Following a successful inaugural season, the Centennial Center for Leadership’s (CCL) Beyond Borders global leadership program has selected its 2016 student cohort to work with HWS faculty advisers and students from South Africa to examine critical issues facing Africa and the United States. Representing several majors and minors, the participants are Ato Bentsi-Enchill ’17, Susannah Berry ’16, Molly Dietrich ’17, Kimberly Gutierrez ’17, Mary Kubinski ’17, Demonic Merolla ’16 and Ryan Mullaney ’16.
An interdisciplinary, independent study program, Beyond Borders allows students a chance to address issues ranging from environmental justice, children’s education and food security to gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS and sexual rights. HWS students will meet once a week throughout the spring semester, regularly video conferencing with a group of students from Stellenbosch University’s Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Leadership Development in South Africa.
“Beyond Borders is a really unique opportunity for our students,” says CCL Program Manager for Global and Community Leadership Programs Solomé Rose, who is facilitating Beyond Borders. “For one, the model offers a different approach to understanding critical issues. By comparing the extent to which South Africa and the United States relate or differ from one another, students in the program are being exposed to a different approach to addressing development challenges. Students from South Africa are being included in the room to learn alongside American students and enhance the collective educational experience. Additionally, the use of routine technology, specifically video conferencing software is a unique method to delivering content at HWS.”
Through the program, HWS students will work with faculty advisers Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn, Professor of Education Charlie Temple, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Christopher Annear, Assistant Professor of Education Khuram Hussain, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Ervin Kosta, Assistant Professor of Political Science Justin Rose, and Assistant Professor of History Elizabeth Thornberry.
The 2016 Beyond Borders curriculum was designed based on the areas of expertise from the faculty advisers. These critical issues will be examined in a comparative nature during the discussion sessions with Stellenbosch University. In addition to the discussion sessions, HWS students will work with faculty advisors through independent studies to further explore one of the subject areas.
Solomé Rose, who recently presented at an international conference about Beyond Borders, says that the program shows students common concerns between the U.S. and Africa. The faculty will offer their scholarly perspectives and help the students better understand the issues at hand.
“I enjoy learning about cross-cultural differences and have come to value the principle of cultural relativism,” says Berry, an anthropology major. “Beyond Borders will allow me to have cross-cultural interactions with students at Stellenbosch in South Africa that can offer different perspectives on issues–both those issues I am familiar with and some which will be new to me. I am sure this will stretch me intellectually and bring a broader context to my understanding of global concerns.”
Berry says she’s excited about the program and credits Annear and his course, “African Cultures,” for helping to propel her interest. She says she’s looking forward to working with the students at Stellenbosch and being part of a global community.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity to be part of an in-depth, academic learning community that’s focused on dialogue as well as global issues,” says Mullaney, a double major in sociology and public policy studies with a concentration in education.
Bentsi-Enchill, of Ghana, agrees. “I am really excited for this program and to collaborate with my fellow students in South Africa.I think being at a liberal arts institution, it is very important to consider the perspectives surrounding various topics from different countries as these help us make informed decisions and support discussions. As an African, I am proud that this program helps me connect with my continent in an extremely unique way that can’t be found anywhere else.”