Norwegian delegate visits U

The University has at least one international visitor every week, but last weekâÄôs visit by NorwayâÄôs Minister of Research and Higher Education was a big deal, Meredith McQuaid , dean of the Office of International Programs , said. Norway has higher education relationships all over the world and all over the U.S., so minister Tora AaslandâÄôs visit signals the value of NorwayâÄôs relationship with the University, she said. Astri Olson , consular officer for MinneapolisâÄô Norwegian Consulate General , said Aasland likely chose to visit the University because of its good connections with Norway, such as the collaboration between the University and NorwayâÄôs University of Life Sciences. Olson said Norway is concerned with climate change, global warming and finding alternative energy sources âÄî things the UniversityâÄôs Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment is also working on. Norwegian officials are looking at how they can use the relationship between the University and UMB as a model for cooperation with other institutions, she added. IREE has been doing joint research on biofuels and renewable energy with UMB, Todd Reubold , spokesman for the UniversityâÄôs Institute on the Environment , said. During this visit, Norwegian delegates met with IREE to discuss collaborating in research areas like climate change and carbon emission reduction, he said. IREE has established six research partnerships with Norway so far. Students, mostly graduate researchers who spend time with both countriesâÄô institutions, are the glue that holds the partnerships together, Reubold said. During face-to-face visits groups can brainstorm, exchanging ideas more efficiently than they could with other types of correspondence, Olson said. For example, McQuaid said the University discussed ways they could collaborate with Norway to create better relationships with African institutions. The University has research projects going on in African countries, but theyâÄôre typically driven by just a few faculty members and the relationships disappear when the project ends or funds dry up. Instead, she said, University President Bob Bruininks would like to see the University establish long term relationships with African institutions; because Norway has ties to Tanzania and Uganda , it makes sense to work with officials to achieve this goal. The visit also allowed Aasland to meet with Norwegian students at the University to learn about their experiences and get ideas on increasing the number of Norwegian students who study abroad âÄî something NorwayâÄôs been working on for a while, Olson said. In-person visits also help people understand the UniversityâÄôs research. For example, Reubold said, on another recent visit to the University , Norwegian officials toured the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve and realized they could replicate that research in Norway. âÄúThey didnâÄôt have a good sense of what we were doing until they actually saw it,âÄù Reubold said. IREEâÄôs longest-standing international relationship is with Norway, Reubold said, something that probably stems from the broadly Scandinavian heritage here in Minnesota.