Share |

ASU, Central America Educators Discuss Global Partnership

Special to the Metro

Representatives from the Albany State University Office of Global Programs are looking to the future. They are collaborating with educators representing Belizean colleges and universities to expand study abroad opportunities for students and faculty.

In July, representatives from two-year and four-year colleges, and universities in Belize met with members of the ASU Office of Global Programs, Academic Affairs, College of Education and College of Business to discuss partnership opportunities. The Belize institutions include Galen University, Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College, Sacred Heart Junior College and Independence Junior College.

“Internationalization is crucial to creating a more prepared faculty and student with an understanding of the cultural context of teaching and learning,” said Kathaleena Edward Monds, co-director of the ASU Center for Economic Education/Small and Minority Entrepreneurship.

The Central American institutions were asked to provide faculty profiles in order to collaborate with ASU faculty on research and grant opportunities.

The education system in Belize is experiencing growth in enrollment and programs of study, which helps to reinforce the education system and encourages partnerships that will sustain the quality of programs. ASU is one of the prospective U.S. partnership institutions.

“A passion of mine is higher education for national development,” said Cynthia Eve Aird, provost at the Galen University main campus. Aird led the discussion about the use of virtual collaborations and joint faculty course development as an incentive to promote faculty, staff and student exchange programs.

Galen University is interested in collaborations for programs, which will include agreements to offer a master’s degree in criminal justice, with an emphasis in restorative and juvenile justice with a service learning component, a program in entrepreneurship and a program in early childhood education.

Other forthcoming initiatives include increasing the number of international students at ASU with global partners. Albany State is working to create an entrepreneurship degree program that engages students and faculty in development and exchange initiatives. This mission-driven curriculum is designed to create opportunities for collaborative research and study abroad opportunities.

“ASU now has an approved Comprehensive Internationalization Strategic Plan,” said Nneka Osakwe, director of the ASU Office of Global Programs.  Curricula and programs are being revised to infuse international learning and all colleges, departments, faculty and staff are involved in the process. We want to ensure that the rest of the student population, who do not study abroad, acquire international and intercultural competence through internationalized lectures, campus activities and interacting with international students.”

In recent years, the university has had the highest number of students traveling abroad internationally since the program’s inception. During the 2015-2016 academic year, a total of 28 students studied in eight countries.

“We had seven students in Belize, eight students in China, four students in the Dominican Republic, five students in Trinidad and Tobago and four students studying with the USG-European Council program in France, Spain, Ireland and London,” Osakwe said. “We are also developing programs to include Jamaica and Japan.”

The ASU Central America partnership will provide development of the university’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, internship opportunities and research opportunities, among other initiatives.

ASU has constituted a committee to map out action plans for activation and implementation of the programs.

(Front row, l to r):  Cynthia Eve Aird, (Galen University), Rhonda Porter (ASU), Rocio Carballo (Sacred Heart Junior College), Alicia Jackson (ASU), and FermÍ D. Magaña (Sacred Heart Junior College). (Back row, l to r):  Nneka Osakwe (ASU), Marie Scott-Young (Independence Junior College) Olufunke A. Fontenot (ASU), Karen Martinez and Gasper Martinez (Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College) and Kathaleena Edward Monds (ASU).