Purdue readying for another Afghan faculty training program

January 28, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A State Department team has wrapped up a site visit to Purdue University as the College of Agriculture embarks on a three-year program to help faculty at a university in Afghanistan better provide academic programs supporting their nation's agriculture.

During the partnership, several Purdue faculty will visit Herat University in western Afghanistan, and 44 Herat junior faculty members and students will undergo training at Purdue in groups during the summer and the spring and fall semesters.

"The goal of the partnership is to strengthen their faculty by helping them to develop teaching techniques they can adapt to their needs in Afghanistan," said Kevin T. McNamara, assistant director of Purdue's International Programs in Agriculture and professor of agricultural economics. "They need to modernize the agricultural education they deliver to Afghan students and develop applied research programs as well as outreach programs for farmers and industry."

The State Department awarded Purdue the Herat partnership in October. Members of the State Department visited the Purdue campus during the week of Jan. 27 as part of preparation for the program. The first group from Herat, comprised of students, will arrive in July for three weeks of training. Faculty members will follow in the fall.

Areas of focus in the program are in developing faculty members so they can improve their curriculum and teaching, develop applied research skills, and learn how to use Web-based information to support education, outreach activities and research.

Partnership activities will help Herat University develop its curriculum and improve classroom instruction. Herat currently has a limited number of faculty available to teach in various academic areas because faculty members are abroad in Masters of Science and Ph.D. programs. In addition, many faculty have a bachelor's degree as their highest level of education.

To meet their teaching challenges, the program will have activities that include:

* Semester-long visiting faculty fellowships and intensive nine-week training fellowships at Purdue.

* A two-week Afghan student exchange program.

* Joint participation by Afghan and Purdue faculty in national professional meetings.

* Collaborative research between Purdue and Herat University faculty members.

* Training in how to use laboratory exercises to support undergraduate teaching and applied research activities.

Purdue's College of Agriculture has long been involved in helping war-ravaged Afghanistan rebuild its agricultural economy and educational systems. It has had a relationship with Herat University since 2004.

International Programs in Agriculture is managing a related Afghan education program, also sponsored by the State Department. Fourteen junior faculty members from Afghanistan are on campus for nine weeks of training in a variety of teaching areas, including medicine, physics, engineering and English literature. They will be at Purdue into March.

Other Purdue programs in Afghanistan include the Agricultural Data Collection and Utilization System Project, Afghanistan Agricultural Sanitary and Phytosanitary Project and the Afghanistan Agricultural Extension Project. 

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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