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8 WKU faculty members selected for inaugural seminar to Ecuador

Eight WKU faculty members have been selected to participate in the inaugural Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar to Ecuador (ZSEIFS).

oip_iyc ecuadorThe ZSEIFS is an interdisciplinary faculty study program designed to enhance the overall objectives of the larger, campus-based initiative: the International Year Of… program.   The International Year Of… program, set to kick off in the fall of 2014, is intended to provide the WKU campus and surrounding community with a rich, complex sense of place and interconnectedness through a yearlong celebration and emphasis on a single region/country. Ecuador is the first country to be celebrated.

Participants of the seminar will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of Ecuador, enhance their teaching, research and service with Ecuadorian content and examples, and develop professional connections in Ecuador and with their fellow participants.

Faculty members selected are: Aaron Hughey, Student Affairs; Albert Meier, Biology; Beverly Holland, Nursing; Donielle Lovell, Sociology, WKU-Elizabethtown/Fort Knox; Jill Brown, Liberal Arts & Sciences; Kelly Conroy, Modern Languages; and Virginia Pfohl and William Pfohl, Psychology.

Participants will begin engaging with Ecuador long before they arrive in Quito on May 18. During the spring semester, participants will meet regularly, completing group readings and assignments on a range of topics centering on Ecuador. The direction of the seminar and the topics covered are established with the participants in mind.

During the 14 days in country, seminar participants will connect with other specialists and experts in their respective fields, participate in group lectures and site visits that build upon the pre-seminar readings and discussions.

The seminar will also develop participants professionally—with presentations and readings throughout the semester dedicated to the successful internationalization of teaching, research and program design.

While administered by the Office of International Programs, the ZSEIFS is a collaborative effort. Academic colleges and departments support faculty participants by sharing the cost of the program with OIP.

“One of the goals of the International Faculty Seminar is to prime the pump for the campus-wide International Year Of Ecuador,” Craig T. Cobane, WKU’s Chief International Officer, said. “The seminar will provide a core group of faculty an interdisciplinary international experience, that will lead to the infusion of Ecuadorian examples, modules and case studies into their courses. By providing this type of annual international professional development experience for WKU faculty, we facilitate the further internationalization of the curriculum, and thus, helping internationalize our campus and our students educational experience.”

David Coffey in Agriculture and Melissa Stewart in Modern Languages will lead the program.

“We are fortunate that our inaugural international faculty seminar is being led by two seasoned faculty experts in the region,” Dr. Cobane said.

Dr. Coffey said the participants play a substantial role in shaping the seminar.

“In their applications, they set goals for themselves and develop reading lists,” he said. “The group readings and discussions as well as the in-country itinerary are influenced by the objectives of the participating faculty.”

The Zuheir Sofia Endowment was created to facilitate the mission of the Office of International Programs, which endeavors to provide leadership in the development of a strong international profile. OIP, under the guidance of faculty leader Mike Stokes in Biology, is preparing for the international faculty seminar to South Africa in summer 2015. Applications for that seminar will be available this summer.

About the Office of International Programs: The Office of International Programs supports the internationalization agenda of the university by creating opportunities for faculty and staff development in an global context and supporting the development of meaningful co-curricular programming for student, campus and community audiences.

Contact: International Programs, (270) 745-3036.

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