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International Year of Country will begin with Ecuador in 2014-15

Beginning in the fall of 2014, WKU and the Bowling Green community will experience an annual cultural immersion through a yearlong program called the International Year of Country.

Led by the Office of International Programs, the International Year of Country will be an ongoing initiative designed to provide the WKU campus and surrounding community with a rich, complex sense of place and interconnectedness through a yearlong celebration that emphasizes a single country/region each year.

To ensure that each year has the greatest possible impact, OIP will work with a planning committee, made up of WKU faculty and staff with strong connections to the country of focus, to construct a robust calendar of events, utilizing committee members’ contacts and resources, in the semesters leading up to the actual year of celebration.

The inaugural year (2014-15) will focus on Ecuador, followed by South Africa (2015-16), South Korea (2016-17) and Bosnia (2017-18), respectively.  A number of factors led to the selection of Ecuador for the opening year, including an existing student exchange agreement with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, multiple long-standing study abroad programs to Ecuador, a statewide connection through the Kentucky-Ecuador Partners, along with a deep pool of faculty with ties to Ecuador.

The International Year of Country program is designed to have a comprehensive impact on the WKU campus as well as the surrounding community.

“This initiative will provide WKU students the opportunity to engage with and explore multiple regions of the world throughout their academic careers,” said Dr. Craig T. Cobane, Chief International Officer at WKU.  “Enhanced course work, co-curricular activities, research projects, education abroad program offerings, visiting scholars and specialists, new institutional partnerships, etc., are just some of the ways we will integrate the target country into the campus experience.”

Ideally, all colleges and a majority of academic departments and campus units will be represented, providing multiple and varied opportunities for engagement with Ecuador.  To facilitate campus and community-wide involvement, OIP has dedicated substantial funding to each year’s programming.

The OIP initiative will also offer WKU faculty a unique international faculty development piece called the Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar (ZSEIFS). The ZSEIFS, a key component of the International Year of Country, is intended to enhance the overall objectives of the yearlong program through an intense interdisciplinary development opportunity for faculty centering on the country/region of focus.  WKU faculty with limited international experience who are looking to augment their teaching with global content or pursue international research are encouraged to apply.

Each seminar will be led by a WKU faculty member with expertise and experience in the target country/region.  David Coffey, Department of Agriculture, has been selected as the faculty leader for the ZSEIFS to Ecuador in May of 2014.

“After 30 years, Ecuador continues to fascinate me,” Dr. Coffey said.  “This is a great opportunity for WKU faculty members to expand their knowledge of Latin America.  Participants can expect to be challenged and pushed out of their comfort zones as we explore the people, institutions, places and issues of Ecuador from an interdisciplinary perspective.”

The International Year of Country program is not exclusive to the WKU campus.  Where possible, programming and events will be open to the Bowling Green community.  According to Dr. Cobane, “WKU is a part of a vibrant and increasingly diverse community; there are wide range of ways Bowling Green and surrounding areas can partner on each of the countries selected.”

For information on the International Year of Country program, or to learn how to get involved with the International Year of Ecuador or the Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar, visit the OIP website or contact the OIP coordinator at internationalization@wku.edu, (270) 745-3036.

About the Office of International Programs: The Office of International Programs supports the internationalization agenda of the university by creating opportunities for faculty and staff development in an global context and supporting the development of meaningful co-curricular programming for student, campus and community audiences.

Contact: Office of International Programs, (270) 745-3036.

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