Junior faculty from Afghanistan learning at Purdue

January 15, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Fourteen junior faculty members from Afghanistan have begun a nine-week program at Purdue University to broaden their skills as teachers, gain insight into the U.S. system of higher education and increase mutual understanding between the people of both countries.

The Afghan Junior Faculty Development Program, sponsored by the State Department and administered by the Council for International Exchange Scholars, is managed by Purdue's International Programs in Agriculture,

This year's group, the largest of five so far, arrived on campus Jan. 11. The program will take the visitors into March. 

The junior faculty are teachers developing in such areas as medicine, physics, engineering and English literature. Primary program responsibilities are carried out in the Center for Instructional Excellence, the English department and Purdue Libraries. The program also collaborates with several academic departments, faculty and administrators from across the campus, multiple student life and support organizations, and members of the broader Indiana community.

IPIA had managed the program as a pilot project for the first three years at the request of the State Department, which knew that Purdue had been involved in efforts to help rebuild the educational system and economy of war-torn Afghanistan since 2002. 

"Initially, we were awarded the program because of our longstanding contact with Afghanistan institutions, our understanding of Afghanistan and the needs of the Afghan faculty members," said Kevin T. McNamara, assistant director of International Programs in Agriculture and who leads the program.

Seven participants from last year's program went on to earn Fulbright or other scholarships for Master of Science studies, enabling them to return to the U.S. or travel to Europe to continue their education.

"So it has been a successful program - both in teaching Afghan faculty members skills to use in their teaching programs and in preparing young Afghans for graduate study opportunities," McNamara said.

Among the training and activities the Afghan junior faculty members will experience while at Purdue:

* An intensive, one-week English program with weekly follow-up classes.

* Workshops on teaching methodologies, curriculum development and course development, including follow-up consultation with individual Purdue faculty.

* Attending classes in their field of study.

* Activities to connect the Afghans to Purdue student life, such as by attending a Big Ten Conference basketball game and Purdue Convocations programs.

* Visiting other educational institutions such as IUPUI and Ivy Tech and a high school in Jay County.

* Other visits and activities that provide insight into American culture, including a trip to Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana.           

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, robins89@purdue.edu 

Source: Kevin T. McNamara, 765- 494-4236, mcnamara@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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