Illinois Strategic International Partnerships (ISIP)

Illinois Strategic International Partnerships (ISIP) coordinates relationships with a small, select group of true peer institutions around the world that are both broadly and deeply impactful—crossing departments, colleges, centers and institutes to inform and enhance our core missions of research, education, public service, and economic development.

ISIP Vision statement

We will advance the global standing of the University of Illinois as a preeminent public research university, by creating a truly “transnational” institution, where innovative knowledge, research, education, faculty, and students move freely across borders—whether geopolitical, cultural, disciplinary, or academic.

ISIP Strategy

We will leverage existing relationships when possible—and cultivate new relationships when necessary—with a small, highly select group of true peer institutions around the world to form institutional partnerships that are both broadly and deeply impactful—crossing departments, colleges, centers and institutes to inform and enhance all of our core mission activities: research, education, public service, and economic development.

ISIP benefits to primary stakeholders

Strategic International Partnerships can, and should, provide measurable benefits to our students and faculty, and to the citizens of the state of Illinois. Benefits from the partnerships envisioned in the ISIP initiative include:

  • enhanced integration of international education experiences into core curricula at Illinois
  • enhanced participation by students in disciplines traditionally under-represented in study abroad (particularly in STEM disciplines where semester- or year-based study abroad often means additional time to degree)
  • increased co-development of new courses, curricula and, eventually, dual and joint degrees
  • enhanced opportunities for student cohorts from Illinois and ISIP partners to come together for research, learning, national and international competitions, or topical summer institutes
  • increased access to significant external funding sources, both public and private, for collaborative research and education activities (e.g., European Commission Framework and Erasmus Mundus funding)
  • enhanced potential to form truly productive multilateral consortia of university partners, building on strong existing relationships and identified synergies
  • enhanced ability to conduct innovative, cross-, multi-, and interdisciplinary research on “big science” questions and problems, by leveraging complementary faculty expertise and research infrastructures
  • increased opportunities to foster technological, commercial, and political connections for State of Illinois business and governmental interests with key foreign areas (ex. planned public housing authority informational visit to Stockholm; exchange of expertise on freight and passenger rail capacity and technology)
  • increased opportunities for forging beneficial relations with multi-national corporations

ISIP Approach

The central campus administration, through its senior international officer, will work with faculty and a variety of campus constituents to gather information about our existing partnerships, with the goal of identifying those with the greatest potential to be leveraged into broader strategic engagements. Once identified, modest financial support, as well as focused administrative support and oversight, will be provided as seed funding to broaden the scope of collaborative activities undertaken in the partnership. ISIP will rely on pre-defined, clearly articulated criteria and mechanisms for identifying, cultivating, evaluating, and sustaining strategic international partnerships:

The pilot project: INSPIRE

The pilot project of the ISIP initiative is well underway. TheIllinois-Sweden Program for Educational and Research Exchange (INSPIRE), through the leadership of faculty liaisons Anna Stenport (Germanic Languages and Literatures, Scandinavian Studies) and Harry Dankowicz (Mechanical Sciences and Engineering) in cooperation with the Director of ISIP, is an ambitious project to form broad and deep engagements with the three leading institutions of higher education in Stockholm, Sweden: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University, and the Karolinska Institutet. The foundational relationship with KTH is already well-established, with faculty from our Colleges of Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Fine and Applied Arts, and Media all working directly on collaborative research and education projects with counterparts at KTH. For additional details, please explore the INSPIRE website.

The Africa Initiative

ISIP’s Africa Initiative seeks to identify clusters of research and educational activities, and facilitate expansion of these engagements, with the particular goal of developing deep, sustained partnerships with institutions of higher education in Africa. Ideally, such partnerships will provide enhanced and expanded opportunities for our faculty and students to engage in innovative research and educational experiences, as well as continue our tradition of capacity building and public service across the continent. Desired outcomes of the ISIP Africa Initiative include an increased awareness of the breadth and depth of expertise related to Africa across our campus; enhanced efforts to recruit, enroll, and support African students at Illinois; increased engagement Illinois students in experiential learning abroad and service activities in Africa; an enlarged and strengthened ability to deliver courses and curricula focused on African languages, cultures, histories, and current affairs; expanded access to external funding for research and engagement projects in Africa; and an enhanced ability to bring to bear our strong tradition of cross- and interdisciplinary approaches to complex socio-political, economic, and environmental challenges unique to contemporary Africa.

The Illinois Strategic International Partnerships (ISIP) Africa Initiative seeks proposals from faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for partnership building projects in, or with a primary focus on, Africa. This grant competition supports activities that identify, implement, and expand upon academic collaborations that will advance and enhance the goals of the ISIP Africa Initiative. Grants of up to $5000 per project will be awarded to cover allowable expenses, including travel and lodging, expenses associated with hosting visiting faculty, researchers, or students from the partner institutions, joint symposia or workshops, public outreach events, use of distance learning technologies, or other appropriate expenses.

Additional information can be found in the RFP and application.


march 3, 2014