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Global Perspectives - Summer 2010 Newsletter

In this issue of Global Perspectives, you will find the following stories.

  1. Global Strategies - A Q&A with William Brustein
  2. Engineering students provide potable water to Honduran children
  3. Wolfe scholarship students recognized at luncheon
  4. Fulbright scholar recipient Brent Sohngen
  5. Students learning across the globe
  6. Indonesia launches massive initiative to certify teachers
  7. Engineering alumna empowers Ugandan women through a business venture
  8. Ohio State students and faculty investigate prehistoric farming societies in Hungary

Global Strategies - A Q&A with William Brustein

President E. Gordon Gee, William Brustein and a group of Ohio State officials will visit Shanghai, Qingdao, Beijing and Nanjing, China  from June 25 – July 7 as part of Ohio State’s global outreach strategy. The delegation also includes, Kate Wolford (Office of the President), Greg Washington (College of Engineering), Bobby Moser (College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences) Peter Weiler (Office of Development) and Kathy Chase (Office of Development).

What is the purpose of the Ohio State delegation’s visit to China?
Now that we have our China Gateway office open, President Gee’s visit to China will help us enhance our existing partnerships and move us in a positive direction for new collaborations with Chinese universities. We will be formalizing several agreements while in China that will support collaborative research in food safety, research in the area of age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, solidify study abroad programs, and create a dual degree in electrical and computer engineering.William Brustein

In addition to meeting with alumni, students and university officials, President Gee will be presenting a speech at the Shanghai Expo 2010 as part of the AmCham Shanghai Distinguished Speaker Series. In his speech titled, “Universities as Drivers of 21st Century Innovation for Business,” President Gee will not only discuss the benefits of partnerships with higher education institutions, but also will showcase ways in which universities can partner with businesses to help augment economic growth and global economic competitiveness.

What other outreach opportunities will take place in China?
We will be visiting Qingdao, home of Ohio State’s Chinese Flagship Program. During our stay we will meet with local government officials, the community at large and the 32 students enrolled in the Flagship program, which is an advanced Chinese language program that is internationally recognized. Several alumni, friends and families gatherings are planned as well as a meeting with Ohio State’s oldest alumni from China, Professor Zheng Ji, who is 110 years old. He graduated from Ohio State in 1931 with a master’s in bio chemistry and is professor emeritus at Nanjing University.

We are also planning a welcome event in Shanghai for Chinese students enrolled for autumn quarter and their families to meet with President Gee, Dean Washington and some current students who are at home this summer in China. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to recruiting international students, who richly contribute to the diverse and multi-cultural campus at Ohio State.

What’s next for the Gateways?
We are making progress with the India Gateway. When I visited India last March, I met with some of our alumni in New Delhi and visited several potential sites in the area for our future Gateway location. The faculty advisory committee is exploring options for potential executive training programs, and reviewing an outline for a business plan. It is my hope that we could open an exploratory Gateway office in New Delhi in 2011.

With our China Gateway, we continue to move forward building relationships in Shanghai, not only with the academic community, but with local government officials, Ohio-based businesses in China, and our alumni. There has been a lot of progress since last year and Ohio State can now be counted among American universities with a physical presence in another country and a plan to integrate international opportunities into every facet of our institution.

Engineering students provide potable water for Honduran children

Working to provide potable waterChildren who are HIV/AIDS positive already live in compromised health situations, so when a group of engineering students learned that the arsenic levels had begun to rise at an orphanage in Montaña de Luz, Honduras, they were determined to make the water safe once again.

“Water quality has always been a topic of discussion and a focus of concern,” said John Merrill, a professor of engineering who has led a group of students on a study abroad program to Montaña de Luz every year since 2005. “We have worked on this particular roject over a number of years, but there seems to be a gap in maintenance.”

The service learning program enables students to engage in a project to assist children living with HIV/AIDS in the orphanage, as well as spend some time with them playing soccer or working on a science activity. During their coursework at Ohio State, students identify and analyze the impact of sustainable technology on a developing country and devise practical and sustainable solutions that students apply during their week-long stay in Honduras. Students are challenged to think, live and work in a new way and explore how the Hondurans’ lives differ from their own.

The initial idea for the trip originated with Engineers for Community Service, an Ohio State student organization which promotes life-long professionalism through service. Over the years, students have helped the children and staff at the orphanage in many ways including: installing a computer lab, teaching children about computers, establishing a library, fixing electrical problems, improving water quality, conducting energy audits and completing a variety of manual labor projects.

Most recently, students helped improve the water quality for these children by lowering the levels of arsenic in the water. According to World Health Standards the amount of arsenic levels in water must be less than 10 parts per billion. The water at the orphanage was measuring 50 parts per billion.

By conducting tests, purchasing appropriate filtration devices, and educating those individuals who care for the children on how to maintain potable water, the students achieved success in reducing the arsenic levels in the water to adhere to world health standards.

“The filtration system was already in place so we bought filter cartridges and conducted a number of arsenic tests,” said Peter Dobler, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering. “We were keeping our fingers crossed. We left detailed instructions in the kitchen in both English and Spanish on how to replace the filters and when to replace them. We wanted to make sure they understood what to do.”

Dobler said the project was gratifying. “I felt like what I was learning in the classroom could really make a difference in the lives of others.”

Wolfe study abroad scholarship students recognized at luncheon

Wolfe Study Abroad Scholarship RecipientsOn Monday, May 17, The Office of International Affairs hosted a luncheon at the Faculty Club recognizing the 2009-2010 recipients of the Wolfe Study Abroad Scholarship. The 11th annual Wolfe Study Abroad Recognition Luncheon honored 32 students, who were congratulated by Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee and other university leaders, past scholarship recipients, and John F. Wolfe, chairman and CEO of The Dispatch Printing Company. Recipients were each awarded a $2,500 scholarship to help fund their individual long-term study abroad programs.

Established in 1999, the Wolfe Study Abroad Scholarships Endowed Fund began with a $1 million gift from the Robert F. Wolfe and Edgar T. Wolfe Foundation. Over the last 10 years, scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each have been distributed annually to more than 200 undergraduate students. The Wolfe Scholarship is the cornerstone of Ohio State’s study abroad programs and helps to enhance the educational experience of Ohio State students.

“The global challenges of today – whether economic, technological, political or environmental – demand that we all be globally competent citizens,” said William I. Brustein, Vice Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs. “Education abroad is a great route to creating responsible global citizens who have the ability to work cooperatively in seeking and implementing solutions to challenges of global significance.”

This year’s recipients will travel as far as Morocco, Brazil and China, studying subjects ranging from animal science to theatre to Chinese language. The programs in which they will participate will supplement their academic course of study and prepare these students to become globally competent citizens.

For the tenth anniversary, in 2009, John F. Wolfe presented another $1 million gift to the university, which doubled the endowment that supports the scholarships. As a result, this year, the award amount increased to $2,500. The financial support of these scholarships has changed the lives of a growing number of students who have had the opportunity to participate in long-term study abroad programs.

Fulbright Scholar recipient Brent Sohngen

Brent Sohngen, a Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, has been selected as a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright fellowship. Recipients are selected by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, which administers the program for the U.S. Department of State. The Office of International Affairs serves as the campus representative for the Fulbright Scholars program.

Brent SohngenThe impact of climate change on forests and the implications it may bring to the United States will be the focus of Brent Sohngen’s research when he travels to Edmonton, Alberta as a Fulbright Scholar next year.

Recently awarded the prestigious research grant, Sohngen is a professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and he has studied climate change impacts in forested ecosystems for over 15 years.

“Climate change may alter the distribution and productivity of the world’s forests and have enormous impacts on human welfare,” Sohngen explained. “It is important to consider these potential impacts in order to begin developing strategies to adapt.

Forested ecosystems – the world’s largest land use – encompass over 3.4 billion hectares of land, with over 600 million hectares in North America. In many regions they are heavily managed for timber resources, and they face competition from alternative uses such as agriculture.

During his four- month stay from March 2011– July 2011, he will be affiliated with the University of Alberta. In addition to his research, Sohngen will be lecturing to students and faculty in the field.” In addition to his research, Sohngen will give several lectures to students and faculty at the university.

His research project titled, “Climate, Carbon Sequestration, and the Competitiveness of the Canadian Forest Sector in a Global Economy,” will examine the impact of climate change on forests globally and trace those impacts through to markets and land use. In particular, his analysis will examine how climate change may affect forests and land use in Canada.

Sohngen’s research is important because one hypothesis about climate change is that productivity in the world’s ecosystems will move northward as climate changes, and regions like Canada may gain economically. Such shifts in productivity have important implications for regions like the United States. He will work with colleagues both in economics and ecology to assess these issues.

“Even though our forest productivity may not change dramatically with climate change, forest management in the U.S. may become less competitive due to improving conditions elsewhere,” he explained.

Sohngen said the Fulbright program provides a great opportunity to assist researchers in funding visits, and he believed his research idea seemed a perfect match. “This award will give me an opportunity to expand my research program in several new ways and to enhance collaborations with new colleagues at the University of Alberta.”

Brent Sohngen earned his PhD in environmental economics from Yale University and has been at Ohio State since 1996.

Students learning across the globe

Bethany StammenBethany Stammen

"I participated in the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences Animal Production study abroad in Australia. Our program focused on animal production systems and animal welfare concerns in Australia. The most memorable part was going out into the country and experiencing the Australian farms first hand and learning about cutting edge animal welfare research. I am planning on becoming a food animal veterinarian, so the opportunity to talk to the farmers of Australia was amazing. They raise animals in such a different environment and in such a different way from Ohio that I learned a great deal. Australian agriculture has found solutions to problems that United States agriculture is now facing or may potential face, so this study abroad was an amazing opportunity to learn.

"My study abroad experience brought to my attention what I do not yet know, have not yet seen, and have yet to experience. An understanding of how much we do not understand and have yet to learn is an important quality in any person. It keeps the mind active and searching for that next life changing opportunity. I believe that an international experience provides just that breath of rejuvenation."

Bethany is a senior majoring in animal science.

Curtis GutterCurtis Gutter

"I traveled to Mexico City for one quarter where I took courses related to finance and operations in Spanish and English. The most memorable aspect of it is the personal connections I was able to make with my classmates and housemates. Understanding other parts of our world and being multiculturally literate is going to be the expectation in the future, and not the exception. There are countless opportunities to develop relationships with other parts of the globe. I have been very lucky to have had the chance to work, study, and live in four different countries on three different continents, and I am grateful for the opportunity to see so much of our world already."

Curtis is an MBA student in operations & logistics.

Indonesia launches massive initiative to certify teachers

Indonesian educators studied at Ohio StateIndonesia has plans to certify 2.7 million teachers in the next 10 years.

The country’s bold legislative move represents the first effort to create a system of teacher certification since formation of the country's university system in 1945 after independence from the Dutch.

This formidable task demands not only developing new programs to certify current and future teachers, but also upgrading the educational levels and knowledge of university lecturers who prepare them, said Dr. Sue Dechow, program director for the School of Teaching and Learning. She has spent 23 years representing Ohio State to teacher educators at Indonesian universities, more than any other U.S. university.

In 2006, Dechow initiated development of the U.S./Indonesia Teacher Education Consortium (USINTEC), a bi-national higher education consortium. The presidents of 12 Indonesian universities, Ohio State, Indiana University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, plus a Southeast Asia regional center signed a memorandum of agreement to collaborate. The consortium, with Dechow as the American executive director, strives to enhance teacher preparation and teacher quality in Indonesia.

Since 2006, USINTEC has focused on helping Indonesia move toward meeting its teacher certification goals. An essential component of the initiative is bringing Indonesian educators to Ohio State to improve the quality of their work through access to the vast resources of a high-level research university. Funding is provided through individual scholarships from Indonesia's Ministry of National Education.

In addition, USINTEC partner institutions are developing an international dual master's degree program. Indonesian students will earn both U.S. and Indonesian degrees. The program will enable U.S. and Indonesian faculty and students to teach and study in both countries, promoting true global exchange.

Professor Mukhaiyar*, director of graduate programs at the State University of Padang in Indonesia, visited Ohio State in October 2009 to discuss program plans with Dechow. "By developing our teacher educators, we expect to see a beneficial impact on the process of teaching in our schools," he said. "Our mindset is changed about how teachers develop their programs. We must move from conventional to modern ways of thinking."

The current initiative brought 77 Indonesian educators to Ohio State for study from October 2009 to February 2010. Forty-seven of the educators are working on doctoral dissertations. The other 30 are postdoctoral scholars working on books or articles.

Helen Marks, associate professor for the School of Educational Policy and Leadership, served as advisor to visiting doctoral scholars and was impressed with their work. "Indonesia represents a modern, democratic society that holds Islamic beliefs," she said. "I find the Indonesian educators are very contemporary in their views. As a faculty member, my world is bigger because I've learned from them about another system of education in our global society. It's a mutually beneficial experience."

* Mukhaiyar has only one name as is the practice of some Indonesians.

Engineering alumna empowers Ugandan women through a business venture

Ugandan women are empowered by designing handbagsWhen Halle Butvin visited Uganda with a youth organization in 2006, she was prepared to see a nation scarred by a history of conflict and poverty. What she didn’t anticipate was finding what has become, at least for now, her life’s calling.

The women she met in districts like Gulu had skills but no jobs. Their children did not attend school. Their families could not afford to buy or build their own homes.

The experience planted in the city and regional planning alumna a seed of desire to help not only on an individual level but on a social and economic scale.

Three years later, that seed has grown into One Mango Tree, a social business Butvin launched to empower Ugandan women in a business venture to design, sew and sell handbags, yoga supplies, home items and jewelry. To meet One Mango Tree’s two missions, profit and social impact, 100 percent of earnings are reinvested in the company or other like-minded social ventures to improve the lives of the employees and the community as a whole.

One Mango Tree head trainer Lucy Auma, for instance, cares for 13 children — two of her own and 11 orphans — as well as her parents. Now that Auma has an income, she is healthier thanks to a more diversified diet, and, like all other One Mango Tree employees, she has a savings account of 15 percent of her earnings.

“When I met her,” Butvin says, “none of the kids were in school. Now every single one is in school. She’s added three huts on her property, started building a brick home and bought a plot of land for herself.”

Butvin now lives in Uganda and is CEO of One Mango Tree, which has grown from four employees to 35. A business manager in Florida handles Internet sales. A company in Seattle buys the merchandise wholesale and then distributes it to retail outlets in the United States. The employees even expanded into a rented 500-square-foot factory building after getting their start in one tiny stall in a market. And recently they began producing their own fabrics in a workshop in Kampala.

Still, Butvin knows she faces many more obstacles. Just one: The company factory does not have a source of reliable electricity; she’s working with Blaine Lilly, associate professor of integrated systems engineering and mechanical engineering, to research ways to use solar power. As if running her own company on a foreign continent isn’t enough work, Butvin also does new business development consulting to make additional income until One Mango Tree is profitable — a goal she expects to reach this year.

Butvin even thrives on challenge when she’s on vacation: Last year she used her earnings from a consulting job to take a break — climbing Kilimanjaro.

Her business goal is to keep growing One Mango Tree, perhaps expanding it or starting a similar operation in another country.
“I want to give opportunities to young people to come to Uganda and do product design and understand how to do work in another country,” Butvin says. “I would love to get One Mango Tree profitable enough that I could take the profits and invest in other young people that are doing incredible things to give them the opportunity to see through their dream of making changes through business.”

  • Follow Halle Butvin’s efforts in Uganda on the One Mango Tree website, onemangotree.com

Ohio State students and faculty investigate prehistoric farming societies in Hungary

Luthern, Olson, Lipphardt, and Krichbaum in HungaryFour Ohio State undergraduate students participated in the spring 2010 field season of the Körös Regional Archaeological Projectin Vésztő, Hungary from March 16 to April 10. Megan Luthern, Kyle Olson, Jackie Lipphardt, and Brittany Krichbaum joined Ohio State anthropology professor Richard Yerkes, William Parkinson of the Field Museum in Chicago and Attila Gyucha of Örökségvédelmi Szakszolgálat in Szeged, Hungary, and an international multidisciplinary team to study the natural and cultural processes that led to the establishment of large farming villages and tells on the Great Hungarian Plain 6,000-7,000 years ago. The fieldwork focused on the Szeghalom-Kovácshalom tell, a flat-topped mound built up over several centuries by Neolithic farmers who razed and rebuilt wattle-and-daub houses in their village.

“We stayed in a hostel in a tiny town called Vésztő, which was near the Romanian border. Almost every day we got up around 6 a.m. and worked in the field until 2 p.m.,” describes Luthern, a sophomore majoring in anthropological sciences. “We collected artifacts on the surface — such as pieces of pottery, stone flakes, or burned chunks of mud structures — took soil samples, and assisted with remote sensing using a magnetometer. After working in the field, we went back to our lab and sorted the artifacts we found that day. It was hard work, but I learned a lot and had a blast!”

In front of St. Stephen's Basilica in BudapestThe 2010 fieldwork at the Szeghalom-Kovácshalom included Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology to lay 10x10-meter grids over the tell and nearby “flat” sites. All of the artifacts and animal bones on the surface of the agricultural field were collected. A geophysical survey was conducted using a magnetometer which records subtle changes in the magnetic properties of the soil that are related to human activities, such as building houses, kilns, and ovens, and digging ditches and pits. Soil cores were taken to collect samples for chemical analysis that may identify areas where animals were kept or trash was dumped.

“My Körös experience was more rewarding than I ever thought it would be,” says Krichbaum, a senior anthropology major. “I was very nervous to go at first because I didn't know what to expect. Once I got settled in, I began to be more comfortable with my surroundings and the wonderful people who were there with me. I gained a clear understanding of what archaeology is like in the field, rather than a classroom.”

For Luthern the international experience was similarly eye opening. “Before participating in this study abroad experience, I wasn't completely sure that I was cut out for working as an archaeologist, ankle-deep in mud and covered with dirt. Happily, I was proven wrong. Now I can't see myself doing anything but archaeology, and I am very thankful for and will remember every person who helped me to see that I belong in the dirt, digging up the past.”

Megan Luthern in Budapest, HungaryOver the last decade, Drs. Yerkes, Parkinson, and Gyucha surveyed and excavated several Copper Age (4,500 to 3,000 B.C.) farming villages and examined social changes that gave rise to more complex, ranked societies during the Bronze Age (3,000 to 1,000 B.C.). In 2011 and 2012, older excavation trenches at Szeghalom-Kovácshalom and the larger tell at Vésztő-Mágor will be cleaned and mapped.

“The spring 2010 field season marked the beginning of a new phase of our research centered on two tells established during the Middle Neolithic Period (5,300 B.C.),” explains Yerkes. “Both tells have smaller farming villages scattered around them. The goal is to better understand the origins of tells - how and why people left their small farming villages to build larger fortified settlements. Understanding the formation of these tells helps reveal how farming societies became more complex, and how villages grew into cities in southeastern Europe.”

The international experience was made possible by funding from the National Science Foundation and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.