FIU to break ground on forum for global exchange: New building to house School of International and Public Affairs

Rendering of FIU's SIPA building

Rendering of FIU's SIPA building

MIAMI  – The new School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) will have a home fitting of its aspirations to be at the crossroads of global studies and transnational relations. The five-story building, designed by world-renowned, award-winning Miami-based firm Arquitectonica, will break ground this week in the heart of University Park.

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Thurs. Dec. 18, 2008. The building will go up near the air traffic control tower, the campus’ first structure.

Rendering of SIPA building lobby

“This is the place on our campus where social scientists will come together to work on some of the greatest challenges of our time and honor the middle name of our institution,” said Florida International University President Modesto A. Maidique. “How well we understand our new globalized society and the actions that follow will determine the future of humanity and the role our country will play in that future.”

The building’s first of two phases is scheduled to be completed in mid 2010. Phase one will house the largest auditorium on campus, with a seating capacity of 480, the latest technology and cantilevered design. The 58,400-square-foot phase one, will be built to comply with the Silver Category of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).  A Japanese garden adjacent to the building is planned to serve as an educational and healing tool as well as aesthetic attraction and event venue.

With an eye toward the future, FIU Executive Vice President and Provost Ronald Berkman recently announced the establishment of the School of International and Public Affairs, which will bring together international, governmental, and social sciences with the goal of deepening understanding of an increasingly global society.

Scheduled to officially open in January 2009, SIPA will be part of the College of Arts and Sciences and will include undergraduate and graduate programs in political science, international relations, public administration, geography, sociology, anthropology and criminal justice.

 “The creation of the School of International and Public Affairs marks a new phase in FIU’s history,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Ronald M. Berkman. “It reaffirms FIU’s commitment to participating in public affairs at the local, national and international level and helps us fulfill our role as an institution of research, teaching and public service.”

Centers, institutes and other programs that also form part of SIPA include the Latin American and Caribbean Center, Asian Studies, European Studies, Middle East Studies, African and African Diaspora Studies,  the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship Studies, the Center for Administration of Justice, the Institute for Public Management and Community Service, the Labor Center, the English Language Institute.

“The establishment of SIPA underscores our commitment to FIU’s international mission and to our faculty’s research and teaching interests in these areas,” said Kenneth G. Furton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The creation of SIPA was my number one goal when I was named Dean of Arts and Sciences last year and it is extremely satisfying to now see this signature School become a reality.”

John F. Stack, a political science, international relations and law professor who has been with FIU for 32 years, is the interim director of SIPA. Stack said bringing international and public affairs and related disciplines together is in line with FIU’s international mission and its distinction as South Florida’s only public research university.

Stack underscored that Miami area is home to more than 500 multinational corporations, more than 60 foreign consulates, 25 foreign trade offices and 40 bi-national chambers of commerce. In addition, according to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, 60 percent of U.S. trade with Central America, 46 percent of U.S. trade with the Caribbean and 27 percent of U.S. trade with South America goes through Miami. 

“The School of International and Public Affairs recognizes the level of interdependence in the world and the importance of intercultural communication,” Stack said. “We need to prepare students at the graduate and undergraduate level to compete in our increasingly globalized world.”

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