Ohio State's Agricultural Technical Institute has been selected to receive an Andrew Heiskell Award in Internationalizing the Community College for its Ghana Research and Education Abroad program. ATI is an entity of Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
The Heiskell Awards honor the most outstanding initiatives in international higher education among the 1,400 member campuses of the Institute of International Education. This year’s winning campuses are notable for their geographic diversity, with campuses in nine U.S. states as well as universities in Ethiopia, South Korea and Russia.
ATI’s Ghana Research and Education Abroad (GREA) program immerses associate degree-seeking students in a month-long experiential learning program in towns near Ho, Ghana, where they develop their research projects. Since the program’s start 15 years ago, 121 ATI students have traveled to small towns in Ghana to study language and culture for four weeks while practicing applied agricultural technologies using a variety of sustainable development strategies. The trip is associated with a semester-long global studies class, and students can earn three additional credit hours for the work they do in Ghana.
According to ATI professor and director Kristina M. Boone, “Our ATI faculty members designed this program to engage our students in an immersion experience in Ghana that allows them to learn about the Èwè people and culture and to exchange knowledge in agriculture with the local farmers. The students, mostly from rural Ohio, emerge from this experience as informed world citizens.”
Typically, six to 11 students take part in the Ghana program each year. GREA participants have received research grants and made dozens of presentations at university, regional and international conferences. Last year, student Gage Smith won a U.S. Department of State Gilman Award. After working in Ghana for three months, he completed his internship and started the first two 4-H programs in the Volta Region. In addition, four students earned college scholarships, and four earned undergraduate research scholarships. These student success stories have encouraged others to apply, and this year 11 students plan to study in Ghana.
The program’s founder, professor D. R. Elder, has observed that the students’ experiences of working side-by-side with local leaders and farmers have offered them opportunities to care about others, to learn from them, to share their own expertise, and to participate meaningfully in the essential work of development. ATI students who have taken part in the Ghana program have gone on to have successful careers as social workers, nurses, veterans services providers, agricultural educators, and community leaders who have links to the broader world.
IIE will present the awards at a New York City ceremony on March 16 as part of its annual Best Practices in Internationalization Conference for higher education professionals. Visit IIE’s Best Practices Resource for in-depth profiles of the 2018 Heiskell Award winners.