Building on the University of Georgia’s longstanding foreign outreach mission, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government brought together the leaders of two university communities this summer to inaugurate an new international economic and educational exchange program.

The institute’s International Center helped arrange a six-year exchange agreement between the Athens–Clarke County government and a district in South Korea’s capital of Seoul. Athens–Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson and Seodaemun District Mayor Seok-Jin Mun signed the compact during a ceremony in Athens City Hall. Mun is the chief executive of Seodaemun, one of 25 districts in Seoul and home to nine universities.

“I am delighted to be part of the beginning of cooperation and friendship with Athens, and I’ll spare no effort in supporting future exchanges. I am hopeful that mutual exchanges will lead to economic growth and prosperity for both communities,” he said.

The memorandum of understanding calls for the two governments to explore international cultural, educational, and economic exchanges through at least 2021.

Denson said she looks forward to developing a fruitful and substantive relationship with Korean leaders.

“I am confident that through the signing of this MOU we can begin efforts to develop even stronger relationships and friendships between the people of Athens and Seodaemun,” Denson said.

The agreement states that Athens and Seodaemun leaders will cooperate in sharing information, knowledge and resources to promote economic and entrepreneurial activities between the two governments.

Mun led a three-member delegation from Seodaemun. During the visit, Mun and two aides also met with UGA President Jere W. Morehead and UGA Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum, visited the Athens Community Career Academy for talks with Clarke County Schools Superintendent Philip D. Lanoue, and toured cultural, recreational and educational facilities managed by the Athens-Clarke County government. In addition, the delegation attended a presentation on town-gown economic development collaborations moderated by Institute Director Laura Meadows.

“We look forward to working with Mayor Mun and Mayor Denson as they forge a new friendship and explore cooperative ways to help both communities share their unique cultural and educational assets,” Meadows said.

The Institute’s International Center provides technical assistance and comprehensive training and development programs that have attracted scholars and government leaders from 30 countries around the globe. The center coordinates educational exchanges with governmental and educational institutions in Korea and China, two of UGA’s major Asian partners, including the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Governors Association of Korea. The center regularly arranges UGA research appointments with visiting scholars who audit university classes, attend seminars and conduct research.