Core faculty members (left to right) Drs. Mohammed Darabie, Patricia Kubow, Bruce Collet and Bruce Edwards discuss plans for the International Comparative Education Center.

Core faculty members (left to right) Drs. Mohammed Darabie, Patricia Kubow, Bruce Collet and Bruce Edwards discuss plans for the International Comparative Education Center.

New Center for International Comparative Education is campus resource

Faculty and students campuswide who wish to add an international aspect to their research, curriculum or outreach efforts have a new resource in the International Comparative Education (ICE) Center. ICE faculty and students are also eager to offer support to area schools as they add a global dimension to their curricula.

The only one of its kind in the region, the interdisciplinary center was approved last May and formally began work in August. It brings together faculty with international expertise to share intercultural knowledge for the improvement of education and social conditions here and abroad through research, instructional enhancement and community engagement.

The center has received major funding from the Office of the President, the Graduate College and the Office of Student Affairs, plus support from the BGSU Foundation Inc. and interest from deans.

“We want to be a catalyst and a clearinghouse for global understanding, cultural awareness and educational outreach,” said founder and ICE Center Director Dr. Patty Kubow, School of Leadership and Policy Studies.

BGSU’s center is unusual even among its few peers. “What separates us from the other centers in the nation is that our focus is not on just one particular area of the world,” Kubow noted. Because of the sometimes unpredictable world situation, this diversity is a strength, she added. “Who can foresee changes in access and opportunities to travel? We don’t want to focus our efforts exclusively in one area.”

“Bowling Green is the only college in the nation whose higher education administration doctoral program requires a global perspective,” pointed out ICE Advisory Board member Dr. Kristie Foell, a German faculty member, director of the International Studies Program and co-director of the Global Village. She added that a recent survey of campus revealed a surprising number of internationally focused courses. “We also have 100 international-studies majors now,” she said.

With the wealth of experience, background and interests among the center’s core faculty, meetings have been fairly buzzing with possibilities, they report. “The discussions have been rich,” Kubow said. “We’re much stronger together, and we look forward to working with others.”

In the past four months, the center has already named its first student-scholar, submitted three grant applications and held a workshop for graduate students interested in obtaining external grants for international travel and research.

Diverse backgrounds, shared philosophy
The center’s core faculty have extensive connections here and abroad, with research backgrounds in Jamaica, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Jordan, Japan and India, among other countries. Several members have also been engaged with local schools and communities, another with indigenous people in the American Southwest and in Japan and one with indigenous people in a South African township community.

Center members include Drs. Sherlon Brown, intervention services; Bruce Collet, leadership and policy studies; Mohammed Darabie, teaching and learning; Bruce Edwards, English, Africana studies and associate dean in Continuing and Extended Education; L. Fleming Fallon, director of the Public and Allied Health Program; Christopher Frey, educational foundations and inquiry; Radhika Gajjala, interpersonal communication; Apollos Nwauwa, history and acting director of Africana studies, and Dr. Edward Whipple, vice president for student affairs.

“The discussions have been so lively,” Kubow said of their monthly meetings. “There’s such a synergy; it’s been a breath of fresh air.

“We share a commitment to developing countries,” she said. “We also share the philosophy of mutual reciprocity and the belief that people have knowledge based on their own life experience. It’s important to listen to them. It’s also important to be sensitive about the cultural perceptions of people in our own local culture.”

Group effort, outreach
It’s that shared energy that has enabled the group to accomplish so much in such a short time, she noted. The three grants they have applied for are a good indication of the range of interests. Two reflect the existence of northwest Ohio and southern Michigan’s large Arab population and involve projects both here and in the Middle East. “Arabs are part of the fabric of our community,” Kubow said. The third application is for a research study on teacher quality in Belize as it moves away from the British model. 

The team is eager to share its grant-getting expertise with other faculty and students who wish to add an international aspect to their research. “We have a ready-made network of experts who can help, and we are more than willing to provide follow-up support and service during the grant process,” Kubow said.

Student opportunities
The center has named its first student-scholar. Amy Warfield, a first-year student from Curtice in the Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural and International Education (MACIE) program, will conduct research for her thesis on teachers’ psychological sense of community and its impact on the learning environment in schools while completing a cross-cultural internship in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Every day is exciting, and I love what I’m doing. International issues have always been of interest to me, and I have a passion for education,” Warfield said. “ICE provides support for my thesis research and my internship for MACIE. It also allows me to take advantage of connections and talk with faculty members to get advice on conducting research. ICE goes hand in hand with MACIE, and I enjoy being part of two organizations that are growing and developing.”

Other graduate students are also able to benefit from involvement with the center. In addition to Warfield, Natsuko Tohyama, a master’s degree student in college student personnel, is completing a practicum with Kubow and helping to develop a student seminar in South Africa focused on social justice issues.

The center has selected Leilani Kupo, a doctoral student in higher education administration, as its graduate research assistant for the 2008-09 academic year. Kupo’s research interest is exploring indigenous knowledge from national and international perspectives.

The faculty foresee doctoral and master’s theses and honors projects coming out of student participation in ICE programs and ICE faculty support.

“A goal of the center is to be a repository for international education,” Warfield said. “I can see that in the future, students will use it as an excellent resource for grounding their research and putting it in an international context.”

February 18, 2008