Science and Technology

An opportunity to assist in the development of a new nation


 

kosovo agreement signing

James Madison University has entered into an agreement with the Republic of Kosovo that will result in cooperation and collaboration among faculty, staff and students from JMU and academic institutions in the newly recognized European state.

JMU President Jonathan Alger and Arsim Bajrami, Kosovo’s minister of education, science and technology, signed the memorandum of understanding during a ceremony Sept. 15 at Madison.

The agreement covers six general areas: developing faculty expertise; teaching JMU students about Kosovo; opening the door for students in Kosovo to study at JMU; sharing JMU’s expertise in the areas of academic program review, student assessment and accreditation; pursuing projects of mutual interest; and exploring public and private funding sources to continue an ongoing exchange. 

The collaboration stems from the relationship JMU has built with Ahmet Shala, the first finance minister of Kosovo, a former Kosovar ambassador to Japan and currently a visiting professor at JMU. 

During a workshop last month sponsored by the Center for Faculty Innovation, Shala stressed that improving higher education in Kosovo is key to breaking the cycle of war in the Balkans region of southeastern Europe. Kosovo is largely pro-American due to U.S. intervention in the country’s struggle for sovereignty in the 1990s. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008. 

Kosovo is particularly interested in partnering with high-impact graduate programs in the U.S., and JMU’s size, reputation and expertise was attractive, Shala said. The country has received 30 million euros in USAID scholarships for Kosovar students to enroll in Ph.D. and master’s programs in areas such as information technology, public administration, education and the environment. 

For JMU, the agreement offers “an opportunity to play an important role in the civic development, community development and higher educational system of a new nation,” said Dr. Michael Stoloff, interim associate dean of The Graduate School. 

More than a dozen projects involving JMU faculty members and students are already underway, ranging from class initiatives on Kosovar environmental issues to the deployment of an assessment and accreditation team that will consult with Kosovar universities.

Dr. Jon Miles, professor of integrated science and technology and director of the Center for Wind Energy at JMU, will lead a trip to Kosovo in the spring to survey places where wind energy installations may be possible. Similarly, assistant professor of psychology Dr. Deborah Sturm, who last year took a group of JMU honors students to Malta, is working on projects in the region involving the psychology of sustainability and the connection to the natural world, which may include a trip to Kosovo in 2017.

This month, Dr. Herb Amato, associate vice provost of University Studies, and Dr. Keston Fulcher, director of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies, will visit Kosovo to explore whether JMU can assist academic institutions there with assessment, program review and accreditation.

These and other innovative projects are engaging faculty and students in cross-cultural collaborations that have both short-term and long-term impact potential.

For more information, contact Michael Stoloff at stolofml@jmu.edu

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Published: Monday, November 16, 2015

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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