Teams explore an AGREC project at the Canadian consulate. Photos courtesy of Lola Owokoniran of KSU Global Education.

Editor’s note: The below sponsored article was written by Justin Roth and is a published as part of Kennesaw State University Global Education‘s annual advertising partnership with Global Atlanta.  

Faculty and staff from Kennesaw State University will lead six collaborative projects during the 2022-23 academic year as part of the Atlanta Global Research & Education Collaborative (AGREC) program.

Kennesaw State is one of six affiliated universities with AGREC, including Georgia Tech, Emory University, Georgia State University, Spelman College and Agnes Scott College. The initiative has awarded $105,000 this year to support 11 selected projects.

AGREC bolsters global engagement in the region by supporting “global at home” projects that empower students, faculty, and community partners to use research, education and action to address global issues.

Since its 2020 launch, AGREC has supported 26 interdisciplinary research and education projects focusing on community engagement and global issues.

“Being a part of AGREC for the past two years has allowed us to support several exciting and innovative projects that will benefit not only the Greater Atlanta area but also the global community,” said Lola OwokoniranGlobal Education’s director of community engagement and outreach. “We are happy to note that half of the awarded projects are from KSU faculty members.”

Enhancing global and STEM Knowledge through virtual exchanges with South Korea

Jayoung Choi, associate professor of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in the Inclusive Education Department of the Bagwell College of Education, is working to develop multiculturalism and global citizenship in a more structured, rigorous way for elementary school students in science and math.

With Co-principal investigator Haykoon Lee, assistant professor of Korean at Georgia State University, and team members Aram Cho, lecturer of Korean at Georgia State University, and MyoungEun Pang, lecturer of Korean at Emory University, they will build a global network between Parsons Elementary School in Gwinnett County and YoungHwa Elementary School in South Korea to enhance the diverse ways of constructing and exchanging knowledge between among students.

Through ongoing collaboration with teachers and administrators at home and abroad, the project aims to develop science and math materials to exchange, develop curriculum on a website, and provide current and authentic materials. Going one step further, the ultimate goal is to form study abroad exchanges between the two schools.

Removing study abroad barriers for students

Seneca Vaught, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies and coordinator of African and African Diaspora Studies in the Norman J. Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences, is building on last year’s grant funding with Phase II of his team’s project to make study abroad more accessible to Black students.

Vaught will emphasize global connections while being grounded locally with Delta Air Lines as a community partner along with Co-PI Heather Inez Scott, assistant dean for Inclusive Leadership at Agnes Scott College, and team members Regine O. Jackson, dean of Humanities, Social Sciences, Media & Arts Division and sociology professor at Morehouse College and Meda J. Rollings, assistant vice president of Student Success and assistant professor of communication at Atlanta Metropolitan State College.

By focusing on students, faculty, staff, intersectional identities, and higher education structures, this project will assess pre-departure, in-country, and reentry practices to develop new potential collaborative programs that engage Black students’ identities holistically. The team hopes to remove barriers for students in the early stages of their academic journey and allow them to study abroad more frequently.

Providing youth leadership experiences in sustainability

Inspired by KSU’s own Distinguished Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Ambassador Program within Global Education, the RCE Greater Atlanta SDG Futures Fellowship encourages students to examine problem-based learning focused on local sustainability challenges.

The project will involve two university staff: Vivian Pascual, program manager for community engagement and outreach at Global Education as a Co-PI, and William Hargrove, assistant director for Student Volunteerism and Service as a team member, who will provide an eight-month leadership and professional development experience to 15-20 students enrolled in higher education institutions that are members of RCE Greater Atlanta.

Additional partners include Co-PI Kristina Chatfield, program and operations manager with Georgia Tech’s Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain, and six community partners including Sustainable Georgia Futures, Re’Generation Movement, Communidad Connect, Karmalize, Greenhouse Accelerator, and the Consulate General of Canada. The fellowship program also aids in preparing students to pursue impactful careers while promoting long-term partnerships between fellows, community-based and nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, and the RCE Greater Atlanta network.

Supporting college readiness

Darlene Rodriguez-Schaefer has a passion for educational development. The associate professor of social work and human services at Kennesaw State’s WellStar College will work with Georgia Tech’s Ruthie Yow, service learning and partnership specialist, and Allen Hyde, assistant professor in the School of History and Sociology, to advance college preparedness for refugee and New American high-school-aged students in Clarkston.

Partnering with the Re’Generation Movement and Step Ahead Scholars, two summer workshops will be developed for Georgia Tech’s 2023 First Generation College Institute that will support students in using what they learn to enroll at any college or university. The team plans to hire two first-generation student interns to assist with workshop preparation, create legacy documents for future workshops, and craft a paper describing best practices in preparing first-generation refugee and New American students for college.

Breaking down stereotypes through a traveling exhibit

Maia Hallward, professor of Middle East politics and interim director of the International Conflict Management program in the Radow College, wants to support social studies curriculum in Georgia’s public schools.

Working with Co-PI S. Rashid Naim, principal senior lecturer at the Middle East Studies Center at Georgia State University, the project will create an exhibit for middle school students that provides more accurate and comprehensive information about the Middle East and the region’s diversity. Hallward’s team will also partner with the Alif Institute and draw on the experience of faculty and students specializing in the Middle East at KSU and GSU.

Developing community science partnerships

Last year, Allen Roberts helped to establish the region’s first Community Science Collaboratory for universities and community-based organizations to address local-to-global issues through knowledge-sharing, problem identification, scientific collaboration, and public engagement.

The associate professor and program director of geospatial sciences in the Radow College is a team member on this project, with Co-PIs Rebecca Watts Hull, service learning and partnerships specialist at Georgia Tech, and Carolyn Keough, lecturer of ecology at Emory University. Along with the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance and the Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, the projectserves to further develop relationships with the founding institutions and organizations.

In its second year, the Collaboratory will submit a major funding proposal (National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, or similar), expand the website to include membership and proposal vetting processes, and complete its first capacity-building workshop.

Global Education is the AGREC campus representative for KSU, along with additional university partners: The Atlanta Global Studies Center (a consortium of Georgia Tech and Georgia StateUniversity), Emory University’s Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives, Agnes Scott College’s SUMMIT Center for Global Learning and Leadership Development, and Spelman College’s Gordon Zeto Center for Global Education.

Lola Owokoniran, who leads community engagement and outreach for Global Education, believes that relationships like AGREC are a key component of the university’s mission.

“We look forward to seeing how these initiatives will benefit our region and strengthen collaborative partnerships in the future.”

More information is available on the AGREC website.

– By Justin Roth
Photos courtesy of Lola Owokoniran

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...