In Spring 2014, a joint course will be offered for Master of Public Administration (MPA) students and organizational leadership undergraduate students that will include a nine-day study-abroad experience to the United Nations University of Peace in Costa Rica. Classroom learning will be complemented with interactive visits to relevant organizations and other field visits in this Central American country.
This course focuses on cutting-edge concepts in leadership, peace and sustainability. It will provide students with the perspectives required to lead with a new spirit of cooperation and sensitivity to global interconnectedness. “Students will learn about the importance of leadership in a world that is increasingly uncertain and that faces more challenging issues,” says Dr. Whitney McIntyre Miller, one of the two professors co-teaching the course.
Students will learn about organizations in Costa Rica that are leading examples of working to improve peace and sustainability, and they will connect their learning back to organizations in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region that are dealing with similar issues. “At the end of the course, students should feel empowered to make positive changes in their organizations to address some of the growing challenges we face, including peace and sustainability,” says Dr. McIntyre Miller.
This new study-abroad experience is a wonderful opportunity for MPA students, according to Dr. Julie Olberding, director of the MPA program. “A number of our students have expressed interest in doing some type of study abroad, but many of them work full time and have family commitments, so it’s virtually impossible for them to participate in a traditional semester-long experience,” she says. “This class will enable them to learn in another country within the constraints of their professional and personal lives.”
A few years ago, the MPA program offered a study-abroad course, led by Dr. Shamima Ahmed, which took students to Bangladesh for a month to study microfinance or microcredit. Microfinance programs make small loans with reasonable interest rates to poor people, who otherwise would not have access to such funds, in order to help them create small business ventures and, ultimately, to reduce poverty in the region or country. The students worked with the Grameen Bank and Dr. Muhammed Yunis, which have been recognized internationally for their work in this area, including a Nobel Peace Prize.
“The students — now alumni — who studied in Bangladesh have indicated that it was one of the most memorable and impactful experiences in the MPA program and even in their lives overall. These impacts range from setting themselves apart in job interviews to applying concepts to their own organizations in the United States to altering their career paths,” says Dr. Olberding. “I expect that this new study-abroad course in Costa Rica will have similar positive outcomes.”
This three-credit class can serve as an elective for the General Public Administration area in the MPA program and for the other areas with approval from the MPA director. The exact dates of the study-abroad portion of the class are March 7-15. Any interested student must complete the following application and submit it to UC 415 with a copy of his/her passport and a $500 deposit. Students will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis with a final deadline of November 29: http://iec.nku.edu/content/dam/iec/docs/Costa%20Rica%20application.pdf