Study Abroad in the Gambia
Assistant Professor Public Health Department
PAC 320 206-8485
Global Studies Program, Political Science
PAC 322 206-7875
Dean, College of Education and Human Services
The University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Health Department, Global Studies Program, and Teacher Education Department are collaborating with the University of The Gambia (UTG) in Africa to provide opportunities for the UIS students and faculty to engage in teaching and research activities.
The proposed collaboration is in line with the UIS mission statement, which states that “UIS provides an intellectually rich, collaborative, and intimate learning environment for students, faculty, and staff, while serving local, regional, state, national, and international communities.”
UIS has collaborations and links with 33 universities in 13 countries world-wide, and none of these are in Africa. As a result, Dr. Josiah Alamu (originally from Africa), thought that going to The Gambia might fill the gap and thus help the UIS establish a link with a university in Africa. He worked in The Gambia College School of Public Health as a contract lecturer for several years before he came to the United States. At the time, UTG was non-existent. Having established his career in the UIS Public Health Department, Dr. Alamu will collaborate with Drs. Hilary Frost-Kumpf and Larry Stonecipher to establish a link with UTG.
Partnership with an institution in Africa is very important for several reasons. It will provide opportunities for:
- public health students to understand the global public health issues and social-determinants of health in a developing country;
- students in the global studies to meet with scholars and other students from a developing country to discuss perspectives in international relations, economics, policy, business; and governance;
- students in the education program to observe classes and teach in a developing country; and
- faculty to develop research and teaching activities in a developing country.
The main objectives of our proposed collaboration with the University of the Gambia are:
- To foster excellence in teaching and learning
- To foster excellence in scholarship
- To provide opportunities for professional and educational enrichment through a reciprocal student exchange
- To establish research and support programs in various academic disciplines
The potential benefits likely to accrue for the UIS and faculty, students, and staff are not limited to international exposure. The experience of the first year’s group of interns will be leveraged to seek external funding to attract long-term funding for the internships. The program will also provide a conduit for students’ recruitment and be an important achievement to support accreditation and reaccreditation of the academic programs involved.
The following are some of the select benefits for the UIS community:
Pilot grant application to Forgarty Center
The principal program coordinator will submit a grant application to John E. Forgarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Sciences for funding to perform research and training in the Gambia. Securing a grant from the UIS Strategic Academic Initiative will provide seed funding and give potential funders clear evidence of UIS’s institutional commitment to the project.
Within this proposal is an opportunity to match students and faculty to preceptors in their respective areas of research. For example, Dr. Josiah Alamu will work with students to design an epidemiologic study of neglected diseases in the Gambia. Working on a project like this will give student opportunities to gain hands-on field experience in epidemiology. Students will also have the opportunity to submit their works for presentation in local and international conferences.
The UIS Masters of Public Health Program is currently under review for accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). One of the core areas of CEPH assessment is scholarship, i.e., participation of primary faculty and students in outstanding and innovative scholarship activities essential for advancement of public health practices. We anticipate that this proposal will enhance our status and credibility when CEPH visits our campus in spring 2012. Taking students on internships to the Gambia will help faculty and students to produce scholarly work in areas related to their field and presentation of such work in professional conferences; encourage faculty to obtain internal or external funding for their scholastic activities; and promote students understanding of public health research through course work and field experiences.
Study Abroad Opportunities
This program will allow UIS to initiate its first study abroad program in Africa. A formal agreement between The University of The Gambia and UIS is currently being developed which will allow for mutual cooperation between the universities in education, training, and research. Among other things this will allow for exchange of students in a region of the world that is not well understood, and is rarely visited, by American students.
We are proposing to recruit at least ten students (undergraduate and graduate) primarily from the UIS’s Public Health Department, Teacher Education Department, and Global Studies Program to pursue summer internships in The Gambia between May 18 and June 24, 2011.
This internship is designed to broaden the training of these students to encompass international perspectives. For example, public health students will gain experience in international health issues; education students will gain firsthand knowledge of teaching and course delivery in a developing country; and students from global studies will gain international experience associated with global issues.
Additionally, this internship will assist students to participate in collaborative research initiatives with UIS and UTG faculty.
The following are the specific projects that students will embark on while in The Gambia.
Activity 1: Collaborative Project
Three faculties from UTG will coordinate all the internship activities with Dr. Josiah Alamu. These faculties are Dr. Alieu Taal (Head, Social Sciences Department); Dr. Musa Sowe (Dean, School of Education); and Dr. Rex Kuye (Head, Public Health Department). These mentors are responsible for arranging a program of study for UIS students, including attachments with local organizations and/ or academic departments that match the interests of the UIS students. We anticipate a joint project for the UIS graduate and undergraduate students. Within this collaborative project, public health students, global studies students, and teacher education students will visit local clinics in the Gambia to learn how health officials carry out health education, immunization, and other public health services. In addition, the students will meet with Gambian scholars, students, government ministers and/or representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations, who are interested in discussion of differing perspectives on “global issues.” We would hope for an opportunity for the students to learn about how Gambians understand international issues (e.g. security, globalization, climate change), and how those perspectives differ from American perspectives. The format of our meetings may be interviews and/or group discussions between the UIS students and Gambians. We want the UIS students to come away with at least some sense of Gambian perspectives on these issues, as well as the role Americans can play both in addressing these issues and in helping other Americans to understand the perspectives of the people of one African nation. The trip to The Gambia would give the students a case study, a chance to meet directly with Africans to discuss the things they have been reading about. If possible, it would be nice if a class of Gambian students could read similar materials and would be prepared for a directed discussion with the UIS students, moderated by their professor and Dr. Frost-Kumpf. Finally, all students will meet UTG education students, education ministers, and superintendents in The Gambia, and visit Gambian schools and observe classes.
Activity 2: Specific Project
Dr. Rex Kuye and other staff at the UTG Public Health Department will arrange a program of study for the UIS public health students, including attachment with local organizations and/ or academic departments that match students’ interests, as well as provide opportunities for study in the field (depending on the interesting of the student).
Students are required to write a research paper at the end of their internship. Students may choose from the following areas of research:
Malaria research activities with the Gambia Malaria Control Unit
HIV Prevention Services
Tuberculosis Control Units
Vaccination and Immunization Services
Environmental Health Services
Vital Statistics Department
Public Health Policy and Administration Services
The UTG mentor and Dr. Josiah Alamu will meet weekly with the UIS students to discuss their progress and provide advice/assistance as needed with the research paper that they are required to write.
Activity 3: Poster Presentation and Discussion
Students will work in group or as an individual to present the outcome of their activities while in the Gambia to the UIS community. Public health students will be encouraged to submit posters and abstract of other research work to both national and international conferences and seminars.
This internship/study abroad project is open to all students who are enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate program at the UIS. However, priorities will be given to students from public health, global studies, and teachers’ education programs. The UIS Office of International Programs will promote the program through its web site, advertising in the student newspaper, all-campus e-mails, production and display of posters and flyers, and the organization of information sessions both specific to the program and to all study abroad programs.
Dr. Josiah Alamu plans to promote the program through class visits, interest meetings, emails, and other campus networks. We plan to organize at least two pre-departure orientation meetings. Additionally, Dr. Josiah Alamu in conjunction with the Office of International Programs program plans to disseminate materials related to the itinerary, travel arrangements, housing, pre-departure and on-site contact information. Protocols to ensure that all students submit copies of their passports, sign the Acknowledgement of Risk and Responsibilities form, pay appropriate program fees, and are enrolled in the CISI insurance plan or have submitted an insurance waiver form will be enforced by the Office of International Programs.