By Derrick Meads
U.S. Department of State awarded the University of Kentucky a $1.7 million grant to partner with universities in the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, through the “University Partnership in Business Administration” program. The Public Affairs Sections of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar are facilitating the program to support higher education in Pakistan and to increase collaborations between U.S. and Pakistani universities.
“UK has extensive experience working with the Department of State in support of U.S. public diplomacy and international development goals, and it’s well prepared to take on the challenges of working in the border region of Pakistan,” Gary Gaffield, assistant provost for international partnerships and co-primary investigator for the partnership, said. “Although every country where we’ve worked has posed unique difficulties, the UK teams have been incredibly resilient, able to understand and adjust to conditions in the field, and, because of that, UK has an unbroken record of success. This new award enables us to continue this work and it opens new opportunities for international collaborations.”
Pakistan is struggling to compete globally. The World Economic Forum recently ranked Pakistan 124 out of 144 countries in global competitiveness. UK will help build Pakistan’s capacity to train and educate the individuals who will create opportunities and build a vibrant economy.
Through this program UK will develop a partnership with a consortium of five universities in the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province, located in the northwest of Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan.
Over the next three years, UK and the consortium universities will work together to enhance their business curriculum; increase the pedagogical and research skills of their faculty; identify measurable competencies and learning outcomes for their graduate business programs; ensure that the outcomes meet international, national and local standards; work with them to address needs in Pakistan’s labor market; and achieve regional and national development goals.
“We are strongly encouraged by the consortium’s regular meetings, its ability to reach consensus on priorities, and by the presence of faculty members with international doctorates, providing a firm basis for collaboration with UK,” Nancy Johnson, associate professor of management at UK and primary investigator for the partnerships, said.
Johnson said that creating a consortium of universities in Pakistan presents the opportunity to draw them together, begin province-wide cooperation in business education and develop business programs that complement each other yet also preserve each university’s particular strengths.
The partnership will begin with a three-day intensive workshop in Islamabad with two faculty representatives from each consortium university, who will then serve as “Tuners” on their campuses. The Tuning process is an internationally recognized method to develop, implement, and evaluate quality across multiple universities.
This process recognizes and preserves the distinctive character of each university, while identifying points of strength and opportunities for collaboration.
In addition to working in Islamabad, 10 Pakistani faculty members and graduate students will travel to UK each summer for doctoral-level research seminars in accounting, economics, finance, management and marketing.
During their stay at UK, the cohort will also participate in a workshop conducted by the UK Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT). It will be led by CELT’s Director Kathi Kern, and will cover course design, distance learning, pedagogy, classroom management and curriculum mapping. The participants will work with CELT staff to redesign one course and workshop on pedagogy that they will teach in Pakistan.
“Opportunities such as this one enable UK to forge lasting relationships that can assist us in recruiting students and increasing campus diversity, and also enhance our curriculum and teaching,” Gaffield said.
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad
The mission of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad — and the consulate generals in Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi — is to promote bilateral ties between the United States and Pakistan and to foster economic and commercial relations. Embassy activities focus on strengthening democratic institutions, promoting nonproliferation and regional stability, fighting international terrorism, combating narcotics production and trafficking and fostering expanded trade and investment.