Prof. Fuad Hashwa and the MEDASTAR Program
Can you tell us what the MEDASTAR program is?
MEDASTAR (Mediterranean Area for Science Technology and Research) is a project that aims for broader co-operation between Europe, Egypt and Lebanon by putting emphasis on science, technology and research. MEDASTAR is a cooperation between 9 European, 6 Egyptian and 3 Lebanese universities offering exchange scholarships for different academic and professional programs: undergraduate, graduate, doctorates, post-doctorates, and staff. The particular goal of the program is to promote Science and Technology initiatives in Egypt and Lebanon. MEDASTAR is devoted to creating a mutual forum for scientific cooperation, acknowledgement and exchange. It takes into account the objectives of the Erasmus Mundus Action 2 Strand 1 (EMA2-1) call.
The project will actively respond to the needs of Egypt and Lebanon for higher education, in accordance with their level of development. Attention will be given to the promotion of equal opportunities and the values of democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
As a partner in a second Erasmus Mundus Action 2 Strand1 (EMA 2-1) grant program coordinated by the University of Oviedo in Spain, LAU is announcing the opening of applications for the MEDASTAR program during the period January 31 until March 24, 2012.
In total, 190 mobility flows are planned, 71 of them are for Lebanon distributed as follows: 18 BA/BS, 22 MA/MS, 17 PhD, 9 Post-docs (Assistant Professors in their first three years of appointment) and 5 faculty/staff mobilities involved in institutional building. The participating Universities in Lebanon are: LAU, AUB & USJ.
How long has LAU been involved with this program and how did the university become involved?
We have been involved in the preparation and development of this project since March 2011, the grant was received in October 2011, and the actual launching of the project (see attached poster) was Jan 31, 2012.
In what ways do you think this, and other, exchange programs can help LAU and its students both academically and professionally down the road?
It will promote and foster mutual enrichment between the partners through the exchange of people, knowledge and culture and to enhance the personal skills and employability of participating individuals. This program will develop higher education teaching and learning capacities of developing countries and regions especially regarding the countries’ development priorities. It will also provide good students from vulnerable groups with further education and professional development and empowerment for leadership. And it will promote cooperation between sending and hosting institutions, thus mutually enriching the educational environment of both to share responsibility and accountability for their joint efforts in partnership by facilitating transfer of know-how and good practices. It will also develop sustainable relationships beyond the end of the project.
Are there plans for new programs like this in the near future?
As a matter of fact this is the second EU-Erasmus Mundus grant that LAU has received recently. The first exchange/mobility grant (it is called WELCOME) was launched on Jan 23 and it is coordinated by Poltechnico de Torino in Italy with LAU as a partner in the 19-member university consortium.
Who is financing this project and what countries are backing it up?
Both MEDASTAR and WELCOME are financed by the European Community through the Erasmus Mundus program in Brussels, Belgium.