Through new initiatives over the last three years in such varied locations as Kurdistan, South Africa, Egypt, India, Taiwan and Brazil, to name a few, ASU has been setting its international development programs on a direct course to expand faculty and students’ global engagement. In some cases the initiatives also engage North Carolina agencies and provide opportunities to students for service-learning or research in conjunction with study abroad programs.
In July/August 2009, eight ASU faculty members representing diverse disciplines (biology, chemistry, computer sciences, English, and social work) traveled to Kurdistan (northern Iraq) to work with their colleagues to strengthen the capacity of public universities in that country. Their travel to Kurdistan was funded under a $243,427 joint project between ASU, the Kurdistan Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and the U.S. Department of State. This project is designed to help five public universities in Kurdistan to revise or enhance their curriculum in several priority disciplines. In implementing this project, ASU has also involved other institution in Tennessee: Belmont University, Meharry Medical University, Tennessee Technical University, and East Tennessee State University.
Most recently, ASU was awarded two projects by the U.S. Department of State to expand its engagement with international partners and enhance their capacity. In one project, the South Africa Legislative Fellows Program, ASU has been awarded $375,000 to strengthen South Africa's democracy, assist in the empowerment of mid-level government professionals, and enhance technical skills and institution-building capacity for South African legislative professionals. Thirty South Africans will travel to the U.S. to participate in a four-week individualized internship program at the U.S. Congress, North Carolina General Assembly, and various county and municipal governments in North Carolina. North Carolina local governments that will be involved in providing internship experiences for the South Africans include: High Country Council of Government, Northwest Piedmont Council of Government, Watauga County Government, Town of Boone, McDowell County Government, City of Winston-Salem, and City of Kannapolis. Additionally, a group of 10 U.S. professionals/mentors who will have worked with the South Africans in their internships will travel to South Africa for two weeks to conduct one-on-one consultation and assessment of the progress made in implementing new ideas learned in the U.S.
Building Capacities with International Partners
In a second project, ASU has received a $100,000 to implement a two-year project aimed at enhancing the capacity of its partner institutions abroad to host ASU and other U.S. students who are studying abroad for academic credit. The targeted countries under this project are Egypt, India, South Africa, and Taiwan, locations where ASU has signed new partnership agreements in the last two years. ASU will send groups of faculty and staff for two-week visits to partner institutions in Egypt, India, South Africa, and Taiwan to consult and work with them to develop their capacities to host ASU and other U.S. students. Faculty/staff from ASU’s partner institutions abroad will also visit ASU for two-weeks of internship-type experience.
Mirroring the national trend, 79.3% of ASU students study abroad on short-term, faculty-led programs, mostly in the summer. Only 21% study abroad for a semester or a year.
“ASU has established institutional partnerships in Egypt, India, South Africa, and Taiwan in an effort to diversify and completely change the destinations and nature of its study abroad programs,” says Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, Associate Vice Chancellor for International Education and Development. “We seek to establish a good balance between short-term and long-term study abroad participation in its programs,” he says.
ASU wants to encourage students to go abroad for Service-learning, research, internships, and student teaching. The university has identified India and South Africa as strategic locations for Service-learning and community-based research.
Going Green in Brazil
ASU has also received a $120,000 research and outreach grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program/Methane to Markets Partnership for a project to investigate the potential for landfill gas (LFG) utilization in Brazil. Through this project, ASU will also educate officials and community members about the potential energy source available from landfill gas in their communities.
ASU’s approach to landfill gas utilization projects is different from the traditional approach of looking for existing users located close enough to the landfill to economically use the landfill gas. While not ignoring obvious users of the gas located adjacent to the landfill, ASU’s approach is “community-based” which first identifies energy and community needs which can be linked to the energy source represented by the landfill gas. ASU believes that the energy needs identified by each community are unique, and cannot be met by a cookie cutter approach. This project will identify 5-10 landfills in Brazil which are strong candidates for LFG utilization. The project will be centered in two regions: the northeast region in and around the state of Ceará, and the southeast region in and around the state of São Paulo. Each landfill will be recognized as an energy source around which suitable development such as an “energy park” can be built.
A team of ASU faculty members will travel to Brazil in October 2009 to begin implementation of this project. This project connects well with one of the research areas at ASU. ASU has developed contacts including a potential partner in the U.S. Commercial Service whose goal it is to promote commercial exchanges between the U.S. and Brazil.
To make this project a true exchange program, ASU and U.S. consultants will also host officials from Brazil in North and South Carolina, giving them a chance to visit several LFG and bio-fuels projects in the two states. Facilities that will be visited by the Brazilians include, but not limited, to the following:
For further information, please contact:
Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa
Associate Vice Chancellor
International Education and Development
Appalachian State University