IIE Networker - Spring 2007 - (Page 46)

Knowledge Network Faculty View A Multidisciplinary International Linkage An Engineering Faculty’s Viewpoint By Takoi K. Hamrita Tartir Takoi K. Hamrita Tartir, Associate Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Georgia. Creating effective opportunities for international programs is a shared responsibility between the institution and the faculty within it. Although administrative units created for the purpose of enhancing global programs within a campus are very important, faculty from all disciplines should proactively seek internationalization opportunities. Yet, for those of us without program management components in our job description, we fear administrative responsibilities might compromise our research and that our efforts might go unrewarded by our institutions. Many faculty members also fear venturing out of our traditional teaching and research roles. In order for faculty to effectively participate in our campus internationalization efforts, they must overcome departmental, disciplinary, infrastructure, and traditional role boundaries. When we talk about international work, we often talk about building bridges. Bridges are by definition structures designed and built by some so that others can pass through, hence the altruistic nature of international work. Here lies one of the challenges of initiating international programs in academic environments. As faculty, we have been trained to singularly pull resources and attention to ourselves, our disciplines, our areas of research, our unit, our turf, instead of integrating resources for a greater common good. The most effective international linkages, regardless of their size, scope, goals, and context, begin with people who put the common good before their own and cut across barriers to pull together whatever it takes to form that bridge. Background When I left Tunisia 22 years ago as an 18-year-old girl to study engineering at Georgia Tech, it was with a mix of exhilaration, fear, hope, and admiration for my parents who let me go to a world they knew almost nothing about. At the time, I was one of only a handful of Tunisian girls who went overseas for education. As I took the leap to study electrical engineering at Georgia Tech, my subconscious wrestled with two fears I never articulated at the time: that engineering, though a great match for my scientific background and analytical skills, might be too narrow of a field and limit my ability to make a difference. [When you grow up in a developing country, academic achievement is central to your life and you grow up with aspirations to change the world. If you are a star student (and I was), your family, your home town and your country expect it of you]. My second fear was that someday I might lose touch with my home country and its reality. As a student and now as a faculty member, I have made choices to embrace a bigger picture than the one dictated by traditional engineering boundaries to counterbalance the pull toward narrow specialization. Also, I have made efforts to stay in close touch with Tunisia and its education system by participating in conferences and scientific events, serving on scientific organizations, and seeking networking opportunities. Though building a linkage with Tunisia had been brewing in my mind for a long time, it became more pertinent as I realized that developments in the geopolitical arena made collaborating with an Arab Muslim country one of the most important things I could do with my career and for my institution. I was not interested in just conducting joint teaching and research programs between a few UGA colleagues and our Tunisian counterparts. From the start, I had the ambitious goal of creating a far reaching, holistic, and comprehensive partnership which would have a profound impact on Tunisia and its higher education system as well as on my institution. The partnership had to align with the efforts of the Tunisian ministry of higher education and Tunisian universities to modernize the education system, increase its relevance and impact on social and economic development, and tune it to international standards; in addition to furthering UGA’s globalization efforts, and contributing to a better understanding between the U.S. and the Arab world. Building Bridges Being an engineer, I realize that building a strong bridge requires careful planning, structurally sound design, careful selection of material, and a close study of the grounds on which the bridge would sit. Unlike physical bridges however, bridges built for When you grow up in a developing country, academic achievement is central to your life and you grow up with aspirations to change the world.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2007

IIE Networker - Spring 2007
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
Best Practices in International Education: Andrew Heiskell Awards 2007
In-Country Consortia: Rethinking Collaboration in Education Abroad
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series: A Conversation with President John B. Simpson, State University of New York at Buffalo
Higher Education in Pakistan: A Silent Revolution
Opening Minds to the World: Toyota and IIE
Dual Degree Programs
South Africa–USA Partnership
Faculty View
The Browser: Index of Advertisers

IIE Networker - Spring 2007