Over the coming decade, the Caribbean region will likely become a significant focus of attention for US interests. Environmental systems and climate change link the Caribbean and the US—from hurricane tracks to migratory and invasive species to the northward migration of tropical diseases. Economic systems link the region and the US, particularly as Cuba and the US slowly normalize relations and trade, and reconfigure economic relations throughout the Caribbean. Increased cultural ties, educational opportunities, and scientific and scholarly partnerships are likely to become important elements of US foreign policy in the region, business interests, and people-to-people exchange.
Clemson University is well positioned to become a leading university in this geopolitical and economic shift. It is one of the few outstanding universities in the American South with a land grant mission relevant to the needs of the region. It has an enthused and skilled faculty, with many having specialized experience and expertise useful to the region (see Appendix for a sampling of current Clemson faculty Caribbean projects), and a growing graduate student population that can serve as talented partners in exchange efforts. The University administration is committed to Clemson being a national and international leader, and its aspirational goals for research make international scientific and scholarly collaboration necessary and essential.