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FACE Foundation funds international optics education collaboration between Rochester and École Centrale Marseille

December 10, 2020
overhead image of the skyline of Marseille.Marseille, France. (Getty image)

The FACE Foundation (Supporting French-American Cultural Exchange in Education and the Arts) has awarded the University of Rochester a grant to support its project to virtually collaborate with École Centrale de Marseille (ECM) in France. The grant is part of FACE’s Transitioning to Virtual Exchange COVID-19 Relief Fund and the awarded project is led by Andrew Berger and Miguel Alonso, both professors of optics at Rochester’s Institute of Optics. ECM is a leading graduate school of engineering located in Marseille, the second largest city in France.

International education and study abroad have been severely impacted by the current pandemic. In response, the French Embassy in the United States, the US.Embassy in France, and the FACE Foundation are supporting institutions that are creatively maintaining French-American collaboration by integrating virtual exchange or other types of global learning in their curricula. The project proposals needed to include collaboration among at least one US and one French institution of higher learning or international education provider and demonstrate why they have the potential to boost study abroad after the pandemic.

The University project that received the FACE grant aims to implement mechanisms for educational exchange between Rochester and ECM, both institutions which have strong programs in optics and photonics and both of which prioritize international experiences for students. This project broadly involves the exchange of online specialized courses that are greatly beneficial to both institutions’ students. The project has two goals: to promote the collaboration between Rochester and ECM students by incorporating into specific undergraduate core courses projects carried out by mixed teams; and second, to share specialized elective courses by capitalizing on the experience that the faculty at both institutions have acquired on remote teaching and learning.

“Thanks to the FACE Foundation’s support for this project, students will learn to engage in teamwork across boundaries by collaborating virtually with fellow students studying optics and photonics,” said Jane Gatewood, University vice provost for global engagement. “Given the current state of restricted international exchange opportunities, the University of Rochester and our Institute of Optics are very excited about the opportunity for this new collaboration with Ecole Centrale Marseille, as well as the bridge it creates for us to engage in future academic partnerships with ECM.”

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