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Educational exchanges take place in numerous ways, involving students and teachers on all educational levels. Baltimore and Rotterdam periodically send school officials to each other’s cities, to trade knowledge. Our committee has also helped to establish several ongoing student exchange programs.

Elementary/Middle/High Schools

Rotterdam schools occasionally contact us about doing exchange projects with Baltimore. If you are affiliated with a Baltimore school, and your school is interested in an exchange, you can contact our committee.

Rotterdam artist and theatre artist Kathie diStefano from Avalanche Arts (Stichting Lawine) has done several artist residencies in Baltimore over the years, with a focus on Baltimore’s Brooklyn-Curtis Bay neighborhood. During these residencies, she has worked with students, teachers, and community residents. diStefano is currently facilitating exchanges between Baltimore and Rotterdam area schools with an environmental theme. She has received a grant from the Netherlands Chapter of World Wide Fund for Nature (WNF) for this initiative.

More information on our HarborTraces website

Medical Education

University of Maryland School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have ongoing student exchange programs with Erasmus Medical School in Rotterdam. University of Maryland’s program was started in 1985. These university exchanges were initially started in the 1980’s with help from Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee members.

Art Education

The Willem de Kooning Academie (WdKA) in Rotterdam and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore have had an institutional partnership since 1992, born of the efforts of Annet Couwenberg, Professor in the Fiber Department at MICA, a native of Rotterdam (Couwenberg also served as chair of the Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee for many years).

In the beginning, exchange of students between the two institutions was slow — only one student every couple of years. But since 2004, interest in each college as a study abroad destination has grown exponentially. As many as five students a semester participate in study abroad exchange between MICA and WdKA, in areas such as fibers/fashion, graphic design, illustration, painting and sculpture.

The schools are currently engaged in Unravel the Code, a recurring collaborative interdisciplinary course about digital fabrication and smart textiles. Students from both schools participate in classes together, across the Atlantic. Johns Hopkins University’s Digital Media Center and Technische Universiteit Eindhoven have also collaborated on this coursework. More information and examples of the student work:

Another exchange is being considered, where art education students will facilitate exchange programs between Baltimore and Rotterdam K-12 schools.

A joint Masters program in Fashion Design is being considered between WdKA, MICA and other institutions in Europe and Asia. 

Faculty exchange and collaboration is also a large part of the institutional relationship between WdKA and MICA. Bernard Canniffe, Chair of Graphic Design at MICA, has traveled to Rotterdam for two consecutive summers for a collaborative design project in the Oud Noord section of Rotterdam. Bernard Canniffe worked with graphic design students and physicians in Rotterdam that would communicate health messages to a disenfranchised community. The design projects also empowered the community and helped dispel social and cultural stereotypes. In 2006, MICA welcomed guest professor from WdKA, Peter Zuiderwijk, to teach Graphic Design IV, a junior-year required course in the Graphic Design department. Peter Zuiderwijk was the fifth Dutch graphic designer to take part in this cultural exchange initiative.

In the past, WdKA and LMC (a consortium of Rotterdam schools) visited Baltimore to learn about magnet school programs for the visual arts, in elementary through high schools. They are using the ideas they’ve learned from Baltimore to set up a visual arts school in Rotterdam.

WdKA and MICA also have collaborated with the Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee on Reflection, an art educational exchange program between Baltimore and Rotterdam public schools (elementary, middle, and high schools).

Architecture Education

Professors Jeremy Kargon and Cristina Murphy at Morgan State University School of Architecture & Planning co-taught a graduate architecture studio with a Baltimore-Rotterdam theme in 2017. Students concepted structures to welcome newcomers, for a location in Baltimore and a location in Rotterdam. More collaborations with Rotterdam are being planned for the future.

University of Maryland School of Medicine
University of Maryland School of Medicine at night, with downtown Baltimore in the background.
(Photo: © George Hagegeorge)

Maryland Institute College of Art's Brown Center.
(Photo: © George Hagegeorge)