Ball State trades troops for teachers in Iraq and Afghanistan

Topics: International Education, Miller College of Business, Student Affairs, College of Communication Information and Media, Immersive Learning

November 14, 2011

As the U.S. moves its military presence out of Iraq and Afghanistan and shifts to rebuilding, Ball State University plays a pivotal role as it helps bring the countries' educational systems into the 21st century.

Ball State's efforts include training administrators, teaching students, providing curriculum development and establishing a career center. Administrators and faculty members are working with universities in Iraq (Tikrit University) and Afghanistan (Kandahar University and Shaikh Zayed University), thanks to four $1 million grants from the U.S. Department of State.

"These grants are a testament to the university's commitment to international students, and they underscore Ball State's top-notch faculty and reputation for producing high-achieving students," said Ken Holland, dean of the Rinker Center for International Programs.

One grant allows Ball State to help the Iraqi government establish an English language institute (ELI) in Baghdad. Housed in a former U.S. military base, the ELI will prepare Iraqi scholarship recipients to study at U.S. colleges and universities. The 18-month project is expected to increase the number of Iraqi students in the U.S. by 300 percent.

Another grant enables Ball State to help Kandahar University to develop curriculum for its newly created College of Economics. Michael Goldsby, the Stoops distinguished professor of entrepreneurship, leads faculty members from Ball State's nationally ranked Entrepreneurship Center. This group works closely with members of Kandahar's economics department to create courses that encourage entrepreneurship, as well as business and economic development. Plus, experts from Ball State's Career Center will provide support to Kandahar University's own career center, which will help integrate the university with local businesses, creating opportunities for student internships and employment.

Ball State's most recent grant in Afghanistan involves its journalism and telecommunications departments working with Shaikh Zayed University in Khost to strengthen its journalism program. Ball State faculty members are also contributing their expertise as Shaikh Zayed begins construction of a Media Operations Center, built by the U.S. State Department, which will include a radio station, television studio and printing press.

Ball State's first grant allowed a group of faculty from accounting, computer science and English to travel to Baghdad and visit with Tikrit University officials to begin transforming the university's curriculum and teaching techniques. Even now, Ball State professors teach courses in English, accounting and computer science via the Web and videoconferencing to some of Tikrit's top students.

"As educators, we're interested in educating anybody who's willing to learn — it's in our DNA," said Fred Kitchens, associate professor of information systems. "It's a way of giving back."

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