Fairfield has been awarded $299,607 by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Higher Education for Development (HED) for a three-year grant that will integrate service learning, middle school health education, and educational technology for faculty, students, and local middle school teachers in Senegal. The University will leverage new learning technologies as appropriate for the local environment for teaching health education topics, through the Collège Universitaire Régional de Bambey (CUR-Bambey).
Three Fairfield professors share co-directorship of the grant: Dr. Winston Tellis, Stephen and Camille Schramm Chair in Information Systems and Operations Management, and Dr. Vishnu Vinekar, assistant professor in Information Systems and Operations Management, both of the Dolan School of Business; and Dr. Elizabeth Langran, assistant professor and director of the Educational Technology Program in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions.
The Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., senior vice president for academic affairs, called the grant “an exciting opening for us,” one more way in which the University is engaging with Africa, a priority for the Society of Jesus.
In January, Drs. Langran, Tellis, and Vinekar traveled to Senegal to conduct a needs assessment, in partnership with CUR-Bambey. They will develop a curriculum, consulting with the advisory board of the pilot school in Dakar. The partnership uses a “train-the-trainer” approach, inspired by former Stags basketball player Mamadou Diakhate ’08, whose senior project was a proposal to introduce computers into his boyhood school in Dakar.
The professors worked on a grant application to HED with an ultimate goal of training the local Senegalese faculty in service learning, information technology, and health education. “Given the fact that only one proposal would be funded under HED’s request for application, we are thrilled to have been chosen,” said Dr. Langran.
The project will involve several trips to Senegal by the Fairfield faculty members. “We will leave behind a self-sustaining operation that will enhance the wireless network transmission, and education infrastructure in the rural areas,” Dr. Tellis noted.