U.S./Uzbekistan Network and International Exchange for Development

At least 14 Uzbek youth, ages 18-24, will spend 21 days learning and working alongside students at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. These interdisciplinary, cross-cultural student teams will explore careers in government, education, community organizing and development, socially responsible business. Then, they will apply classroom knowledge to develop and execute collaborative projects that make an impact in the community.

Teachers College faculty David Roof and Rachel Geesa developed the project, titled U.S./Uzbekistan Network and International Exchange for Development (UNITED), which is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of State. UNITED also involves Ball State faulty traveling to Uzbekistan this Spring to deliver seminars about global citizenship, community engagement, and leadership.

“This project will make a valuable contribution to relationships between two strategically important countries,” said Roof, a professor of Educational Studies and the project’s co-principal investigator. “This program will also enhance academic cooperation between the United States and Uzbekistan — two democratic partner countries which share common goals and aspirations.”

Geesa, a professor of Educational Leadership, said Ball State faculty from across campus will participate in the project — teaching students about key concepts related to civics — and then guiding them through hands-on projects that challenge students to apply their knowledge to benefit the community.

“Students will dig into a topic they are passionate about and work with others to organize a public discussion about a critical issue or undertake a need or assets assessment of a particular geographic or demographic community,” said Geesa, a co-principal for the project. “They can collaborate in a co-creative way with local or state actors already engaged in meaningful public work — really, the project is up to them. I’m excited to see what they come up with when they apply knowledge to action.”

Ball State’s Digital Corps will support the interdisciplinary student teams execute any digital elements of their projects, including website design and development, public relations, and social media strategy. The UNITED project will also coordinate with Ball State’s Office of Student Life. Kara Westfall, Associate Director of Student Like said that their office “will ensure the Uzbek and Ball State students engage in a full spectrum of leadership activities and service.”

Campus and community members involved in the project, include: Dr. Susan Luo, International Program Coordinator at Rinker Center for Global Affairs/the Intensive English Institute, will serve as project manager. Kate Elliott, a lecturer of journalism, will work to share information about media literacy. Phil Boltz, a School & Educational Data Systems Designer who has extensive experience in global affairs, will serve as a consultant on the project.

For more information about UNITED, please contact Dr. David J. Roof at djroof@bsu.edu