated naturally from English to French in excitement. As the document was signed, there was a remark: “Voilà, c’est fait,” and the lobby burst into applause.
Belgian Ambassador to Canada Raoul Delcorde also said a few words and was particularly proud to call UCL his alma mater. He briefly commended the brokers on each side of the agreement, particularly Neufang at Carleton and Sébastien Van Bellegem, dean of UCL’s Faculty of Economics, Social and Political Sciences, and Communication, who will co-ordinate implementing the agreement.