Appalachian plans partnership course with Russia and Pakistan


The Appalachian Online

Tommy Culkin

Appalachian State University is collaborating with schools in Pakistan and Russia to create a joint course in global leadership. The class will be offered starting in the fall.

Working with Appalachian will be COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in Pakistan, and Novgorod State University in Russia.

The course will be offered to graduate students at the participating schools as a pilot course. If the class is a success, four more classes are in the planning stages that will lead to a 12 hour interdisciplinary graduate certificate if completed.

Barbara Howard, one of the professors at Appalachian who will be teaching the class, said many universities have global leadership courses. However, most of these courses do not actually involve interactions with other cultures, which Howard said is an important distinction.

“If students look at other cultures through a fishbowl, with their own lens, they can’t fully appreciate or understand that culture,” Howard said.

This pilot course will seek to understand the foundations and meaning of culture.

John Tashner, an Appalachian professor involved with creating the course, said that the experience of creating the class has been as big a learning experience for him as the class itself will likely be for the students.

“It’s fascinating to gain an understanding of how cultures work,” Tashner said. “I’ve personally learned so much just from planning this course.”

Students from the three universities will be split up into groups, and over the course of the semester, the groups will work on a number of projects.

The course will be mostly asynchronous, meaning that most classwork will be done on students’ own time and not in a designated class time. This is to accommodate for the wide difference in time zones. When it’s early morning in Boone, it’s mid-afternoon in Russia, and late evening in Pakistan, Howard said.

Howard said that a lack of cultural awareness frequently results in international affairs falling through.

“So often, with state departments and with businesses, negotiations break down simply because we don’t understand what the other culture’s saying,” Howard said.

Tashner said that internationalizing the classroom experience has been a large priority of his for a long time, and he’s excited to see where the course will lead.

“Studying abroad is a great way to gain international experiences, but unfortunately, most students don’t have the opportunity to do that,” Tashner said. “This course will finally give us the way to globalize our classrooms.”

According to Tashner, Appalachian’s administration was extremely supportive of the course.

“Improving globalization is a key component of our Quality Enhancement Plan,” Tashner said. “After having talks with various high level officials around campus, we found that there was a great deal of interest and shared commitment to the idea.”

Ultimately, Tashner said he believes this course is integral to what the college experience should be about.

“You go to college to expand your worldview,” Tashner said. “Rather than becoming more isolated, we should be focussed on becoming more broad minded and accepting.”

Story by Tommy Culkin, Senior News Reporter