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The Global Partners Project

Phase One Proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

 

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INTERNATIONAL LEARNING CENTERS

We propose to develop three model International Learning Centers to promote the interdisciplinary study of global issues, identify and eliminate program redundancies and inefficiencies, strengthen links between off-campus and on-campus curricula, and provide support for program leaders.
The Centers we envision will

  • Create efficiencies and resource-sharing by coordinating the various local efforts of the forty-one participating colleges
  • Promote curriculum development both on and off campus through interdisciplinary and thematically organized faculty seminars and research opportunities
  • Increase opportunities for off-campus study and research by facilitating individual, short-term, summer, or other study outside the context of a semester or year program for credit.

While these goals will be common to all three Centers, each will have a specific focus, structure, and mission particular to its place and moment. For example, Africa is an area of burgeoning interest in which there is a longstanding program, while Turkey is an area of specialized interest in which a program is being newly developed, and Russia and East/Central Europe is an area of strong historical commitment but limited pools of current student and faculty interest.

The Centers will be widely promoted and publicized through the existing newsletters, Web sites, meetings, and conferences of ACM, ACS, and GLCA. Further, each Center will develop material, electronic or print, for dissemination through the three consortial offices. Each Center will have a contact person in the consortial office and on site (the program coordinator), who will be in regular communication.

Local Networks: Each Center will reach out to other programs and activities operated or supported by the forty-one participating institutions in its geographic region. A primary goal of this outreach will be to explore resource sharing or creating efficiencies through collaboration. For example, programs might negotiate arrangements to share orientation activities or materials, guest lecturers, staff positions, travel opportunities, or emergency-response resources. Arrangements might also be reached with local institutions to create cost-effective and efficient access to resources. Because each Center will represent forty-one institutions, it will represent a valuable centralized contact for local institutions seeking connections with American institutions. The development of the local network will finally be directed toward the identification and elimination of redundant programs and resources.

Faculty Seminars: Each Center will develop one or more on-site, interdisciplinary, thematically-focussed faculty development seminars. These seminars will bring together key people from the forty-one campuses with research and teaching interests in the area. Each participant in the faculty seminar will be expected to maintain an active connection with the Center, whether by creating links between students in a course on campus and the Center, working with other seminar participants and Center staff on curriculum development, pursuing a collaborative research project with students or faculty in the Center, or working with Center staff on orientation or reentry programming. Seminar participants will form an invaluable core of people to focus and lead consortial discussions of curricular and pedagogical strategy related to African, Middle Eastern, or European Studies.

Creating Resources: Resources will be developed to support visiting scholars, both students and faculty, who are not participating in a semester or year long program. These might include local orientation modules (electronic or print), introductions to local scholars or institutions, access to program resources (technology, office space), or opportunities to attend classes or meet with program students and faculty. These resources will be promoted on all participating campuses, with the idea that students working on a senior thesis might make a short visit to the area for research purposes or that faculty doing sabbatical research in the region might make the center a "home base." Visits might take place at any time of the year, for any length of time, and most visitors will be self, institutionally, or grant funded.

These resources will also be shared with and support offered to faculty on member campuses who are considering creating a program in the region: for example, to facilitate the work of a faculty member who would like to create a one-time winter term program for a specific class.

In sum, we expect each center to

  • enter into collaboration with neighboring programs or institutions to create efficiency, reduce redundancy, and control costs
  • offer a faculty seminar which leads to ongoing collaborations with program students, faculty , or other participants
  • support the work of faculty and student visitors
  • provide joint representation in the area for the forty-one participating institutions and serve as a resource and contact point for them.

Sites. We have identified three sites with excellent potential for modeling the International Learning Centers. We have chosen them in part because existing resources make us confident of their potential and because they allow for different foci and activities, developing different aspects of the model. Each Center will be collaboratively developed, with one organization spearheading the effort in each site.

Turkey (led by ACS). The proposed initiative in Turkey represents a creative effort to interlink and combine the resources of current efforts in the area, bringing talented faculty and administrators together in educationally compelling and cost effective ways.

Overseen by a project director and a planning committee representing the participating institutions, the center will reach out to students and faculty. Semester and summer courses, field studies and research projects are foreseen, along with opportunities for service learning. Faculty will be afforded opportunities to teach consortial courses, participate in seminars, make use of travel grants through which they can enhance their understanding of the area and related subjects, and engage in research with consortial colleagues and with scholars from Turkey and elsewhere in the region.

In Turkey we will build on the existing Mellon-funded ACS program in history and archeology through which on-line courses, extensive "real time" communication, study tours, a field dig and other activities are currently underway. The existing program is focussed on the use of technology to support the study of Anatolian archeology and history: with additional funding from this grant, it will be expanded to include a second track on the interdisciplinary and comparative study of the modern Middle East, with particular emphasis on Islamic Studies and Peace Studies and other subjects.

Proposed activities will include courses conducted in collaboration with Turkish institutions, technological links to participating campuses, and expanded experiential and service learning programs for students through cooperation with Turkish organizations. A number of on-line courses will be developed.

This Center will draw on the strong resources and current activities of Trinity University, Southwestern University, and Rhodes Colleges (in the ACS) and Beloit College and St. Olaf College (in the ACM).

Russia and East/Central Europe (led by ACM). A Russia and East/Central Europe Center will be built on the connections and activities of two current programs managed by ACM and recognized by GLCA, one at Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic, and one at Kuban State University in Krasnodar, Russia. We are fortunate to have worked with Dr. Vladimir Andreevich Babeshko, Rector of Kuban State University, and Dr. Josef Jazab, former Rector of Palacky University and current Rector of Central European University in Budapest. In addition, each of these programs has an existing network of faculty advisors from ACM and GLCA member colleges, many of whom have visited the sites or served as resident directors.

The many historical and cultural commonalties in this region, and the fact that many faculty members involved in Slavic Studies have transnational interests, justifies regarding Russia and East/Central Europe as one Center with two sites. In Russia the Center will particularly emphasize language pedagogy, while in East/Central Europe it will serve faculty and students with broad interdisciplinary interests in the humanities and social sciences.

The Russia and East/Central Europe Center will conduct one faculty seminar on site in Russia and one in the Czech Republic. It will also provide travel grants to support faculty to work with students on research projects, to pursue individual research, or to work with local institutions or specialists on course development.

The Center will consolidate the various relationships and contacts member colleges have in Russian, Czech, and Hungarian universities, cultivate those which seem most valuable, and provide information on study options in the area to improve advising. At the end of the grant period, the Center will have created a network of faculty from different disciplines with interests in the region, a systematic survey of student opportunities, and a framework for institutions and faculty from the forty-one colleges to continue collaborative efforts in Russia and East/Central Europe.

Africa (led by GLCA). Kalamazoo College will serve as "managing college" for this Center in Nairobi, Kenya. (GLCA does not directly manage off-campus programs but works through a system of managing colleges and advisory committees.) The Africa Center will be based at the University of Nairobi, where Kalamazoo's existing program is directed by Dr. Judith Bahemuka, Professor of Sociology and UNESCO Professor in Community Development. Dr. Bahemuka is assisted by Dr. Kaendi Munguti and Ms. Lillian Owiti. The program offices are located in the former Gandhi library at the University and are staffed by Ms. Jane Gitau.

The offices of the Africa Center will offer the following services:

  • facilitation of language instruction in Kiswahili
  • coordination of student and faculty programs
  • facilitation of student, faculty, and staff exchanges
  • facilitation of grant proposals and joint research projects with the various faculties of the University of Nairobi and other Kenyan universities
  • design and supervision of student and faculty short-term programs and research projects
  • phone, fax, email, and secretarial support
  • facilitation of in-country logistics and accommodation
  • facilitation of student internship identification and application
  • facilitation of visits to other universities, government agencies, and NGOs in Kenya and the region

The Africa Center will offer these services to faculty and administrators on the forty-one participating campuses interested in developing new activities in Nairobi or nearby regions, reducing the start up costs such development requires. Further, the Africa Center will offer "affiliate memberships" at no cost to existing programs already operated or supported by the forty-one participating institutions in Nairobi and the region. Affiliate status will entitle an existing program to access to the Center's services without cost, thereby creating savings for the affiliate program. (Which services will be useful to a particular affiliate program will vary with its structure, location, and purpose.) Further, affiliate programs will be eligible to apply for Africa Center Faculty and Student Fellowships to support research, travel, or study opportunities coordinated through the Center. Finally, faculty members from the forty-one participating institutions who are on site at affiliated programs will receive support from the Center to participate in the Center's Faculty Seminars and other activities.

In this way the Center will provide a focus for the efficient development of new opportunities for study and research in Kenya, provide cost-effective services for existing programs, and create connections among faculty and administrators of existing programs which will predictably lead to program consolidation and the reduction of redundancies.

Although based in East Africa, where there are many possibilities for program consolidation and collaboration, the Center will also serve as a focal point for discussions of curricular and program development in Southern Africa, an area into which many of our member institutions are interested in moving, to promote shared program development and prevent program duplication.

In the discussions which led to the selection of Turkey, Russia, the Czech Republic, and Kenya as pilot sites, there was serious consideration of a Center in Latin America. Although we are not ready to inaugurate a Center in Latin America, we will, during the course of the grant, be actively exploring options in Latin America with the intention of creating a fourth Center there. We expect that discussions of Latin America will provide one focus under Initiatives for Excellence.

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