Leaders from two Central American Jesuit universities visited LMU on July 2 and met with a small group of faculty to continue conversations about possible areas of collaboration that began during last January’s faculty-staff immersion trip to El Salvador.
The visitors included Andreu Oliva, S.J., president of the University of Central America in San Salvador, and José Alberto Idiazquez, S.J., president of the University of Central America in Managua. They were accompanied by their respective academic vice presidents, Lidia Salamanca and Renata Rodriguez. Bob Caro, S.J., welcomed the visitors. Faculty participants in the meeting were Victor Camona, Ph.D. (Biology), Fernando Guerra, Ph.D. (Center for the Study of Los Angeles), and Eric Strauss, Ph.D. (Center for Urban Resilience). Patrick Furlong (Global Ignatian Academic Programs and Initiatives) and student Joaquin Loustau assisted with translation.
Carmona, who has arranged for the donation of recycled laptops to UCA, San Salvador, is on the lookout for ways to facilitate exchange opportunities for students from both campuses. He will keynote a climate-change conference on the UCA campus in October and hopes to be joined by several LMU students. Also, he and a faculty member at UCA await funding approval from the Salvadoran government for a river corridor greening project. If funding is approved, Carmona will make use of a technology-enhanced classroom in the new Life Sciences Building to coordinate information exchange between LMU and UCA.
Guerra reported that his center is working on the design and an implementation plan for a demographic profile of the extensive Salvadoran community in Los Angeles. The project might also include a focus group with local Salvadoran leaders. Results of the project will be shared with UCA.
Strauss, like Carmona, and in the spirit of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si, hopes to obtain grant funding for mutually undertaken environmental projects. Meanwhile, the Center for Urban Resilience looks to the possibility of sending team members to UCA to host a professional development seminar. The center is also seeking modest funding to invite an UCA faculty member to participate in a summer institute on urban ecology at LMU.
All of the projects, whether proposed or already underway, are in the spirit of enhanced collaboration within the international network of Jesuit universities.