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UC/Iraq Educational Partnership Plans November Reunion

Two groups representing the University of Cincinnati will make two separate trips to Iraq in November, as part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored linkages program to improve education around the world.

Date: 10/17/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823

UC ingot   Come November, University of Cincinnati faculty, staff and graduate students will be leading career development workshops, providing feedback on research courses, discussing literature and exploring future opportunities for post-doctoral students.
Iraq Map

All of these plans are underway as two UC groups largely representing the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) and the UC Career Development Center (CDC) visit Salahaddin University-Hawler in Erbil, Iraq. The visits begin on Nov. 2.

The trip marks the final year in a three-year, U.S. State Department-sponsored linkages program to provide technical and educational support for college programs serving undergraduate students in Iraq.

UC is among only five U.S. institutions that were selected to form individual partnerships with five Iraqi universities. The partnership exemplifies UC 2019 strategies to expand international partnerships and overseas research collaborations.

The partnership aims to accomplish the following goals:

  • Strengthen the expertise of Iraqi faculty
  • Strengthen Iraqi faculty skills in teaching
  • Increase Iraqi faculty research talent
  • Strengthen online learning and teaching skills
  • Build international exchange opportunities
  • Establish a Hawler community career center
  • Increase fluency in English

The first week of the November trip will include a best practices conference on creating career centers at the Iraqi institutions. Theresa Aberle, adjunct instructor and program coordinator for the UC Career Development Center, says she will work with the Iraqi partners to develop effective workshops and resources. “One of my strengths here at UC involves giving workshop presentations to students in a variety of colleges and programs. I will also be assisting our partner with creating career resources for the needs of all of the Iraqi university partners in the program.”

It will be the second trip to Iraq for Tom Highley, a UC doctoral student in education and 8th-grade teacher at Nagel Middle School in the Forest Hills School District. Highley will be evaluating the implementation of student-centered teaching techniques in literature classes at Saladaddin, and examining whether Western teaching methods transfer successfully into Kurdish college classrooms. “My participation in this partnership has been an amazing experience,” says Highley. “The people we’ve met – they’re my friends now. I was referred to as ‘Elder Brother’ on my last trip. They’re an extremely open and warm people, and I’m excited to go back and see them again.”

“Both teams will be following up with the work we’ve been doing on curriculum changes and teaching methods,” adds Connie Kendall Theado, a UC assistant professor of teacher education. In addition, she says the teams will be continuing work with their Iraqi colleagues on research methodology and professional writing practices, as well as exploring opportunities where these partnerships can present their research at professional conferences.

Pam Williamson, a former CECH assistant professor and associate professor at University of North Carolina Greensboro, will travel with the first group and remain in Iraq the second week to teach a short course on qualitative research and best practices involving research.

Laura Dell, academic director of distance learning for the UC School of Education, says the second group will be observing and mentoring Iraqi instructors. “We have spent a great deal of time working with Salahaddin University to develop more student-oriented teaching practices versus classroom lectures, and we’ll be watching them practice these techniques that draw more interaction from students.”

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

Week 1, Departing Cincinnati on Nov. 2:

  • Theresa Aberle, adjunct instructor and program coordinator for the UC Career Development Center
  • Tom Highley, doctoral student, literacy and second language studies
  • Connie Kendall Theado, UC assistant professor of teacher education
  • Pam Williamson, former CECH assistant professor and associate professor, School of Education, University of North Carolina Greensboro. Williamson will remain in Iraq during the second week to continue teaching a course about research and best practices involving research

Week 2, Departing Cincinnati on Nov. 8

  • Cate Crosby, UC assistant professor of teacher education
  • Laura Dell, School of Education academic director of distance learning
  • Brian Schanding, UC doctoral student, literacy and second language studies
UC representatives last visited their Iraqi partners in April. Their first trip to the Kurdish region in Northern Iraq occurred shortly after the partnership was announced in June 2010. Representatives of Salahaddin University previously visited UC in November 2010 and in June 2011, when they participated in workshops that focused on economics, course development, educational technology, student-centered learning, intensive English and academic libraries. They also took a tour of Cincinnati’s most popular attractions.

Holly Johnson, associate dean of CECH, adds that a final trip under the grant is planned to Erbil next April.  However, it’s hoped that the partnership will continue.

The UC colleges involved in the linkages program include CECH and the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, which has previously worked with Salahaddin University to improve its economics and finance curriculum.

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