Major international partnership takes another step forward

July 12 / 90

The University’s partnership with Vanderbilt University (U.S.) is being furthered by a Vanderbilt graduate student and a staff member who have visited the University to talk to Melbourne experts about interdisciplinarity.

Dr Mona Frederick, Executive Director of Vanderbilt’s Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, visited the University to explore opportunities for collaboration.

Vanderbilt Masters student Ben Shapiro spent two months working with experts at the Melbourne School of Design and the Melbourne Graduate School of Education on the architectural design of learning spaces. His work centres on international education policies.

“I believe really strongly in this collaboration, there’s a lot to be gained from this,” he said.

“My background is architecture, so I started seeing a lot of connections between design and space. I started looking into international collaboration, particularly around how spaces relate to international culture.

“One of the things we’re looking at doing is replicating Melbourne’s innovative spaces and pedagogy course at Vanderbilt, which would be really neat.”

Mr Shapiro said the University’s past success with interdisciplinary projects in education and architecture meant the team here was incredibly cohesive.

“You have the architectural languages and the educational languages, and they don’t really overlap, but here there are professors in education and architecture who are working together and talking about how space relates to pedagogy.”

Douglas Proctor, Associate Director, International Relations, said he was pleased to see the benefits of the Melbourne-Vanderbilt partnership flow in both directions.

“In the last six months, the two institutions have seed-funded a range of collaborative research projects and Melbourne staff continue to visit Vanderbilt to develop connections with its researchers and to learn from its professional staff,” he said.

“There is a steady flow of Vanderbilt staff and students who are tapping into Melbourne’s own expertise and experience. There are ongoing discussions with Vanderbilt about Melbourne’s programs for graduate research students.”

The partnership, first formalised in September 2007, was founded on synchronicity in research strengths between the two universities and the aspirations of both institutions.

Further information on the Melbourne-Vanderbilt partnership is available from Douglas Proctor in the International Relations Office (

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