This spring, HWS students and faculty will collaborate with their counterparts in South Africa in a unique independent study program, “Beyond Borders.” The semester-long academic partnership with the Stellenbosch University’s Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Leadership Development (FVZS) was developed by Solomé Rose, the Global and Community Leadership Fellow at the Centennial Center for Leadership.
The students at HWS and FVZS will together examine global issues related to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) both in the U.S. and South Africa: HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, hunger and poverty, child health, maternal health, promoting gender equality and empowering women. Their final paper will be a comparative analysis of the issue in regards to both countries, but each student will be expected to recommend a solution to the problem for his or her own nation state or country, and also review the work of one of their counterparts.
“It was important to me that there be a peer-to-peer element in the program, so HWS students could work with their counterparts in other parts of the world on issues that impact their lives or their nation states,” says Rose, who also is a member of the Colleges’ Global Initiative on Disability staff.
The ability to look at issues from both U.S. and South African perspectives by working with a peer is also what interested a number of students in the Beyond Borders program.
“I chose to take part in the Beyond Borders program because it sounded like a good way to address real and current international issues. I’m hoping the program will be particularly beneficial because of the diverse perspectives we will be exposed to through collaborating with students from a South African school,” explains Geneva Calder ’16.
“It seemed like an extremely unique and interesting opportunity. I hope to apply much of what I have learned in previous courses,” adds Paige Anderson ’16. “It is also exciting to collaborate with a student who may have a much different educational background than my own.”
To participate, students had to apply to the program, including submission of a 500- to 800-word essay responding to an article on Ethiopia’s complicated relationship with democracy. “The notions of democracy and economic development brought forth in the article,” Rose notes, “highlight some of the issues we will explore in the program.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity to apply a lot of the radical thinking that gets done in critical theory to very practical and real political issues,” says Reid Kleinberg ’16, referring to his two majors- critical and political theory. “Beyond Borders will be an opportunity for me to see if I can make this crossover in fields work and what room there is to expand on the topic whether it be research, career, or just learning something new.”
The group will meet via Skype each week for approximately seven weeks, discussing the readings from the week before as well as implications of students’ research.
Rose knew she wanted HWS to partner with an institution in the global South for the program in an effort to change Western perceptions on development, aid and the developing world. Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn has a contact at Stellenbosch University, who then helped Rose establish connections at FVZS.
“What makes this program so exciting and pedagogically powerful is the direct collaboration the HWS students will have with compatriots in South Africa,” says Dunn. “This connection opens up opportunities for students learning from, and working with, each other. Actively hearing and engaging with perspectives from the global South should be both humbling and enriching for our students.”
In addition to Dunn, six other HWS faculty will serve as advisers: Associate Professor of Religious Studies Etin Anwar, Professor of Economics and Chair of the Environmental Studies Program Tom Drennen, Assistant Professor of Philosophy Karen Frost-Arnold, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Jack Harris, Assistant Professor of Economics Felipe Rezende and Professor of Education Charlie Temple. They are all individuals who are well versed in a number of the MDGs and can help students in whichever area they choose to focus. Additionally, Rose is working with a counterpart at FVZS, Folkers Williams, who is recruiting faculty members at FVZS whose expertise complement that of the HWS faculty. Together, they will help students in Geneva and South Africa develop their research topics.
“I’m pleased to be part of the Beyond Borders Project. It is a fine thing that through Solomé Rose’s good efforts we are combining the Colleges’ emphases on service learning, leadership and global connectedness – and it is a big advantage to have international partners at FVZS collaborate with our students and explore issues together,” says Temple. “We will be taking full advantage of the Colleges’ electronic technology as our students learn simultaneously with overseas partners. Along with my colleagues here, I look forward to getting to know the students and faculty in South Africa as the project goes forward.”
In the photo above, Solomé Rose, the first Global and Community Leadership Fellow, discusses the Beyond Borders program with students at the Centennial Center for Leadership.