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Students Play a Key Role in the Next Chapter of the UC/Iraq Educational Partnership


Get details on what’s in the planning for an April trip to Iraq as UC continues a State Department-sponsored linkages program to improve education around the world.

Date: 4/9/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823

UC ingot   University of Cincinnati graduate and undergraduate students will be leading teaching and research projects this month as part of UC’s educational partnership with Salahaddin University-Hawler in Erbil, Iraq. The partnership is among a handful of U.S. institutions selected by the U.S. Department of State to improve education around the world.

The trip takes place April 13-20. A nine-member delegation representing the School of Education for the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) will travel to Erbil – a Kurdish region in Northern Iraq – to work with four colleges represented by Salahaddin University-Hawler: the College of Languages, College of Education for Human Sciences, College of Basic Education and College of Administration and Economy.

Brian Schanding and Jessica Braine, doctoral students in literacy and second language studies, will lead teaching demonstrations in English language courses as part of the trip. In addition, Tom Highley, a doctoral student in literacy and second language studies, will lead teaching demonstrations in English literature courses. All three will also take part in research training sessions as well as discussions to plan future research partnerships, says Laura Dell, School of Education academic director of distance learning, who will also be traveling with the UC delegation.

In addition, Jennifer Williamson, an undergraduate Spanish major in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) will be assisting in collecting research data as well as leading discussions with undergraduates at Salahaddin.

UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) and Carl H. Lindner College of Business are in the second year of the three-year linkages partnership. UC is one of five U.S. higher education institutions involved in the partnership, which is funded by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of State. The linkages program aims to strengthen the expertise of Iraqi faculty in teaching and research, strengthen online learning and teaching skills, build international exchange opportunities, establish a community career center and increase fluency in English.

George Vredeveld, economics professor for the Carl H. Lindner College of Business Economics Center, will travel to the region April 24-27 to assist in the unveiling of the new community career center. Vredeveld will also assist the university in communicating the role of the center to the outlying community.

The linkages partnership exemplifies the collaborative and global engagement operational principles of the UC2019 Strategic Plan.

“Two years ago, we had a very fuzzy idea about what building a partnership with the faculty and students at Salahaddin University in Northern Iraq would look like – we started with more barriers than solutions, and we did not understand the culture and aspirations of the people of Kurdistan,” says Nelson Vincent, CECH associate dean.  “Today, our colleagues and friends from Kurdistan have names and personal stories. We know their families and we have hosted two delegations from Salahaddin University in Cincinnati.

“Kurdish professors are meeting regularly with UC professors in BlackBoard online communities, and we routinely video conference and Skype with our colleagues in Iraq,” says Vincent. “We are excited that UC students will be visiting Iraq and meeting Kurdish university students for the first time. A partnership between UC and Salahaddin University seemed distant and intangible two years ago, and now our collaboration is very personal, thriving and changing cultural awareness and mutual appreciation in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, and Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq.”

Members of the UC CECH Delegation Traveling to Salahaddin University-Hawler:

  • Jessica Braine, doctoral student, literacy and second language studies
  • Laura Dell, School of Education academic director of distance learning
  • Carlee Escue, assistant professor, School of Education
  • Holly Johnson, director, UC School of Education
  • Tom Highley, doctoral student, literacy and second language studies
  • Brian Schanding, UC doctoral student, literacy and second language studies
  • Nelson Vincent, associate dean, CECH
  • Jennifer Williamson, who’s earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and an undergraduate certificate in Arabic through the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S)
  • Pam Williamson, assistant professor, School of Education

Other U.S. partners in the linkages program are Ball State University, Oklahoma State University, Cleveland State University and the University of Kentucky.