JACKSON, Tenn. – Sept. 24, 2010 – Trips to North Africa and India have provided Union University with opportunities to expose its students to different cultures and to advance its mission internationally, two Union representatives said Sept. 23.
Randy Schwindt, associate professor of engineering, and Tim Smith, dean of the School of Nursing, led a workshop as part of the 23rd meeting of the Consortium for Global Education, held Sept. 22-24 on Union’s campus.
CGE was established in 1987 as a means for Baptist colleges and universities to engage in international opportunities. The organization consists of about 45-50 member institutions, including such universities as Baylor, Belmont, California Baptist, Oklahoma Baptist, Samford and Union. International partners include such institutions as Qingdao University and the Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China, the Ministry of Culture in Bhutan and Lithuania Christian College, among others.
About 150 people from 30 different schools attended the conference.
“It went very well,” said Cynthia Jayne, Union’s associate provost for intercultural and international studies and CGE liaison. “This has been of the richest conferences we’ve had for sharing information. There’s a maturity in the programs that we’re seeing that’s the result of years of development.”
In their workshop, Schwindt and Smith talked about two of the many international opportunities Union has had in recent months. Schwindt has led four engineering teams to a North African country, while Smith has been part of a team of nursing faculty members who traveled to India to recruit students. While Schwindt’s team was an example of Union taking its work to others, Smith’s team was an example of Union recruiting others to come to Union to benefit from the education it provides.
Schwindt’s most recent North African team, which went in the spring, consisted of students studying engineering, biology, chemistry and French. The team worked with a non-governmental organization to provide relief and development services, as well as education and training. They taught lessons on renewable energy and health in schools, and helped a village install a solar water pump.
The North African project has contributed to stronger relationships across many disciplines at the university, Schwindt said, and has helped advance Union’s institutional mission of promoting excellence and character development in service to church and society.
“Service learning is one of the pedagogy pillars around here,” Schwindt said. “Humanitarian engineering is not the only thing we should do at Union, but it is one thing.”
In his presentation, Smith discussed the globalization of health care in India and why Union has chosen to involve itself in educating Indian nursing students. With a population of 1.2 billion people, India is the second largest country in the world and has one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
But the health care system in India is not as developed as the U.S. system, Smith said, and they need help in several ways. For starters, India’s health care providers need credibility, as the education standards there aren’t as rigorous as U.S. standards. By bringing 12-24 Indian students to participate in a two-semester certificate program at Union, the university is helping to bolster nurses’ credibility.
Smith took the workshop participants on a tour of the third floor of Providence Hall, where the School of Nursing and the School of Pharmacy share 12 human patient simulators that are a vital component to the nursing education Union provides.
“Health care students learn by putting their hands on something,” Smith said, and the simulators provide the Indian nursing students with a chance to experience life-like simulations in a learning environment.