An Irish academic delegation from the University College Cork is in Missoula this week to strengthen its fledgling ties with the University of Montana.
Although formal agreements between the two schools were sealed last fall after UM officials visited the campus in Cork, Ireland, this visit allows all the campus officials to fill in details regarding student exchanges and visiting faculty programs.
Much of the discussion will take place in a two-day public conference, which also will focus on developing additional relationships between Ireland and Montana.
Many Montanans of Irish heritage trace their family roots back to Cork, and because of the linkage, and the history that comes with it, a formal educational tie between the two universities is more than appropriate, said Louise Tobin, UCC international education officer.
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It's an overdue reunion of sorts.
Tens of thousands of Irish immigrants came to Montana in the 1880s to work the mines in Butte, and of those who stayed, most were from County Cork.
Today, the Irish and Montanans have much in common, and much to learn from one another, said Gerard Wrixon, UCC president. There is, he believes, a shared perspective.
Both live on the periphery - Ireland on the outer circles of Europe, and Montana on the outer edge of the United States.
Both entities are rich with history, tradition and culture, yet each entity has a vastly different economy. From this new educational partnership, Montanans are poised to learn lessons from the Irish economy, which has thrived because of an appealing, retooled tax structure for multinational business, and the Irish are poised to learn how to strengthen cottage industries, Wrixon said.
"People will benefit from this, but at the end of the day, the things that will be the most benefit will be the exchanges on a personal level, experiences learned from study abroad."
Staff and student exchanges between the schools will begin in January 2006. UCC has about 15,500 students, is located in Ireland's second largest city and is a rapidly expanding center for culture and the arts.
Like Missoula, Cork is known for international film and choral festivals.
UCC, which was founded in 1845, has a strong liberal arts curriculum, a law and medical school, and a renowned program dedicated to Irish studies, language, music and archaeology.
Strengthening the ties between Montana and Ireland is the focus of a two-day conference at the University of Montana this week.
The following is a complete schedule of lectures and events; the public is invited.
3-5 p.m. - "Into the West, Looking Homeward: Cork and Montana in the Age of Globalization," Dell Brown Room, Turner Hall, roundtable discussion moderated by Dave Emmons, UM professor emeritus of history.
"The Politics of Culture: America and the Irish Revival," by Traolach O'Riordain, Irish language instructor, Montana Gaelic Cultural Society.
"The Unseen Translation: Irish and Irish-American Studies in the West and in Montana," by Katie Kane, UM English assistant professor.
"An Island Lightly Moored: Ireland in the American Imagination," by Eric Reimer, UM English adjunct professor.
"The Irish Language and the Irish People: an Ongoing Debate," by Sean O'Coileain, professor and director of the Department of Modern Irish at University College, Cork Ireland (UCC).
"Tolerance and Intolerance in Ireland: the Jewish Immigrant Experience" by Dermot Keogh, professor and director of the UCC Department of History.
"Synge and the Language of the People," by Colbert Kearney, UCC professor and head of the Department of English.
7 p.m. - "Blunt Instruments of Conquest: Irish Outlanders in Montana," by David Emmons, UM history professor emeritus, University Center Theater.
3-5 p.m. - "The Celtic Tiger Meets the Wild West: Forging Business Partnerships," Dell Brown Room. Includes real-life examples from the worlds of business, art, culture and science. Roundtable discussion moderated by Arnie Sherman, executive director of the Montana World Trade Center.
"A Stroke of Genius and an Encore: Art and Culture Help Strengthen Business Relationships," by Geoffrey Sutton, program director, Montana World Trade Center.
Art and culture panel - Monte Dolack, local Missoula artist; Greg Johnson, artistic director, Montana Repertory Theatre; and Breandan Feiritear, independent filmmaker.
"Sharing Ideas in Geology: the Fundamentals of an Exchange Planned for 2006 Between UCC and UM," by Jim Sears, UM geology professor.
"The U.S. Study Abroad Experience at University College, Cork," by Louise Tobin, international education officer, UCC International Educations Office.
"Doing Business in Ireland: Montana Success Stories," by Fraser McLeay, Montana World Trade Center senior manager.
"Ireland: A Stepping Stone to Europe," by Russel Moody of Stevensville's Omega 2 Hot Tubs.
"Switching Back: Evaluating the Celtic Tiger After Dealing with Asian Tigers: The O'Donnell Perspective," by Dennis O'Donnell, UM economics professor.
7 p.m. - "U.S.-Ireland Alliance: A Personal Vision," by Gerard Wrixon, UCC president, University Center Theater.
Reporter Betsy Cohen can be reached at 523-5253 or at firstname.lastname@example.org