Plans for the future from the Patel Center

The Patel Center for Global Solutions will cap this semester with several important new initiatives. First, the Center is particularly excited about the launch of our new partnership with the Honors College.

This summer, undergraduate students will gain hands-on experience in research projects important to the Center. The students will be doing applied research under the guidance of faculty members. They will be working on research topics in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

In the Costa Rica project, two students will review existing research on water conditions in a key tourist area. The ultimate goal will be to conserve the supply of potable water in the area.

The Dominican Republic student research will be very different. That project builds on faculty research surrounding innovative solar desalination systems to purify drinking water in poor, rural locations.

In both study areas, the students will develop their research with faculty guidance and information from the USF Library and other international resources. After the first phase, they will visit the respective countries to share their information and receive direct feedback.

When the summer undergraduate research students return, they will share their experience and help the Patel Center to develop a comprehensive program for the future.

In another new initiative earlier this spring, the Patel Center developed a partnership with UNESCO-IHE, the Institute for Water, in Delft, Netherlands.

UNESCO-IHE is the most prestigious academic institution in the world, granting advanced degrees in water-related areas. The partnership will be a great asset to the Center and USF as the University continues to build an international reputation.

As a result of the agreement, the Center will host 20 graduate students from several different countries in the developing world. Under the direction of Dr. Thomas Crisman, the Patel professor of environment, the students will participate in several days of visits and discussions concerning water resources on the West Coast of Florida.

They will be traveling to Tampa Bay from Burundi, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Philippines, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania. The Patel Center will utilize the resources of the Tampa Bay area to provide an opportunity for practitioners already engaged in resolving water problems to learn from the Florida experience.

In the months ahead, the Patel Center will be exploring opportunities to forge relationships with those already working in areas of interest to our faculty and staff, namely in the area of potable water and sanitation, urbanization and migration, and trade. In this regard, members of Patel Center and the College of Public Health recently visited the City of Knowledge in Panama, where USF’s College of Public Health and College of Nursing already have established programs.

In addition, the Center will be working to develop a fall conference on Central America and the Caribbean. The Faculty Advisory Board will also be expanded, and the educational plan for the Center will be developed under the able leadership of Dr. Barbara Cruz in the College of Education.

Betty Castor is a former University of South Florida president and is the executive director of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions.