UB’s Global Partner Studio expands international experiential learning

Sister Janepha of the Immaculate Heart of Sisters of Africa (foreground, right) leads Mara Huber (foreground left) and students from last summer's study abroad offering in Tanzania on a tour of Baraki Sisters Farm.

Sister Janepha of the Immaculate Heart of Sisters of Africa (foreground, right) leads Mara Huber (foreground left) and students from last summer's study abroad offering in Tanzania on a tour of Baraki Sisters Farm. The farm includes a health center, primary school and the Kitenga School for Girls. Photo: Douglas Levere

Release Date: October 1, 2018

“Although UB faculty and select students get to travel to these countries, we are opening up engagement opportunities by bringing our partners to UB. By learning about their respective countries and the work that is already happening through their partnerships, we can catalyze new ideas for engagement, collaboration and student learning.”
Mara Huber, associate dean for undergraduate research and experiential learning
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – When Mara B. Huber, associate dean for undergraduate research and experiential learning at the University at Buffalo, took on the task of designing an office to serve as a hub for credit-based experiential learning at UB, she knew she wanted a model that was collaborative and catalytic.

She wanted a model that tapped into the connections and talents of UB faculty, encouraging them to think big and travel far.

Huber launched the Experiential Learning Network in fall 2017 with programmatic opportunities and support, and an evolving framework for collaboration and innovation. Now, as the ELN begins its second year of bringing together students and faculty for high-impact experiential learning opportunities, it will unveil its most comprehensive and global initiative to date: the Global Partner Studio.

The Global Partner Studio is an innovative platform for cultivating and leveraging high-impact experiential learning opportunities. By transforming partnerships into catalysts for pedagogical innovation, Huber, director of ELN, hopes to lead UB in a bold new direction for global collaboration. The GPS’ signature event, the Global Partner Studio Institute, is set to take place Oct. 1-5 at different sites on the North Campus.

The inaugural institute will bring partners from Ghana, Jamaica, Tanzania and Zimbabwe together with interested faculty, students and community members to learn about and work toward developing new ideas for courses, collaborative research, projects and travel-based learning.

Huber hopes the community will take advantage of this unique opportunity.

“Although UB faculty and select students get to travel to these countries,” Huber says, “we are opening up engagement opportunities by bringing our partners to UB. By learning about their respective countries and the work that is already happening through their partnerships, we can catalyze new ideas for engagement, collaboration and student learning.”

The institute will open with partner presentations at 3 p.m. Oct. 1 in 145 Student Union, with a reception to follow. After learning about the partner countries and priorities for collaboration, participants will be invited to attend studio sessions throughout the week and submit ideas for new projects and collaborations. A complete schedule and event registration is available on the ELN website.

While all ideas are welcome, Huber and the Experiential Learning Network team will focus on several specific types of learning that will be showcased in a “Pedagogical Innovation” session to be held from 9-11 a.m. Oct 2 in the Center for Educational Innovation’s (CEI) new Faculty Collaboration Studio in 6 Norton Hall.

These include COIL (collaborative online international learning), virtual reality (VR), UB’s new Global Partner Studio open-source digital journal, Global Collaboration digital badge, project-based learning and customized short-term study abroad programs.

Participants will also learn how to integrate these experiences within ePortfolios, an exciting component of UB’s new integrative curriculum.

Huber explains these innovative platforms can deepen and extend student learning, while at the same time driving lasting impacts for the communities and regions touched by UB students and faculty.

For example, recent UB Honors Program alum Danielle Nerber transformed a short-term study abroad experience in Tanzania into a social innovation project that is changing the lives of women and girls in the rural countryside while also shaping her own future career as a global health physician.

What began as a final project exploring the relationship between girls’ menstrual maintenance and educational attainment in rural sub-Saharan Africa led to a successful GoFundMe campaign that supported the training of a UB partner organization in the Mara region of Tanzania to produce reusable sanitary pads, engaging women through various sewing and empowerment groups.

In addition to generating much needed income, the project is spawning new spinoffs and has been embraced by national, municipal and faith-based leaders committed to improving the lives of women and girls, especially in challenged regions such as the Mara region.

“This type of high-impact engagement is only possible through deep and sustained relationships,” says Huber.

She should know. Since 2009, she has been taking groups of students, faculty and community members to visit the Mara region.

Huber is joined by her Empire State College colleague, Dan Nyaronga, who happens to be from the very region and town Huber focuses on. They share the story of their collaboration and the stories of the students and partners who have been impacted in their newly released memoir, “On Tanzania Time: 10 Years of Friendship, Engagement and Discovery in the Mara Region.”

Tanzania will be one of the featured projects at the inaugural institute. Gerald Noah, who teaches law and human rights at the Buhare Community Development Training Institute in Tanzania, will attend the institute and is the liaison for UB collaboration. He also serves as liaison for Nerber’s reusable sanitary pad project, as well as other collaborations engaging UB students and faculty with organizations in this rural area of Tanzania.

Noah will explore new collaborations regarding global health, girls’ education and empowerment, water treatment, technology and community development.

Other featured partnerships:

Ghana

Under the leadership of Dorothy Siaw-Asamoah, clinical assistant professor, the School of Management has launched partnerships with the University of Cape Coast and the Global Centre for Leadership and Social Innovation (GCLSI) in Ghana. Focusing on leadership development and entrepreneurship, UB students have already taken part in short-term study abroad experiences while engaging in education and health-related outreach. The students have studied Ghana’s rich cultural heritage, and explored social innovation and entrepreneurship in action.

Representing the Ghanaian program is Michael Boakye-Yiadom, a research fellow at the Institute for Educational Planning and Administration at the University of Cape Coast. He will be joined remotely by Prince Oduro, executive director of African Rights Initiative International, an organization partnering with UB’s Global Center for Leadership and Social Innovation.

Zimbabwe

The University at Buffalo/University of Zimbabwe (UB-UZ) initiative addresses clinical research and training needs through the UB-UZ HIV Research Training Program. This organization expands the university’s capacity for clinical research in Zimbabwe, training investigators involved in multidisciplinary project teams. UB’s globally recognized HIV pharmacology research programs also offer training in drug development, antiretroviral therapeutics and medication management, patient education and opportunities for applied clinical pharmacology.

Representing Zimbabwe is Charles Maponga, who holds a visiting faculty position with the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. He travels frequently between UB and the University of Zimbabwe while coordinating an international collaborative program, the International Pharmacotherapy Education and Research Initiative. He has started a postgraduate and postdoctoral training initiative between UB and UZ with an emphasis on HIV clinical pharmacology

Jamaica

The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Jamaica Ministry of Health have collaborated with UB’s Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences (CIGBS) to establish the Jamaica Center for Infectious Diseases Research. That organization will start as a national center, based at the UWI Mona Campus, eventually becoming a shared program in the Caribbean region incorporating 16 other countries. The center will train scientists and use the UWI network to continue the work of the emerging virus unit, which was created in response to outbreaks of the Zika and Chikungunya viruses and dengue fever.

Representing Jamaica at the Global Partner Studio Institute is Maxine Gossell-Williams, who teaches and mentors research students in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences at UWI, and John Lindo, a consulting parasitologist at the University Hospital of West Indies and co-chair of the SUNY-University of the West Indies Faculty Task Force for Health Research Development. Lindo’s research focuses on the epidemiology of soil-transmitted helminths and emerging infectious diseases.

Huber says that while individually these partnerships and related activities are impressive and showcase the scope and reach of UB faculty and programs, collectively they represent an exciting new frontier for high-impact experiential learning and university engagement.

“When you put these together with UB’s commitment to innovation, the possibilities are limitless,” she says.

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