Harper Receives Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Grant: Harper College

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Harper College’s Office of International Education a Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad (GPA) grant. The $163,444 grant helps fund a professional development program in East Africa titled Teaching Africa Today: Environmental and Sustainability Issues in Kenya and Uganda through a Social Justice Lens.

Co-led by Prof. Harper, Dr. Richard Johnson (English) and Prof. Mukila Maitha (Geography), the 18-month project began in June and will include two semesters of pre-departure work in Fall 2022 and spring 2023. The centerpiece will be a six-week field seminar for 12 educators in Kenya and Uganda during summer 2023, followed by additional months to review and report lessons learned. The project will end in November 2023.

“We are honored to receive this grant and excited for the opportunities it will provide for our college and the surrounding community,” said Johnson, outgoing director of the Office of International Education. “International professional development has been a focus of Harper’s Office of International Education for eight years. When teachers see the big picture, we are able to bring that perspective into the classroom. »

Maitha agreed, noting the project’s focus on one of the most fascinating regions on earth.

“By participating in this program, educators will be able to introduce their students to the environmental and socio-economic issues of a region of world that is woven into the fabric of nations today,” he said. “East Africa’s history dates back to the dawn of mankind and the region has some of the fastest growing and evolving countries today.”

The purpose of the Fulbright-Hays GPA Program – like the associated Fulbright Fellowship Program – is to encourage international goodwill and cultural exchange. Additionally, the program supports overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development for K-12 educators, higher education, and graduate students. As such, Harper is including two of its own teachers in this project, as well as five community college teachers from Illinois and Indiana, and five K-12 teachers from schools in the Harper District and Chicago public schools.

The objectives of the Teaching Environmental Sustainability project include:

  • Develop an international cohort of experts on the myriad impacts of climate change in Uganda and Kenya through a social justice lens.
  • To create innovative international and cross-cultural curricula, drawn from the immersion experience, at Harper and surrounding institutions.
  • To foster in participants an understanding and appreciation of Kiswahili as an indigenous language and its role in cultural preservation and community identity.

Harper is one of only two community colleges, out of 16 funded applications, to receive the GPA grant. It will fund 97% of the total program budget ($168,658), with the remaining 3% coming from non-governmental sources.

“We are not only honored to receive the GPA grant, we are excited about the educational and partnership opportunities it will bring,” said Nellie Khalil, assistant professor and new director of Harper’s Office of International Education. “From establishing a regular study abroad program for Harper students to faculty exchanges between Harper and East African universities, we expect the Teach Africa project today have far-reaching impacts in Harper and her community.

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