As part of its drive to forge lasting global partnerships, Ohio State University has signed two memoranda of understanding (MOU) with the University of Iceland and that European island-nation’s Soil Conservation Service with the goal of enhancing educational experiences and advancing critical research dealing with climate change, environmental sustainability and food security. The MOUs were signed last July 14 during a visit to Iceland by Ohio State officials, including President E. Gordon Gee; Bobby Moser, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; William Brustein, vice provost for global strategies and international affairs; and Bill Ravlin, associate director of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).
The Ohio State delegation met with Iceland President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson — who has been an avid supporter of the trans-Atlantic partnership that started back in 2007, visiting Ohio twice during that period and offering lectures on global warming, land restoration and green energy. Ohio State awarded Grímsson an honorary doctorate for public service in 2009 for his work promoting research and mobilizing policy makers to address issues of soil degradation and glacier retreat.
”The deepening of Ohio State’s partnership with the University of Iceland will reap critical advances not only for our two institutions, but also for so many people around the globe,” Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee said. “Together, we have the complementary intellectual resources and research capacities needed to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.” Similar in scope and objectives, the MOUs (valid for five years with the option for renewal) seek to promote the exchange of faculty, scholars and students for lecturing, advanced studies and research; encourage the appointment of adjunct faculty positions; enlist and engage global environmental champions; develop international communication and cooperation; and amass intellectual, physical and financial resources to respond to the scientific and institutional challenges resulting from climate change.
The Ohio State-Iceland partnership has already yielded important accomplishments, including targeted inter-institutional research projects focused on soils and glacial decline; a postgraduate exchange program that allows students to take courses from both the University of Iceland and Ohio State; a study abroad program in Iceland; and the organization of international conferences addressing the mitigation of environmental and economic impacts caused by climate change.
“From a scientific perspective, establishing Iceland as a strategic partner will result in gaining considerable support to address major societal issues associated with climate change, land restoration and food security,” Ravlin said. “It will also enhance ongoing Ohio State gateway activities in India and Europe, laying the foundation for an OSU-India-Iceland coalition that could garner significant support from the private sector and governmental organizations.”