UO receives $1 million grant for university partnership in Pakistan

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The U.S. Department of State has awarded the University of Oregon a $1 million federal assistance grant to advance a three-year cooperative agreement and academic partnership with Karakoram International University in Gilgit, Pakistan.

The Center for Asian and Pacific Studies in the UO Office of International Affairs submitted the proposal and will administer the award. The principal investigators on the grant are Anita Weiss, professor and department head for international studies; and Jeffrey Hanes, sssociate professor of history and director of the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies.

The award is intended to promote curricular and professional development at KIU in the fields of environmental studies, business management, local entrepreneurial and sustainable development.

Weiss, an internationally-known expert on Pakistan, sees the partnership with KIU as an important capacity-building exercise in the region.

“KIU is concerned that so many of its graduates become job-seekers and leave the area,” said Weiss. “Our KIU colleagues are anxious to equip their graduates with the skill sets necessary to mobilize their communities by promoting local entrepreneurship and acting to preserve the regional culture and environment. The partnership aims to move them toward this goal by encouraging curricular innovations designed to spur environmental and business sustainability.”

The program will involve a series of faculty exchanges over the three-year duration of the grant, with the first wave of KIU faculty-in-residence arriving at the UO in spring 2014 to work with faculty mentors and professional development partners.

In the summer, UO faculty will travel to the beautiful Gilgit-Baltistan region, where the Hindu Kush meets the Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges, to work on curricular and research projects with their KIU colleagues and tap the rich cultural and ecological resources of the region.

Vice Provost for International Affairs Dennis Galvan sees the grant award as a significant recognition of the UO’s growing global standing and as an opportunity for the university to play a key role in relationship-building between the U.S. and the South Asia region.

“It is exciting to have the endorsement of the U.S. Department of State for our expertise in this region of the world,” said Galvan. “This partnership will raise the profile of the UO as an internationally embedded institution with a focus on social entrepreneurship.”

Among the many goals envisioned for the grant are the creation at KIU of a Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies, an English Institute to assist faculty in international dissemination of their research, a teaching effectiveness program and a local business internship program.

“This award attests to the growing strength and visibility of South Asian Studies at the University of Oregon, as well as to the university’s growing international reputation,” Hanes said. “UO faculty will have the opportunity to launch joint curricular and research projects with their KIU colleagues in environmental studies, ecotourism, local business creation and sports marketing—projects that promise to spur exciting new initiatives at the UO and to make a profound impact on local development in northern Pakistan.”

The participating entities from UO – in addition to the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies and the Office of International Affairs – are the International Studies Department, Environmental Studies Program, the Lundquist College of Business (including the Center for Entrepreneurship and Warsaw Sports Marketing), Teaching Effectiveness Program (TEP) and American English Institute (AEI).

- from the UO Office of International Affairs