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Institutional Internationalization Project

Institutional Context. The Internationalization Agenda (PIN) of the Federal University of Ceará (UFC), approved by the University Council (Resolution 45/CONSUNI, published on 11/2-17 – attached to PIN) is the current institutional mark of UFC’s internationalization policy. The goals, strategies and actions of the Internationalization Agenda have been incorporated to the Institutional Development Plan for the 2018-2022 period as a result of contributions from the researcher community at UFC and approved by the Superior Councils in 2017. Both documents reinforce several initiatives and programs which have already been successfully implemented in recent years and propose innovations in management, in teaching and in research with the purpose of definitively establishing an international environment within the institution. The university’s international openness is essentially oriented by the activities of research and graduate studies, especially with the impulse brought by the creation of the first doctoral programs at the University, in the mid 1990s. Despite its relatively recent activity, the establishment of excellence groups in these pioneer programs has disseminated rapidly and sustainably in a set of 58 academic graduate programs, 42% of which were awarded scores of 5, 6 and 7. According to the 2013-2016 quadrennial assessment, UFC counts with 10 programs of international excellence, three of them with grade 7, in the areas of Civil Engineering/Water Resources, Physics, Mathematics; and seven of them with grade 6, in Chemistry, Nursing, Chemical Engineering, Teleinformatics Engineering, Pharmacology, Geography and Medical Sciences. The institutional project for PrInt is structured involving these groups of excellence with strong international relevance, which opportunely approach the following themes of world relevance, strategic for the development of the country and the state of Ceará: i) materials and phenomena in nanoscale; ii) geometry and non-linear methods; iii) data science and complex systems; iv) social technologies; v) new chemical and biological products and their applications; vi) infectious, immunoinflammatory and chronic degenerative diseases; vii) water management and safety in a context of climate change. Although the central themes of the project gravitate around the programs of excellence, the teams involved are, necessarily, interdisciplinary and represent, as a whole, approximately 60% of the programs with grades 5, 6 and 7. This arrangement, far from being an artificial juxtaposition, evidences the pattern of collaborations existent at UFC, some consolidated, others incipient, but also very promising. Usually, the collaborations based on the choice of themes and on the teams’ formation involve common international partnerships and also articulated among themselves. In the proposal, the groups involved are leading projects which denote scientific excellence, for instance, 6 INCTs, 11 PRONEXs, 2 SisNANO Laboratories, 2 National Multiusers Centers from FINEP, among others. All teams have international cooperations formalized by research projects financed by programs such as CAPES-COFECUB (France), -DAAD (Germany), -AmSud (France), -CAFP-BA (Argentina), -FCT (Portugal), -MINCYT (Argentina), -DFATD (Canada), -PGCI, among others, by other foreign resources (Newton Fund, Melinda-Gates, European Union) or high-technology multinational companies (Ericsson, LG, Petrogal, SinoChem, Bayer and others). In aggregated numbers the research activities around the themes chosen to compose the proposal correspond to a great proportion of scientific production at UFC, mainly related to the most relevant publications. The great areas of knowledge represented in the collaboration projects of PrInt’s proposal have high-impact indicators of our production above the world average (analysis accomplished for UFC at SciVal). It is the case, for example, of Chemical Engineering (30% above); Materials Science (25% above) and Odontology (22% above). Starting from this scenario, the Internationalization Agenda establishes the actions which enable us: i) to consolidate the excellence acquired at the international level; ii) to spread it to programs and research centers with a clear perspective of consolidating its international experience; iii) to innovate the undergraduate and graduate teaching practice in order to promote the programs’ international openness; iv) to optimize the management of the processes related to mobility and international partnerships.

Choice of Strategic Themes and Collaboration Projects. The choice of priority themes (see list above) for the selection of collaboration projects integrating PrInt has considered the following guiding principles: i) direct involvement of the graduate programs with grades 6 and 7 on the CAPEs 2013-2016 quadrennial assessment, due to the international excellence of the referred courses; ii) multi and transdisciplinary approach, translated by the graduate programs’ articulation (including those with grades 5 and, eventually, 4, and research groups, with impacts expected on the University’s internationalization level, including in graduate and undergraduate teaching, and in accordance with UFC’s Internationalization Institutional Agenda; iii) possibility of developing themes of international relevance which promote institutional visibility in high-impact scientific journals and events; iv) participation of the main researchers involved in the arrangements of Excellence Centers Projects (PRONEX), International Networks of Research and National Institutes of Research (INCT); v) history of international collaborations with defined and relevant impacts, and fundraising, including those from foreign development agencies and companies; vi) overcoming of the socioeconomic challenges and of the strategic areas concerning public policies in science, technology and innovation in the state of Ceará; vii) involvement with the local productive arrangements and, in particular, with the Technology Park at the Federal University of Ceará. The selection of collaboration projects, among the seven priority themes, was accomplished by means of an internal call notice and proposals involving the articulation of the excellence research groups in programs with grade 5 and some centers of programs with grade 4.

The proposal has the participation of 25 graduate programs with predominance of grades 7, 6 and 5, arranged in 16 collaboration projects. These collaboration projects are majorly leaded by the programs of international excellence and have, as members, researchers from programs 5 and 4, which reveals a balanced arrangement among programs with international insertion and those with great potential of evolving in a near future. This configuration equally reflects the degree of the programs’ maturity and excellence of the scientific production and is compatible with the survey performed  by UFC at SCIVAL using the Scopus database and taking into account the indicator “Field-Weighted Citation Impact”. Considering the result of this report, the coordination of the collaboration projects is in the areas of knowledge whose international impact of UFC’s production is higher than the world average, and the collaborating programs are slightly below the world average. The collaboration projects’ coordinations are, predominantly, in charge of researchers with wide international experience, majorly at level 1, and with a balance between seniors and young researchers.

The collaborations involve 20 countries, but only two of them are not listed as priorities for CAPES. Among the foreign institutions participating the projects, we emphasize: Univ. of Virginia, Pennsylvania State Univ., Purdue Univ., Univ. of British Columbia, Boston Univ., Univ. of Paris-Sud, Texas A&M Univ., Univ. of Melbourne, Univ. of Queensland, among others.

Goals of the Proposal. In short, the present proposal is founded at UFC’s Internationalization Agenda and, by means of the accomplishment of a cutting edge research in several areas of knowledge, has the following goals: i) establishing at UFC’s academic community a promotion policy for the increase of international mobility by means of visits, internships and undergraduate and graduate programs in foreign institutions, particularly in strategic areas that promote the creation of new research groups or graduate programs, as well as the international consolidation of the existent graduate programs and the national scientific and technological development; ii) to promote the updating and qualification of the graduate programs, jointly establishing parameters and strategies for the grade’s increase, not only in the CAPES assessment for internationalization, but also pursuing international excellence criteria, following internal assessment models of the graduate programs, based on international comparatives; iii) to consolidate continued policies of curricular updating and flexibilization, guaranteeing rapid responses to the internationalization demands in terms of competences, practices and professional profiles which are appropriate to the international job market; iv) to intensify the curricular flexibilization of the undergraduate and graduate programs in order to accommodate several curriculums, enabling not only student mobility but also the credits transfer from studies accomplished abroad; v) enabling the offer of curricular components lectured in foreign languages, whether in the classroom-based modality, whether in virtual environments, such as the massive platform of courses, with its inclusion in the pedagogical projects of the undergraduate and graduate programs.