The IYO, an annual initiative administered by the Office of International Programs in collaboration with academic colleges, departments, campus offices and local organizations, is intended to provide campus constituents and members of the surrounding community with a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the world around them and their place in it.
In its first two years, the IYO has generated nearly 80 co-curricular events and more than 70 courses enhanced with country-related content, educating thousands of WKU students, faculty and staff on the complexities of Ecuador (2014-15) and South Africa (2015-16). The third yearlong country spotlight will commence in the fall of 2016 with an emphasis on South Korea. An exploration of Bosnia and Herzegovina will follow in 2017-18, with Cuba taking center stage at WKU in 2018-19.
To identify the 2018-19 country of focus, the Office of International Programs invited groups of WKU faculty to submit proposals in the spring of 2016. A committee of faculty with experience with the IYO program or substantial international experience reviewed proposals, evaluating them based on the depth and breadth of faculty expertise, the potential for university-wide inclusion, and the possibility of sparking lasting changes to WKU’s international profile, among other criteria.
The success of each IYO program hinges on the expertise and input of WKU faculty. Cuba will be no exception.
Jeanie Adams-Smith, professor of Photojournalism in WKU’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting, assembled a cadre of faculty with diverse experiences and connections in the neighboring country that will be invaluable in developing and implementing the 2018-19 spotlight on Cuba. The group noted that Cuba’s mystery, rich and diverse culture, and the storied history of sites like Old Havana will provide ample opportunities for academic exploration, especially as Cuba and the U.S. navigate changes following the lift of the U.S. trade and travel embargo.
An IYO reviewer, Dr. William Mkanta, associate professor of Public Health, commented on the strengths of the proposal. In addition to the timeliness of Cuba, Mkanta noted that the IYO should serve as a prime platform for initiating sustainable partnerships in the newly accessible country.
The IYO Cuba will “provide WKU with a great opportunity to build a global learning agenda involving Cuba, enriching WKU’s international programs with a new and wider scope of academic strength that is consistent with the university mission,” he said.
Adams-Smith, along with the IYO Cuba Planning Committee and OIP, will convene in the coming academic year to begin the process of planning the 2018-19 multi-lateral focus on Cuba.
The Office of International Programs will call for faculty proposals for the 2019-20 IYO in spring 2017. Groups of faculty interested in proposing a country of focus should visit the IYO website for more information.
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 a global context and supporting the development of meaningful co-curricular programming for student, campus and community audiences.