Partnership with the American University of Kurdistan (AUK)
A group of people pose for a picture
 AUK student government leaders meet with JMU student leaders in March 2022.

CISR partners with the American University of Kurdistan (AUK), located in Duhok, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, to help AUK establish itself as one of the top universities in Iraq offering an American-style education. The project provides AUK with the support needed to enhance its institutional capacity and academic programs with the goal of attaining U.S. accreditation, developing lasting U.S.-based partnerships, and expanding scholarship opportunities for a broader sector of the Iraqi population. With CISR uniquely located at JMU, CISR is able to bring together administrators, faculty, staff, and students to work with different units at AUK. During the multi-year project, CISR has partnered with JMU's College of Arts and Letters, College of Business, the Center for Assessment and Research Studies, and the Center for Global Engagement, among other units, to assist AUK with its goals of building a university of highest quality, guided by the rigorous requirements of U.S. academic accreditation standards.

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State.

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Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)
YALI RLC leaders visit JMU in March 2023.

CISR is working with the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a public diplomacy organization for young leaders in Africa, to build resource mobilization capacity, including improving fundraising and managerial effectiveness, and expanding its profile and brand through social media. CISR works with a JMU team of faculty and administrators, drawn primarily from the College of Arts & Letters and College of Business, to provide training and mentoring to YALI staff at its four Regional Leadership Centers.

YALI was launched by the United States government as a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. YALI Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) are located at higher education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa and offer leadership training programs to young leaders between the ages of 18 and 35. By providing in-person and online training, networking, and professional development opportunities, the RLCs serve as a place for young African leaders to collaborate on the continent.

Funded by a grant from USAID.

Cross-campus collaboration leads training program for young leaders from Africa.

Refugee Programs
  • Strengthening Virginia’s Ability to Provide Migration Support and Improve Refugee Population Outcomes: Across the Commonwealth of Virginia, information about resources available to support refugees and migrants is scattered, often distributed by word-of-mouth, and not standardized in ways that make it easily usable. In collaboration with Virginia Tech, CISR is working with faculty and students from JMU’s Computer Science Department to develop a responsive database to mitigate disconnects in information, and to understand the ways that refugee and migrant lived experience can inform information networks. The database will collate refugee and migrant resources and initiatives at Virginia institutions of higher education, community-based organizations, and government agencies so that local communities and stakeholders can more easily find research tools, identify services, collaborate on future initiatives, and be better prepared to track the changing landscape of refugee and migrant support networks.

Funded by a grant from 4-VA.

  • People wearing helmets but safety harnesses on preparing to climb a ropes course
    Members of Harrisonburg High School's Peer Leader Program prepare to climb JMU's ropes course.
    Harrisonburg High School Peer Leaders Program: Since 2015, CISR has partnered with the Harrisonburg City Public Schools and the local Church World Service Refugee Resettlement Office to support the high school Peer Leader Program. The program accelerates young refugees' social and academic integration and improves emotional and psychological health through team building, leadership training, and a commitment to community service. Peer Leaders discover strengths and work to smooth newcomers’ paths, and though they may not have mastered English and may not realize their own influence, high school-age refugees are vital contributors and leaders within the high school community. Building knowledge about the school and community helps them be a resource to new refugees and their family members, as well as to the community.

Funded by a combination of grants, donations, and community partnerships.

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