Op-Ed

Here’s another ‘summit’ that can promote discovery, learning, understanding across nations

Participant in an eMerge Americas conference takes a look at new technology.
Participant in an eMerge Americas conference takes a look at new technology. news.miami.edu

This month, the Eighth Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, brought together leaders from across the hemisphere. They discussed trade, foreign policy and democracy. But an undercurrent of social and political uncertainty in each nation, including the United States, permeated the gathering.

Rather than divide us, this ambiguity underscored the need for strategic alliances that arise not just from our geographic proximity but from a vision for the future rooted in our shared values as hemispheric partners.

This week, another strategic gathering will seek to strengthen connections throughout the region. eMerge Americas will bring together business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and government officials to foster collaboration and innovation that transcend political, social, and economic boundaries.

Ten leaders of distinguished universities from Canada to the Caribbean to Chile will gather to discuss the role that their institutions can play as engines for innovation in our region. Convened by the University of Miami and moderated by columnist Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald, these leaders will explore specific strategies to create a stronger, more united hemisphere.

Universities are among the oldest and most resilient institutions in history. In the quest for knowledge, they have united people from all walks of life. In times of uncertainty, universities have an opportunity and a responsibility to work together to transcend social upheaval and divisions. The University of Miami and the broader South Florida community have a key role to play in nurturing partnerships that can champion the common interests of the hemisphere.

The concept of the Hemispheric University — using our geographic advantage at the crossroads of the Americas to forge connections across the globe — is central to the University of Miami’s vision. Our hemispheric strategy has five pillars: 1) the study of the hemisphere; 2) educational exchange; 3) research; 4) technological innovation; and 5) healthcare. We will pursue this work in partnership with other renowned institutions. To that end, we are launching the Hemispheric University Consortium with a select number of partners from North, Central and South America. Together, we will tackle the region’s most pressing challenges, such as climate change, poverty, gender inequality and health threats — issues that do not recognize national borders or walls. Alongside our partner academic institutions, the University of Miami will advance research, generate sound evidence, promote cultural understanding and devise solutions to face these common challenges.

Universities can craft alliances that national leaders can emulate. Partnerships forged in shared strengths and mutual respect can elevate purely transactional exchanges into something far greater — common understanding of a potential future and the realization of a collective strength far more powerful than any single institution alone.

The Hemispheric University Consortium will provide a structure for students, faculty and researchers to collaborate — promoting discovery, learning, understanding and a higher level of integration across nations.

In Miami, we are uniquely positioned in the hemisphere with a bold appreciation for the region’s diversity, emerging needs and vast opportunities. By building bridges based on shared goals, we become stronger than if we faced our future alone. The University of Miami is at the threshold of a new collaborative model that honors its history as part of a city built by people from across the globe and looks toward a future that unites and benefits everyone.

Julio Frenk is president of the University of Miami.

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