Miesing’s Fulbright Program Explores Rural Innovation in Chile

a man stands indoors in front of fresh fruit at a farmer's market in Santiago, Chile.
Professor Emeritus Paul Miesing will serve as a Fulbright specialist in Chile this spring. He visited Santiago in 2018 to study rural economic development. (Photo provided)

By Michael Parker

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 9, 2023) — As a Fulbright Scholar in 1998-99, Professor Emeritus Paul Miesing was tasked with teaching MBA students in Fudan strategic management at a time when graduate business programs in China were rapidly expanding. He found his students to be conscientious notetakers, as well as enthusiastic, interesting and friendly.

Unfortunately, Miesing was unable to return to the Fulbright program before his retirement in 2021 as a Professor of Management at the School of Business.

“When I was in China in 1998-1999, it was about the mid-point of my UAlbany career and it certainly was a positive experience,” said Miesing. “I would have liked to repeat it but didn’t really have that opportunity due to other commitments.”

This included serving as the Founding Director of the University’s Center for Advancement & Understanding of Social Enterprises (CAUSE) starting in 2015. After retirement, Miesing returned an O’Leary Professor for the fall 2021 semester to help with the school’s inaugural ESG Symposium.

This spring, Miesing is getting the opportunity to return to the Fulbright program as a Fulbright Specialist in Chile, where he will combine his passion for mentorship with an exploration of sustainability and social issues through a project on rural innovation and entrepreneurship.

“In 2018, I helped invite Dr. Pablo Isla Madariaga from the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María in Chile to UAlbany, his alma mater, for his first sabbatical,” said Miesing. “He attended my classes and I arranged for a small discussion about his experiences with social enterprises and teaching about them.”

In 2019, Madariaga, who received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from UAlbany in 1995, brought Miesing to Chile, where he lectured on the role business can play in solving the most pressing challenges of our day.

Miesing presented “Why is business best suited to solve today’s ‘Grand Challenges’?” at the Universidad Austral de Chile in Valdivia and at Madariaga’s Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria in Santiago.

The collaboration has continued through their conference presentation, “Advancing on Circular Economy: The Perspective of Plastic Containers and Packaging Regulations in Chile,” which was delivered during the 16th International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic & Social Sustainability held in Santiago.

Madariaga, who now serves as director of the Departamento de Ingeniería Comercial, will host Miesing at the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María at campuses in Santiago and in Valparaiso in April and May.

“The project will center around ‘Rural Innovation & Entrepreneurship,’ with an ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) framework,” continued Miesing. “In short, we hope to make the countryside a viable and vibrant engine of growth that attracts and retains talent.”

Madariaga and Miesing believe this approach would minimize risks such as climate change, food insecurity, and social disparities by creating multiple communities that are diversified, self-sufficient, and yet connected.

“The countryside — always a wealth of natural resources, beauty, and quality of life — should also consist of innovation hubs. This approach is gaining ground in the U.S. and we hope to apply lessons learned to Chile as well,” said Miesing.

April Roggio, a research scholar with UAlbany’s Center for Policy Research (CPR), who received her PhD from UAlbany in 2011, will also embark on a Fulbright fellowship in the Spring of 2024 at the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María in Chile hosted by Madariaga.

Roggio’s work at CPR is funded through the New York Health Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Her current research involves evaluating New York’s Regional Economic Development Council model to determine how well it supports rural communities, their entrepreneurs and local food systems.

“The Fulbright Scholar award is one synergistic outcome of this work, and it enables me to expand the breadth of my team’s research and to collaborate directly with a colleague in Chile,” said Roggio.

Roggio points to evidence that Chilean local food systems have thrived irrespective of Chile’s development trajectory, unlike the difficulties encountered by rural communities in the U.S.

“We’re eager to learn more about how our different approaches to rural entrepreneurship and innovation might inform one another,” continued Roggio. “And we’re looking forward to developing a long-lasting research program between our schools.”