Bowles opens ECU global education conference
(May 19, 2008)
Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina system, welcomed 18 international visitors and educators to East Carolina University May 19 during the opening of a four-day conference on global education.
Bowles offered opening remarks to the first-ever Global Partners in Education conference, May 19 through May 22, setting the tone for discussions about the importance of international education and strategies leaders can take to foster more opportunities.
“(This type of collaborative program), I believe, is absolutely critical to the future, not just of this university, but also our entire state,” Bowles said.
Bowles added that he has talked with business leaders across the state who say they need their employees to have “critical thinking, analytical thinking and communication skills. But the most important is the ability to work in team with people with different backgrounds and beliefs.”
“I came to ECU and saw this as an example of how we could do that,” Bowles said. And as the collaboration between ECU and its international partners continues, it will “produce young people ready to work in the global economy.”
The conference, part of ECU’s Global Academic initiatives program – which has fostered connections to dozens of nations with its Global Understanding programs since 2003, is being led by Rosina Chia, assistant vice chancellor for global academic initiatives, and Elmer Poe, associate vice chancellor for academic outreach.
“The formation of the Global Partners in Education represents the coming together of professors and administrators from around the world to enhance the international experience of their students through direct collaboration,” Poe said. “The partners will move these experiences to the next level of excellence.”
The purpose of the conference is formally to establish the Global Partners in Education. The conference will result in goals for improvement and growth of the programs in the coming years. Groups will begin working on those goals this week, said Chia.
One of the conference participants is Alla Nazarenko, representing Moscow State University in Russia. During her introduction, Nazarenko said, “(This program) connects us beyond borders and gives us the chance to understand other cultures and people. And I’m sure it will serve for a better world.”
To date, more than 600 ECU students have “met” their academic counterparts in countries that include The Gambia, Turkey, Venezuela and China. In the past five years, the Internet-based course has expanded to 21 partners in 18 countries, using Web technology to provide a relatively inexpensive way for students – and faculty members – to go global through shared courses, lectures, and research projects. The Global Understanding program complements ECU’s student study abroad programs.
The leaders and administrators of these partner programs – from Malaysia, Peru, Algeria and India, to name a few – will spend four days discussing strategies to improve and expand international courses to students, both in the United States and around the world.
“Our partner universities are committed to the program are excited to visit ECU for this first meeting,” Chia said. “Planning has begun for the 2009 meeting in Beijing and the 2010 meeting in Lima.”
In March, ECU’s Global Academic Initiatives project received honorable mention in the 2008 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education.