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Global Perspectives - Autumn 2012 Newsletter

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

  1. Ohio State students see the world with new Global May programs
  2. William Brustein on global initiatives
  3. Mershon Center names Gelpi new chair of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution
  4. Polish Studies Initiative established within the Center for Slavic and East European Studies
  5. Gibbs uses OIA grant to research the “King of Northern Shaanxi Folksongs”
  6. International Student Profile: Maria Tan
  7. Study Abroad Profile: Tommy Gaston
  8. Study Abroad Profile: Elizabeth Moody
  9. International agreement allows Ohio State students to unearth the past in Italy
  10. Robert Agunga will lead Center for African Studies
  11. Seven students study at Wuhan University


Ohio State students see the world with new Global May programs

Ohio State students experiencing a Global Summer in IndiaWhile Ohio State’s recent semester conversion changed the student experience in a number of ways, perhaps no change is more exciting than the creation of the May session. This new term provides an excellent opportunity for studying abroad, and the Office of International Affairs will offer nearly 40 different May session study abroad programs this year. Seven of these programs will allow Ohio State’s newest students to know and engage the world like never before.

Brazil, Britain, China, Hungary, India, Mexico and Uganda—these countries are the focus of the new “Global May” programs offered by the Office of International Affairs. These programs are unique in that they are specifically intended for first and second year students of any major, allowing students to begin their global education early in their college careers. All programs are led by Ohio State faculty, feature instruction in English and, with the exception of the India Global Summer program, take place over May session. Each Global May program will allow students to explore the history, culture, current events and major issues of its titular country.

Pranav Jani, Ohio State professor of English, both helped create and served as resident director of the India Global Summer program. “I expected that the students would love many things about Indian culture – the clothes, the epic traditions, the food, the diversity – but also be challenged by how different India is from the U.S.,” he said. “The students, collectively, strove to meet that challenge. Crucial to this was a certain sincerity and light-heartedness, good faith and a spirit of camaraderie. Given this, many of the students said that their experience in India was transformative.”

One of these students, Lauren Tenney, agreed. “It has been sort of difficult to describe India to people who have asked me,” she said. “I tell them that it’s such an amazing country and they ask me why, and I find myself searching for the right words.” A sophomore in English, Tenney has been abroad before, but said that the program brought together all its participants, regardless of previous international experience. “We got the chance to become like a traveling family,” she explained.

When asked about the program’s focus on first and second year students, Jani said that they were “fantastic, regardless of their travel experience. They approached India in the right way: with an openness of mind, with curiosity, and with a healthy desire to be challenged by a different and unfamiliar place.” Tenney chose the program specifically to undertake that challenge: “Ohio State provided me with so many program options, and I ended up applying for the ones that would give me the newest experiences possible. We had the chance to experience a totally new culture.”

For more information on any of the Global May programs, or the other study abroad programs taking place over May session, visit the study abroad search engine at oia.osu.edu.

William Brustein on global initiatives

William BrusteinInternationalizing a university is not a goal achieved overnight, yet we have made much progress at Ohio State. We have seen our two-pronged strategy move forward with the opening of the China and India Gateways, the integration of international themes into some pilot courses within the Colleges of Public Health and Social Work and the Department of Geography, the development of new study abroad programs specifically geared toward first and second year students, and the expansion of collaborative partnerships by our faculty with their peers around the world.

One important aspect of our internationalization strategy that is central to our teaching, research and engagement mission is how our colleges actively engage in sharing their knowledge through capacity building projects across all borders. We are helping our international partners strengthen their educational offerings and we are working with them to address major global challenges.

A few examples:

  • The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences is partnering with Senegal’s Université Gaston Berger (UGB) to build up the West African nation’s agricultural research and outreach capabilities. Ohio State is training 17 faculty members on research and outreach activities based on the U.S. land-grant model. Ultimately, UGB will establish an experiment station and outreach network similar to the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and OSU Extension, respectively. Specifically, the Ohio State-UGB project calls for the creation of an agro-ecology program for sustainable food production, addressing the severe environmental degradation in the fragile African Sahel region and developing the emerging irrigated fruit and vegetable export industry in northern Senegal.
  • The College of Education and Human Ecology initiated the formation of the U.S./Indonesia Teacher Education Consortium (USINTEC), a group of 15 top-ranking state universities in the United States and Indonesia, which strives to improve Indonesian education, teacher preparation, and teacher quality. Since 2006, USINTEC has focused on helping Indonesia move toward meeting its teacher certification goals by certifying 2.7 million teachers in 10 years. 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.
  • Under Ohio State’s leadership, a consortium of six U.S. land grant universities are partnering to address the root causes of global hunger by sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and advancing global stability and prosperity. Objectives also include enhancing the training and research capabilities of Tanzania's National Agricultural Research System and Sokoine University of Agriculture - the chief institution of higher learning, research and outreach for the agricultural and food industry in this country.
  • To meet the urgent and growing need for world-class STEM faculty at higher education institutions in India, Ohio State in partnership with the Aligarh Muslim University has proposed a pilot project that would lay the groundwork for STEM Education and Research programs at Indian universities in collaboration with U.S. universities. The goal is to train the next generation of STEM faculty in India to meet the teaching and advanced research demands at the same level of world-class institutions.
  • The College of Veterinary Medicine partners with the University of Gondar (UoG) in Ethiopia to strengthen capacity in teaching, research, outreach and adjunct skills through approaches including distance learning via Polycom video-conferencing and web-based technologies. The specific aim of its proposal is to conduct a workshop and install a video-conferencing system at UOG to lay the groundwork for regular and scholarly collaboration between Ohio State and UOG in wide discipline areas. Additionally, through this partnership, Ohio State students and faculty will be exposed to globally important public health, agriculture, societal, business and other multi-disciplinary issues under tropical conditions, and will boost their practical knowledge and skills in preparation for their future careers.

These are just a sampling of the disciplines in which we are sharing our knowledge and working with other universities around the world so that they can learn new research methods, develop new technologies and enhance their teaching abilities. These collaborations will enable our partner institutions to develop capacity, eradicate the brain drain, raise the standard of living, create disposable incomes, improve food safety and security, strengthen the quality of healthcare and provide them with the opportunity to overcome whatever challenges might arise.

Internationalization is not just about finding the right business opportunity to support a university’s endeavors abroad, it is the ability to identify the right partner to collaborate on a project that is innovative and mutually beneficial to both. Ohio State is traveling the right global path.


Mershon Center names Gelpi new chair of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution

Mershon Director J. Craig Jenkins, Christopher Gelpi and Peace Studies Coordinator John CarlarneThe Mershon Center for International Security Studies has appointed a new chair of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. Christopher Gelpi has been named to the position and will begin his tenure in January 2013.

Gelpi is currently a professor of political science at Duke University, and previously served as an assistant professor of government and faculty associate at both the Center for International Affairs and the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. He also has previous experience with the Mershon Center, having presented a lecture on “Paying the Human Costs of War” in October 2011.

Gelpi is the author of The Power of Legitimacy: The Role of Norms in Crisis Bargaining and co-author of Choosing Your Battles: American Civil-Military Relations and the Use of Force and Paying the Human Costs of War: American Public Opinion and Casualties in Military Conflicts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University and a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan.


Polish Studies Initiative established within the Center for Slavic and East European Studies

Jessie Labov, faculty coordinator for the Polish Studies InitiativeOhio State’s Center for Slavic and East European Studies has established a Polish Studies Initiative, which will advance the interdisciplinary study of Poland, organize events focused on the country and support student and faculty research and study abroad. Operating under the center’s umbrella of services and resources, the initiative will be sponsored by globally-minded campus partners and international institutions.

The initiative will oversee the creation of courses on Polish culture; provide graduate students the opportunity to specialize in Polish language and culture; organize videoconferences with colleagues and collaborators in Poland; fund presentations on Polish topics at national and international conferences; and offer faculty research grants, student scholarships and language fellowships. Jessie Labov, an assistant professor in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, will serve as faculty coordinator.

“In addition to encouraging students of Polish heritage to learn more about contemporary Poland, and supporting and disseminating ongoing faculty research, we will show the campus community and the state of Ohio how Poland has reemerged on the world stage and warrants new interest and advanced knowledge,” said Labov. “By looking back a few centuries and forward into the next, the initiative aims to put Poland back on people's imaginary map of Europe."

A deeper understanding of the country is crucial to the university’s plans for internationalization. Poland is being considered as the site of a future Global Gateway, an endeavor in which the Polish Studies Initiative would be an invaluable asset. Polish is one of the two East European languages offered at the university at an advanced level, and a strong cohort of Ohio State faculty already hold a considerable research interest in Poland and the region. “The Polish Studies Initiative will build upon the research of Ohio State faculty—individual efforts that will be greatly leveraged by creating a coherence and dialogue between them,” said Labov.

The Center for Slavic and East European Studies has secured more than $40,000 in funding for the initiative for the first three years, and is confident that the initial successes of the initiative will lead to further advancement. Current co-sponsors for the Initiative include the Center for Slavic and East European Studies, the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures, the College of Social Work, Ohio State’s Center for International Business Education and Research, the Office of International Affairs, the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, the Department of Political Science, the Cross-National Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training Program and the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The Center for Slavic and East European Studies falls under the umbrella of programs and services of the Office of International Affairs and the College of the Arts and Sciences.


Gibbs uses OIA grant to research the “King of Northern Shaanxi Folksongs”

Wang Xiangrong and Levi GibbsFew people can say that a concert changed their lives with more sincerity than Levi Gibbs. After seeing Wang Xiangrong—“King of Northern Shaanxi Folksongs”— at a 1999 concert in Taiwan, Gibbs found himself seeking out Wang’s recordings and lyrics. “Over the years, my interest in his life and songs has guided the majority of my academic pursuits—taking folksong courses in Chinese conservatories during study abroad, interviewing retired Chinese folksong collectors, taking theory courses at Ohio State and writing my MA thesis on a subset of the songs he sings,” he said. Gibbs is now a PhD candidate in Chinese literature with a specialization in folklore, writing his dissertation on a now familiar subject.

Wang is a national bearer of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and has been singing and preserving the folksongs of northern Shaanxi for much of his life. Now 60, he continues to perform songs from his region and surrounding areas, as well as teach about the songs’ history and relation to local culture. Thanks to a grant from the Office of International Affairs, Gibbs was able to spend 10 months in China, accompanying Wang to concerts and analyzing and translating lyrics. Gibbs also conducted an extensive array of interviews, speaking to Wang, his students, relatives and colleagues, and other folksingers and scholars.

Gibbs even got to do a bit of singing himself. “Often, after singing, Wang would tell the audience that he’d brought an American friend who loved northern Shaanxi folksongs, and he would have me come up on stage and sing a song or two,” he recalled. “On one occasion, I sang the songs I had learned from him to a room filled with Wang’s 60-year-old classmates and their families. They saw their fellow townsman return home after bringing their songs to national and international stages. I saw many smiles and people beaming with pride.” Gibbs is interested in how these songs serve as a representation of regional identity, and said he would never have been able to understand the personal and social impact of these songs if he had not seen them performed firsthand in China.

Gibbs, who dreamed of being able to interview and study with Wang, found the opportunity to research abroad truly invaluable. “For my master’s thesis, I didn’t get to do any fieldwork, and while it was interesting and I was able to apply different theories to the folksong lyrics I was translating into English, I ended up with more questions than when I started.” Gibbs found that being able to discuss song lyrics with Wang uncovered new layers of meaning and a greater understanding of the traditions and history these songs represent. “Every time I went in thinking I knew what something meant, after five minutes Wang would have opened my eyes to something new,” he said. “For me, this is one of the great values of study abroad—pushing you beyond what you think you know, and helping you grow.”


International Student Profile: Maria Tan

Maria TanName: Maria Tan

Home country and city:
My home country is Indonesia, and though my home is actually in Pemalang, I grew up in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia (I went to a boarding school there since I was 11).

Year: Third year

Why did you choose Ohio State?
I've always wanted to be enrolled in a really big university in terms of its number of student population and also its physical space. Being in a big university like Ohio State provides me a vast opportunity to meet new people, gain new experiences, and also be involved in many student organizations on campus. I couldn't choose a more perfect school for me other than The Ohio State University.

What is your major? Strategic Communication and Consumer Science

How long have you been in the United States/Columbus?
By September 5, 2012, it's exactly two years.

What most surprised you about your experience in Columbus and the United States?
I came to the United States with a mindset that I wanted to get my undergraduate degree as soon as possible, and get it over with. Looking back, I am still surprised how my experience being a student at Ohio State and also being in a sorority (Kappa Phi Lambda) have changed that. Now I don't want to graduate early. I really love it here. I'd take one or two more majors if that could make me stay here longer!

What has been the hardest thing to adapt to since you've come to Columbus?
Indonesia is tropical all year round, and I live by the beach. So for me the winter in Columbus is really harsh and has still been the hardest thing to adapt.

What have you done to keep yourself busy (outside of class)?
I like to hang out and spend quality time with my friends, or go to random events on campus and make new friends there.

What is the most fun/exciting thing you've done since you arrived at Ohio State?
Joining Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc.

What are your career plans after college?
After I graduate, I want to get a job somewhere else other than Indonesia for sure. I love exploring a new city/country! Getting a job somewhere in South Africa or Senegal would be fun.

How has the Office of International Affairs helped you adapt to campus life?
The Office of International Affairs has helped me to be informed of resources available on campus that are particularly fitted to the needs and interests of international students like me. They ensure all international students would have a smooth transition to life at The Ohio State University.


Study Abroad Profile: Tommy Gaston

Tommy Gaston, right“My study abroad experience is one thing that I can not fully explain, it something that one has to experience for his or herself. This trip changed my life all together. During the trip I was able to connect with people of totally different ethnic group personally, able to see how they live, survive and most importantly communicate. I found how important it was to learn a new language and to see with my own eyes how people adapt to their own living conditions.

“The one thing that made my study abroad experience memorable is the new friends and connections that I have made in China. I now know that in China there is a second home that I can go to. The respect and kindness of the people that I have met in China is one thing that I know is hard to come by in America.

“It was important for me to take this trip because I had to see what was outside of the U.S. Now that I have seen one place, I want to see others. This trip gave me a boost of determination to see me more places and experience the lives and cultures of other ethnic groups that are not in the United States of America.”

Tommy is a sophomore majoring in International Studies – Security and Intelligence.



Study Abroad Profile: Elizabeth Moody

Elizabeth Moody"I had a fantastic experience studying Russian at Moscow International University through American Councils' Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies program during the summer of 2012. Dedicated teachers, unique experiences, and a great group of peers enhanced my time in Moscow and I learned a tremendous amount.

“Every component contributed to making this experience a great one. Classes were small, which allowed teachers to converse with us instead of lecture at us. Group excursions enabled me to see and learn things I might not have been able to on my own. Living in Moscow is an incomparable experience—it's gritty, sometimes confusing, often frustrating, but also beautiful, majestic, and wrapped in layers of mystery. And though people on the street may seem cold, all Russians whom I've made the acquaintance of have been warm, generous, helpful, and genuinely interested in why I was there.

“As a student of International Studies, I aim to know and understand the world. You can't achieve this by staying in Columbus.”

Elizabeth is a senior majoring in Russian language and International Studies – Security and Intelligence.


International agreement allows Ohio State students to unearth the past in Italy

Ohio State students exploring the Badia Pozzeveri siteOhio State has entered into agreements with institutions in Italy for collaboration in fields ranging from medicine and engineering to business and education. The agreement with the University of Pisa features a unique focus – archaeology and bioarchaeology – and allows Ohio State students to study and research abroad in a truly remarkable classroom.

As part the university’s agreement with the University of Pisa, Ohio State students have the opportunity to study at the Field School in Medieval Archaeology and Bioarchaeology at Badia Pozzeveri. Located in Lucca, Italy, the field school features an immersive academic program designed to train students in archaeological and bioarcheological field and laboratory methods. Badia Pozzeveri is the site of a monastery that was situated along the Via Francigena, a major trade and pilgrimage route running from France to Rome. The excavation of the site began in 2011, and Ohio State undergraduate and graduate students have been there from the start.

The site’s location along the Via Francigena will allow students to literally unearth insights about pilgrimage dynamics and medieval trade, as well as the intricacies of monastic life. According to the field school, “the only visible portion of the abbey is the church, while the remains of the monastery—chapter house, scriptorium, cloister, cell, kitchens, dining hall—are buried in the [surrounding] soil,” providing students with a great deal of ground to cover.

Not only do students get the chance to excavate what remains of this medieval abbey, they have the rare opportunity to uncover the monastery’s cemetery, studying who was buried there and how, and placing these funerary practices in cultural and historical context. “This means we will be able to conduct research with experts in local archaeology from the initial excavation phases to the complete analysis of human skeletal remains, benefitting from extremely detailed information on the archaeological context,” said Giuseppe Vercellotti, an instructor for the program and an archaeologist from Ohio State. “I see this collaboration as an incredible opportunity for producing high-level bioarchaeological research on a region of the world that, in spite of its historical importance, is extremely underrepresented in the literature.”

In July 2012, 30 archaeologists, students and faculty from around the world worked at Badia Pozzeveri. The field school program allows students to benefit not only from this experiential learning, but from the knowledge of their fellow excavators as well. “Through hands-on participation in the excavation, our students have the rare opportunity to learn all aspects of a bioarchaeological project by working side-by-side with international experts in the discipline,” said Vercellotti. “On a more personal level, the participation in the field school allows our students to experience life in a different country and to create long-lasting relationships with colleagues from other countries.”

This opportunity may be a once-in-a lifetime chance for those who travel to Lucca, but many Ohio State undergraduate and graduate students will have that chance. According to Vercellotti, the university’s agreement with the University of Pisa will “allow us to offer a field school in Italy for years to come.”


Robert Agunga will lead Center for African Studies

Robert AgungaRobert Agunga has been appointed director of the Center for African Studies and will work to support and expand Ohio State’s African studies curriculum, increase interaction with Africanist faculty, provide international educational opportunities and deepen understanding of African issues across campus and Columbus. The Center for African Studies falls under the umbrella of programs and services of the Office of International Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Currently, Agunga is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education and Leadership within the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, with joint appointments in the Department of African American and African Studies and the School of Communication. His research interests include the design, implementation and evaluation of health and agricultural communication campaigns, and the role of communications in promoting social and economic change in developing countries. Prior to his time at Ohio State, he was a research and teaching associate in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa, as well as a research associate in that institution’s Department of Linguistics.

During his time at Ohio State, he has been named a Fulbright Teaching Scholar and traveled to Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi. He has also served as a resident director for study abroad in Swaziland, as well as a member of university delegations to Ghana and Malawi. He is an external evaluator for graduate programs at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, the Caribbean Institute of Mass Communication, the University of the West Indies and the University of Agriculture at Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Agunga earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication, all from the University of Iowa.


Seven students study at Wuhan University

Seven graduate students in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program study in China in Summer 2012Seven EHE master’s students traveled to Wuhan University this past summer, blazing the trail for moving the college’s international internship in Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) from England to China.

The renowned program is recognized as the only international research internship offered as part of a U.S. graduate HESA program. HESA students in EHE prepare for leadership as administrators, faculty and policy makers in post-secondary education and diverse cultural contexts.

Tatiana Suspitsyna, associate professor of HESA, is leading the change with an international seed grant funded by donors to the Dean’s Discretionary Fund.

“With the rising prominence of Asia as a source of international students for American universities, more current and prospective HESA students have expressed interest in experiential learning opportunities in that region,” she said.

The seven students conducted independent studies during their three-week stay at Wuhan. Suspitsyna said their projects will show what research opportunities will work well for future students.

“Students will benefit from the internship by acquiring hands-on professional expertise in international higher education,” Suspitsyna explained. “They will enhance their global competency and gain a competitive advantage in the job market upon graduation.”

To read about the personal experiences of the Wuhan Seven, please visit the Education and Human Ecology news page.

Global Perspectives is published semesterly by the Office of International Affairs. If you would like to receive this newsletter via e-mail, please contact Maureen Miller, Director of Communications, at oia@osu.edu.