NIU involved in historic visit to Myanmar

Christopher McCord and Catherine Raymond

Christopher McCord and Catherine Raymond

Representatives from NIU will take part in a delegation of 10 U.S. universities that are traveling to Myanmar this week to learn more about the state of higher education in the country and to explore potential partnership opportunities.

Catherine Raymond, director of the Center for Burma Studies, and Christopher McCord, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will represent NIU in the delegation.

The project is part of the Institute’s Myanmar higher education initiative which seeks to help the country rebuild its capacity in higher education.

Allan Goodman, president and CEO of Institute of International Education, is leading the delegation along with Meghann Curtis, deputy assistant secretary of state for Academic Programs.

Representatives from the U.S. Embassy also will join the group, which will visit universities, organizations and government entities in Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw, including Yangon University, Yangon Technological University, the Myanmar Institute of Theology, Dagon University, Myanmar Institute of Economics and Mandalay University. The visits will take place from Sunday, Feb. 24, to Friday, March 1, and delegation members will produce a report on higher education needs in Myanmar based on the findings of their meetings.

This is the largest delegation of U.S. universities to travel to Myanmar. Participating universities are NIU, American University, Arizona State University, Ball State University, Hawaii Pacific University, Northern Arizona University, Rutgers University, Samford University, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and the University of Washington

Institute of International Education logoThe colleges selected have experience with Myanmar, whether through diaspora students and faculty on their campuses or through previous work in the country.

This delegation represents a commitment on the part of U.S. higher education to participate in the process of building connections and capacity at the host universities. Members of the delegation will deliver lectures on a variety of topics. The lectures will be open to educators and other university representatives, and will include companion materials translated into the Myanmar language.

Lectures will include such topics as: the Role of Universities in Civil Society and Economic Development; New Teaching Methodologies; the General Education Curriculum; Internationalization of the University; Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Higher Education; University Governance and Management; Private-Public Partnerships in Higher Education; University Shared Governance; Student Services/Student Affairs; Promoting Engaged Learning Among Students; as well as lectures in field-specific topics.

The Myanmar initiative includes a series of bi-national conference calls to increase higher education cooperation between the United States and Myanmar. The universities are taking part in IIE’s International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP) with Myanmar, a six-month program that assists colleges and universities in developing a strategic plan for partnering with counterparts in Myanmar.

Flag of MyanmarIn addition to the February visit, they have participated in informational webinars, conducted a guided strategic planing exercise, benefited from expert mentorship, and gained access to IIE’s partnership resources.

Several distinguished Myanmar experts have played a key role in guiding the Myanmar Initiative.

Advisory board members include:

  • Priscilla Clapp, retired minister-counselor, U.S. Foreign Service and senior adviser at the Asia Society;
  • Suzanne DiMaggio, vice president, Global Policy Programs with the Asia Society;
  • Zachary Klim, associate director of Academic Initiatives and Global Programs, New York University; and
  • Robert Rotberg, former director of the Program on Intrastate Conflict at John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and former president emeritus, World Peace Foundation.

According to the Open Door Report on International Educational Exchange, published annually by IIE with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 796 Myanmar students studied in the United States in the academic year 2010-11, a 14.5 percent increase from the previous year. These numbers are expected to grow as the country continues to open up to the world.

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas.

An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 18 offices worldwide and more than 1,000 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad.

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