By From the Lowell Sun
By Robert Mills
LOWELL -- It will be far more than a simple exchange of students who spend a year studying abroad at UMass Lowell and Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Students from both universities will study together and dig in the earth together, excavating homes and fields from the time of the Great Famine in Ireland.
They will study the lives of those who endured the famine, in which about 1 million people died and another 1 million emigrated to places like Lowell.
The program, introduced yesterday by UMass Lowell officials, and Queens Pro-Vice Chancellor Gerry McCormac and Professor Colm Donnelly, is one of the first to spring from UMass Lowell's new partnership with Queens University.
The partnership, signed in March when Chancellor Marty Meehan, Provost Ahmed Abdelal and others visited Queens, is part of the university's push to create six cultural centers to encourage collaboration with schools overseas.
The International Center for Irish Partnerships is one of six being created by the university and the first to be put into action. Others will focus on Asia, Greece, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
"We're trying to partner with countries with important constituencies here in Lowell," UMass Lowell's Abdelal said.
Six UMass Lowell students already attended a summer program at Queens, and the archeological program unveiled yesterday will include five to 10 students from each school, as well as faculty members.
Donnelly, a professor who will help lead the project, said students will excavate in Northern Ireland and study the lives of ordinary residents who lived through the famine, before the same students excavate in Lowell and study the lives of the ordinary residents who emigrated here.
Provost Abdelal said the goal of such programs is to get students and faculty to interact and partner on a level far beyond that of a simple semester abroad.
UMass Lowell and Queens will also collaborate with leaders of industry for an Emerging Technologies Conference at the Inn and Conference Center on Oct. 19 and 20, which will be the first conference hosted in the center since UMass Lowell bought it this summer.
The conference will focus on biopharmaceuticals and bioprocessing, medical-device technologies, nanotechnology and biosensors, and nanomanufacturing technology for biomedical applications.
Abdelal said the partnerships will also help increase international diversity on campus here in Lowell, which can only benefit students preparing to join a global economy.