Samford University professor Rosemary Fisk will participate in an Institute of International Education (IIE) initiative to develop partnerships with universities in Myanmar and to assist in rebuilding higher education capacity in the country. Nine U.S. colleges and universities will take part in the initiative known as the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP), although Samford is the only one from the South.
The IIE will announce its plans on the heels of President Obama's historic trip to Myanmar Nov. 17-20 as the first American president to visit the southeast Asian nation also known as Burma.
Dr. Fisk, associate dean of Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences, will travel with the IIE delegation to Myanmar in February to meet with the Ministry of Education--now headed by civilians rather than military officers--to discuss how strategic partnerships might help the country's new government rebuild its higher education infrastructure after years of closed or suppressed educational systems.
"If the universities can begin educating graduates to compete according to international standards, many will choose to become teachers and bring the reforms to the secondary level within a very few years," said Dr. Fisk. "Thus, the ripple effect will impact the entire system."
The delegation also will explore formal institutional partnerships that might benefit the U.S. universities as well.
Fisk spent a semester in 2011 as a Fulbright Scholar in Hong Kong helping the city's public universities advance from three-year to four-year curricula. In previous years, she has also visited Myanmar as the leader of Samford travel study courses. The February visit will be her fifth to Myanmar in just over a decade.
In presentations in Yangon and Mandalay during the upcoming February visit, she will address the Hong Kong reforms that might apply to a range of schools and professional programs in Myanmar. She will also showcase Samford's curriculum built around a core and additional general education courses.
Samford was selected as one of the IAPP schools based on its application that outlined its ability to develop linkages with institutions in Myanmar and its interest in providing capacity building services. Having faculty with experience in Myanmar was also a factor. The other schools selected were American University, Arizona State, Ball State, Hawaii Pacific, Northern Illinois, Northern Arizona, the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and the University of Washington.
The IIE is an independent nonprofit organization headquartered in New York City that designs and implements international exchange programs for students, educators, professionals and others. Founded in 1919 and now with more than 1,000 member institutions, it works closely with the U.S. State Department and consulate officers through a network of 18 offices worldwide.