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April 14, 2015

QGIA-2015 banner

By: V. Renee Russell
Global Education Office
(804) 828-3636

RICHMOND, Va. (April 14, 2015)—Virginia Commonwealth University’s Global Education Office has awarded sixteen grants of up to $20,000 to projects that support the university’s global priorities to improve the recruitment and retention of international students and scholars, increase the global engagement of VCU students and faculty, and expand VCU’s global footprint through research, teaching and global engagement. 

The Quest Global Impact Award winners will be recognized at a September 2015 ceremony at VCU. Projects funded will take place during the 2015-16 academic year.

The following grants were awarded:

Collaborative Degree

Nanda Rangan, Ph.D., associate dean for international and strategic initiatives in the VCU School of Business received four collaborative degree awards. The school will partner with D.Y. Patil University in India and Jiangsu University in China to establish transfer agreements for the School of Business master’s program. In addition, VCU will launch an undergraduate business degree with Nanjing University in China, where students will complete two years of undergraduate coursework before applying to VCU for the final two years. The school will also partner with R.V. College of Engineering in India to offer final year engineering students the opportunity to pursue master’s programs at VCU.

Departmental Study Abroad

Janett Forte, MSW, LCSW, assistant clinical professor in the VCU School of Medicine, will extend an ongoing sustainable study abroad partnership between the university and Richmond-based non-profit, Midwives for Haiti. The organization works in Haiti to reduce maternal and infant mortality by training Haitian women to provide pre-natal care and life-saving skills during childbirth.

Damian Pitt, Ph.D., assistant professor and Avrum Shriar, Ph.D., associate professor in the VCU L. Douglas Wilder School for Government and Public Affairs, will offer a study abroad opportunity at the Technical University of Madrid in Spain. Students will study environmental and community health in an international context and explore how those issues can be addressed through urban and regional planning solutions.

Nanda Rangan, Ph.D., associate dean for international and strategic initiatives in the School of Business, will explore sites in Germany, France and Ireland in which to expand the university’s International Consulting Program. This intensive seven-week program allows students to provide business consulting services to real clients in the host country.

Jacqueline Smith-Mason, Ph.D., assistant dean of the VCU Honors College, will offer a study abroad opportunity to explore whether the Atlantis Project, based in the Canary Islands of Spain, might become a signature study abroad for Honors College students. Students in this program will gain international experience while becoming increasingly competitive for professional programs in the health sciences.

Global Visiting Scholar

Scott Gronert, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences, will host visiting researcher and leading astrobiologist, Michael Mautner, Ph.D., senior fellow at the University of Cantebury in New Zealand.

Lauren Ross, inaugural curator of the VCU Institute for Contemporary Art, will host visual artist and filmmaker, Nir Evron. Evron’s visit, which coincides with the ICA’s exhibition of his work, will provide students and the broader VCU community with an opportunity to learn about the history of representations of the American south in television and cinema.

Richard Godbeer, Ph.D., director of the College of Humanities and Sciences Humanities Research Center, will host three scholars as part of the “HIV/AIDS: Local, National and Global perspectives” speaker series. Scholars include Edwin Cameron, Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; Neville Hoad, associate professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin; and John Greyson, filmmaker and associate professor in the Department of Film at York University in Canada.

Virtual Global Classroom

Marianne Baernholdt, Ph.D., MPH, RN, FAAN, director of the Langston Center for Quality, Safety and Innovation and professor in the Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems in the VCU School of Nursing,will develop, implement and evaluate a joint end-of-life care curriculum for students in the United States and England. The course will be taught in a virtual classroom that will be facilitated through synchronous lectures and discussions for students in the two countries.

Susan Bodnar-Deren, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, and Dingani Mthethwa, M.A., instructor of Zulu in the College of Humanities and Sciences School of World Studieswill offer a fully online course that partners VCU students with those at VCU strategic partner, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The course will focus on issues of identity with an emphasis on history, health and education in post-apartheid South Africa and in post-civil rights Richmond.

Marcus Messner, Ph.D., associate professor at the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture, will create four connected learning courses in global health communication through the Center for Media+Health. The courses will allow VCU students to engage with external international students in open online education.

Bernard Means, Ph.D., instructor of anthropology in the College of Humanities and Sciences School of World Studies, will offer students the opportunity to partner with the archaeology department of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in India through the Virtual Curation Laboratory. VCU students will create physical examples using 3D replicas of archeological items from India, which will then be hosted by VCU and the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

Anton Brinkwirth, Ph.D., director of the College of Humanities and Sciences School of World Studies Media Center, and Allison Gregory, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, clinical assistant professor in the VCU School of Nursing, will offer a hybrid online course in Spanish language instruction for students in the health professions. VCU students will have an opportunity to telecollaborate with students abroad while building their Spanish language proficiency.

For more information about the Quest Global Impact Awards, visit