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Since the end of Liberia’s civil war in 2003, the West African country has entered a period of re-development with the assistance of many governments, multilateral organizations and NGOs.
In 2009, Academics without Borders Canada established a partnership with the University of Liberia to assist in its recovery. During the civil war, the university, the oldest degree-granting institution in West Africa, suffered greatly, when its infrastructure was destroyed and most of its staff were killed or forced to leave Liberia.
Since then, AWBC has sent 14 volunteers to the University of Liberia, and they have completed 8 projects.
Re-building the University of Liberia is one of the keys in assisting Liberia to develop.
AWBC’s first project at the University of Liberia involved two volunteers, John Waterhouse and Michael Keating, who served as consultants to Dr. Emmet Dennis, president of the University of Liberia in Monrovia. At Dr. Dennis’ request, they provided him with five-year and senior management plans and a program for visiting academics for the University.
John Waterhouse Ph.D. (University of Washington) is chair of the AWBC Board and the former Vice-President – Academic at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Michael Keating is the Senior Fellow and associate director at the McCormack Graduate School’s Center for Democracy and Development at the University of Massachusetts in Boston
II. Information Technology Assessment (January 2010)
A key element in any properly functioning university today is a well-equipped and well-run system of information technology. The University of Liberia is lacking such a system. Dr. Dennis requested that AWBC provide him with a plan for developing the University of Liberia’s system of information technology. AWBC sent James Cranston to assess the IT needs of the University of Liberia. He submitted a report to the president for implementation when funding becomes available.
James Cranston M.B.A. (Queen’s University) was the Chief Information Officer at Simon Fraser University
III. Science Workshop (June 2010)
Many universities in developing countries cannot afford to purchase laboratory equipment or train personnel to look after the equipment. This project demonstrated to the science faculty at the University of Liberia how scientific experiments can be carried out using local material. This enabled them to mount demonstration experiments in teaching their science courses at the University and to show their students how they could do experiments using the locally sourced chemicals and equipment.
This program ranks extremely high among the most cost-effective and beneficial programs with which I have been associated. We thank you so much. – Dr. Emmet Dennis, President, University of Liberia
Adam Cohen Ph.D.s (Cambridge and Stanford) is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and of Physics at Harvard University
Ben Rapoport M.A. (Harvard) and MSc (M.I.T.) is a Harvard Medical Student and a graduate student in Computing Science at M.I.T.
Elizabeth Wood M.Sc. (M.I.T.) is a doctoral student in Environmental Engineering at M.I.T.
IV. Train the Trainers I (June – July 2011)
Considering how devastated Liberia’s infrastructure was as a result of the war, … it is not surprising that students entering college do not have the fundamental skills necessary to be successful … Developing basic mathematics and English skills is vital to create a large pool of domestic talent with the academic capacity to become excellent primary and secondary teachers and to be qualified to enter the graduate programs that are being strengthened by Liberian institutions and international organizations.— Conzolo Migliozzi
To close the gap, Dr. Dennis asked AWBC to assist the University of Liberia to improve the remedial courses in mathematics and English offered to in-coming students. This involved upgrading the teaching skills of the University of Liberia faculty who teach these subjects. The goal was to re-establish the university’s remedial program and support student-led initiatives for a tutoring centre.
AWBC’s volunteers, Conzolo Migliozzi and Kara Migliozzi, co-facilitated the teacher training. Judd Shearer, a graduate student at the New School of Social Reaserch in New York City, assisted. The focus was on pedagogy, classroom management and assessment. The project had three aims: train mathematics and English faculty in remedial teaching methodology; work with faculty to identify topics to be taught in the remedial courses; lay the logistical foundation for a permanent tutoring centre.
Conzolo Migliozzi, M.A. (University of Massachusetts, Boston), is a teacher in Project Enable at North Shore Community College, Lynn, MA
Kara Migliozzi, M.Ed. (Salem State University), is a health educator for Peabody Public Schools in Massachusetts
V. Course: Development in Economics (July 2011)
At the request of the Dean of the University of Liberia’s Business College, AWBC assigned a volunteer, Arch Ritter, to teach two courses in Economics, one in African Economic Development for students, the other a seminar for faculty in research methodology in developmental economics. The first course was designed to be a model and, given its success, will continue to be taught by regular faculty.
I extend to you and colleagues at AWBC thanks for the support extended to the Department of Economics and the University of Liberia at large last summer. We very much appreciate the lectures by Arch Ritter. Our students overwhelmingly expressed satisfaction with the knowledge shared with them … The course, African Economic Development, has already been incorporated into our Development Economics course beginning this academic semester.– Geegbae G. Geegbae, Dean, College of Business and Public Administration
Arch Ritter, Ph.D., (University of Texas at Austin), is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, Department of Economics and School of International Affairs, at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.
VI. Train the Trainers II (June – July 2012)
The University of Liberia faculty members, who participated in the summer 2011 project to upgrade their teaching skills, found the programme so rewarding that they requested it be continued the following summer with content workshops on mathematics and English, which would incorporate teaching methods targeted to these two disciplines. To fulfill the request AWBC sent three volunteers to the University in the summer of 2012, Ree Migliozzi, Maryan Koehler and Emmett C. Dennis. Migliozzi and Dennis are specialists in the teaching of mathematics and Koehler in the teaching of English to university students.
Ree Migliozzi, M.A., (Western New England College), is an Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, MA
Maryan Koehler, Ed.D., (Durham University), is an Associate in the American Language Program at Columbia University in New York City
Emmett C. Dennis, Ph.D., (University of New Orleans), is an Associate Professor of Mathematics in Department of Mathematics at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut
VII. Computer Literacy (June – July 2012)
Because of the long and devastating civil war in Liberia, many of the faculty members at the University lack certain computer skills and the ability to fully use the Internet. In the near future, the University will be equipped with a high speed connection to the Internet and the faculty members at the University will be able to access the extensive resources that are available on the web. AWBC’s volunteer, Conzolo Migliozzi, offered two workshops. The first was for faculty members across the University. The goals of this course were to enable the participants to perform basic perform basic tasks such as opening programs, saving files, and creating folders; to write a business letter in Microsoft Word and to create a budget in Microsoft Excel. The second course was for faculty members in the Business School who teach courses that involve the use of computers to do research on-line. The objectives of the course were to enable the participants to create effective queries, analyze the results page, filter results and use advanced search; evaluate the websites’ reliability, and locate and assess the quality of free and open-source software.
Conzolo Migliozzi, M.A. (University of Massachusetts, Boston), is a teacher in Project Enable at North Shore Community College, Lynn, Massachusetts
VIII. Internet Course in International Relations (summer 2012)
If the University of Liberia were to make active use of the Internet, it could greatly increase its course offerings. It would be able to make use of the many courses on-line, but could also tie into courses that are offered at other universities, integrating the University of Liberia students into these courses. Michael Keating, AWBC’s volunteer, teaches a course at the University of Massachusetts, Boston on International Relations. The goal of the project was to determine whether on-line tools could be used effectively to bring University of Liberia students into a North American classroom. The ultimate goal is to add this and similar courses to the University of Liberia’s list of courses, thereby extending and improving the courses that it offers.
Michael Keating is the Senior Fellow and Associate Director at the McCormack Graduate School’s Center for Democracy and Development at the University of Massachusetts in Boston
The projects at the University of Liberia were funded by the McCall – MacBain Foundation, based in Geneva, whose mission is to improve humanity through focused grants in health, education and the environment.