In 1994, Stetson's Latin American Studies Program established a pilot Summer Internship program designed to allow highly-qualified Stetson students to gain greater knowledge of the world through first hand research and work experience in Latin America. This program was founded upon the principle of choosing student participants on the basis of their academic and linguistic excellence and not their financial capabilities. We are proud to note that the program in its early stage is already successfully preparing some of Stetson's best students for the global future.
At the same time, the Summer Internship program was designed to be an exchange program, with a steady flow of reciprocal visits from Latin American students and professionals who, as they gain firsthand experience and knowledge of the United States, enrich the Stetson community through their active participation in university and community programs and activities. That is why we have developed our program in conjunction and consultation with the Unión Iberoamericana de Municipalistas.
La Unión Iberoamericana de Municipalistas (UIM: The Union of Iberoamerican Municipalists) was founded in 1990 by Spanish and Latin American municipal politicians and public servants who had participated in democratic administration training programs set up and administered since 1986 by the Center of Municipal Studies and International Cooperation (CEMCI) in Granada, Spain. While technically a non-government organization, the UIM shares personnel with, and receives much of its funding from the CEMCI (which receives a good portion of its funds from the European Community and the Province of Andalucía in Spain).
The UIM exists, first, to promote the proposition that local government is the cornerstone of a democratic society, and; second, to investigate and disseminate ways in which the autonomy and integrity of local government in Spain and Latin America can be strengthened. To this end, the UIM annually sponsors some twenty UIM "fellows", chosen from hundreds of applicants from local governments in Spain and Latin America, to come to Granada for three weeks of training and interactive learning seminars. The UIM also holds semi-annual international congresses focusing on specific themes of importance to local government, and it publishes a series of books and articles, in Spanish, on municipal governance and associated problems and solutions. Since its founding date, the UIM has held three congresses (Granada, Spain in 1991, Cartagena, Colombia in 1994, and Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1996). Its publications list is both extensive and impressive in its quality. The UIM's current membership consists of some 300 - 400 "municipalistas" (mayors, city council members, mid-to-high level municipal public servants, and academics) from Spain and all of Latin America. Its current president is the mayor of Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Unfortunately, in spite of our willingness to reciprocate, Stetson has received only one visit from participating Latin American hosts in three years (a highly successful one-week visit by a delegation of public officials from Cuernavaca, Mexico). The problem, very simply, is the lack of funds to make the trip. Understanding that this is a natural consequence of dealing with countries undergoing economic hard times, we are nonetheless concerned that without reciprocity, the entire Program could be at risk. Therefore, we are seeking funds to allow reciprocity to, in fact, take place.
A second component of the proposal consists of allowing for an extension of the Stetson-UIM relationship in the following manner: Each year, the UIM hosts twenty Latin American Fellows in Granada, Spain for a period of three weeks of training in various dimensions of local government and administration. This would be followed by a three-to-five day visit to Stetson and Volusia County as a valuable North American addition to the Fellows' learning experiences. With the UIM paying international transportation expenses, Stetson would pay for welcoming and concluding receptions, provide ground transportation, housing and meals, and arrange and oversee Fellows' visits to the offices and worksites of county and city administration or any other specific area of interest specified in advance by the visitors. Fellows would agree to participate in a public seminar discussing current events, politics, economics, etc. in their countries of origin. These seminars could be augmented by presentations of Stetson faculty and/or visiting scholars. Fellows would also speak to interested classes on the Stetson campus.
The presence of so many practitioners of public administration and policy making would provide Stetson University with a unique opportunity to bring international issues and concerns to the direct attention of its students, faculty and surrounding community. It's also an excellent opportunity for the University to introduce itself to a population of potential students (parents, relatives, etc.) and benefactors in a personal and professional way. In Latin America and Spain, the personal connection is indispensable for establishing meaningful contacts.
UIM Visiting Delegations: Cemci/UIM Fellows travel to Granada during the first three weeks of May. They would spend the last week of May at Stetson. We would like to be able to offer this year's Fellows (1997) the opportunity to visit Stetson and Volusia County. Chances are, however, that we are looking for an initial startup date in 1998.
CEMCI-UIM Web Site
Stetson Latin American Studies Home Page
Last Update:June 16, 1998