Global Partnerships

January 16, 2023
castle on a hillside
Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. (Photo by Scott E. Tedmon-Jones)

Strong connections with universities and organizations the world over improve research, curriculum and understanding. 

By Micaela Myers 

Center for Global Studies

In a historic home in the Scottish Highlands, an argument of sorts broke out between UW College of Law Professor Darrell Jackson and UW Art Museum Director Nicole Crawford about how museums historically obtained cultural artifacts. That discussion led to an impressive partnership between the two titled “Stealing Culture.” In the years since, Jackson and Crawford have been working with museums to repatriate selected cultural items and developed a study abroad course around the subject (read more on page 20). This type of interdisciplinary partnership is exactly what UW Center for Global Studies Director Caroline McCracken-Flesher had in mind when she developed the UW in Scotland program. The Center for Global Studies works to build international relations and fund global projects for UW faculty and students.

“University faculty have the responsibility to keep learning and building new knowledge and opportunity for our students and for Wyoming,” she says. “One way to boost that opportunity is to engage our faculty abroad and build faculty networks.”

UW in Scotland began less than a decade ago, with the support of visionary donors. It takes 12-16 faculty from across the disciplines to Scotland every five years.

“We’ve found that that leads to the most remarkable conversations and projects moving forward,” McCracken-Flesher says. “Faculty cohorts go on to form interdisciplinary projects, to conduct research and to lead education abroad courses. Students learn to think outward from experience and to pursue cross-disciplinary and new strategies to understand the unexpected.”

This January, the center launched a similar program in Jerusalem, and they hope to expand to other countries as well.

The Center for Global Studies also offers grants for student and faculty international research. Those funded then share their work with Wyoming via programs such as the Centennial Speaker Series and International Education Week.

One of the center’s important funding sources is the Harris International Research Endowment, which supports students’ international research around sustainable development and natural resources, applied economics, and rural and community development.

“It’s a pleasure to support international research at UW,” says Martha Harris, the fund’s donor. “What a wonderful way to open ourselves to the world and develop skills of analysis, empathy and resilience.” 

Global Perspectives

In the College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources, globalization efforts are supported by a generous donor via the Global Perspectives program. Seed grants, managed through the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station, help faculty and programs create international partnerships.

“The hope for this fund is to increase scholarship and grant opportunities for faculty within the cooperating universities that will enhance agriculture research projects, which will lead to a more productive, sustainable and profitable agriculture production,” says Associate Dean Eric Webster, who also directs the experiment station.

In the past seven years, the Global Perspectives fund has been used to support research projects in Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belize, China, Guatemala, Italy, Kosovo, New Zealand, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, Serbia, southern Africa, Uganda, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

“This has allowed our faculty at UW to gain an international presence and expertise and enhanced the visibility of UW across the globe,” Webster says. “Research projects include plant and animal pathogens, animal production on rangelands, soil health, the impact of university life on young adults and many others. The Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station encourages our faculty to develop these relationships, and we will continue to support these endeavors financially.”

two people looking at books on a table
Cardiff University researchers Julia Thomas, Alison Harvey and Marcus Holscher visit the American Heritage Center as part of a collaborative digital humanities project. (Photo by Isadora Helfgott)

Cardiff University Partnership

Thanks to strong relationships built by UW President Ed Seidel and School of Computing Director Gabrielle Allen, UW has developed a strategic partnership with Cardiff University in Wales to cultivate academic and cultural interchange between the two institutions. One area of strength Cardiff brings to the table is software engineering.

In 2021, the partnership kicked off in Wyoming with a software development project in conjunction with a local corporation and the state’s community colleges.

“This partnership with external partners such as Cardiff, Wyoming community colleges and industry is an example of the type of program that can make a real difference in workforce and economic development in the state,” Seidel says.

The partnership and expanding software engineering curriculum will help Wyoming prepare residents to participate in the 21st century workforce and diversify the state’s economy.

“This partnership, like our other global initiatives, brings the teaching and research happening at UW into conversation with groundbreaking work being done around the world, increasing the scope and impact of the work,” says Vice Provost for Global Engagement Isadora Helfgott. “It gives students opportunities for impactful study abroad experiences, allowing them to see higher education from a different cultural and intellectual perspective. And it gives them a broader experience within their chosen field. Wyoming and Wales also share a number of key economic attributes, including transitioning economies, and we are looking to see how we might build economic ties between the two places.”

Faculty at the two institutions are collaborating in a number of ways. For example, Helfgott and American Heritage Center Director Paul Flesher, together with English and computer science faculty at Cardiff, received a digital humanities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to develop computer vision tools to analyze large quantities of digitized book illustrations, focusing on identifying themes about place and identity in both Wyoming and Wales.

Flesher says, “Teaching artificial intelligence software to recognize images and their elements provides new ways of investigating trans-Atlantic cross-cultural impact, placing holdings in the AHC’s Toppan Rare Books Library in conversation with works at Cardiff University, as well as volumes in the British Library and Lambeth Palace.”

Helfgott says that this strategic partnership with Cardiff enabled the connections that led to the grant and is “just one example of how global partners can expand capacity for external research funding and research projects that push disciplinary boundaries — in this case bringing together humanities and computing research methodologies.”

photo of a man
Guthrie Endowed Chair of Banking and Financial Services Ali Nejadmalayeri.

International Leaders in Blockchain

Blockchain — one word for a complex technology that may be the way of the future. Simply put, blockchain is a digital record of transactions, where each transaction added to the chain is immutable and validated by multiple computers. Blockchain technology enables cryptocurrencies and digital assets but also has many other uses, such as supply chain management and payment systems. Many large companies already use the technology, but blockchain and cryptocurrencies are becoming much more ubiquitous in our everyday life.

In recent years, Wyoming passed groundbreaking legislation to create a regulatory environment to foster the growth of blockchain applications and to diversify the economy. UW is helping lead the way with global expertise, including Ali Nejadmalayeri, the Guthrie Endowed Chair of Banking and Financial Services. His expertise in network economics, credit risk and corporate finance led to Nejadmalayeri being tapped to serve as co-chair of the global Decentralized Treasury Working Group of the Blockchain Governance Initiative Network (BGIN). The group aims to provide a platform for blockchain stakeholders to deepen common understanding and to collaborate to address issues in the sustainable development of blockchain.

Already this year, Nejadmalayeri presented at BGIN conferences in Zurich and Vancouver.

“Our expertise at UW is shaping up the global conversations on business applications and policy guidelines of blockchain technology,” he says. “The proof is in the pudding. A close look at the speakers and sponsors of the Zurich conference shows a roster of who-is-who of central banking, stablecoins, blockchain legislation, cybersecurity and cryptography. I believe we can safely say that UW students have access to a unique wealth of information that is unmatched in all our peer and aspirant schools.” 

In Good Company

UW and several top schools are part of a $35 million euro grant with the Free University of Berlin. The efforts are led by Jean Garrison and Stephanie Anderson of the UW School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies and Free University of Berlin faculty Tanja Borzel and Thomas Risse, and the two universities have enjoyed close relations, including student exchange and faculty research collaboration.

“Over the past two years, UW has been a partner, along with Berkeley, Princeton and Stanford, in a major international research project on the quality of democracy around the world, spearheaded by Borzel and Risse and funded by the German government’s Cluster of Excellence grant,” Anderson explains. “UW and Berlin have co-hosted several workshops on the subject, several faculty members have been invited to Berlin to discuss their research on the subject, and a book project is in the works. Moreover, this partnership has also resulted in public talks in Wyoming, such as this September’s presentation on Putin’s wars.”

group of people posing in front of a wall mural
EducationUSA advisors visit Laramie’s murals.

Education USA

When international students consider studying abroad, they often start by contacting EducationUSA advisers in their home countries. These advisers, based in places such as U.S. embassies and consulates, promote all accredited U.S. higher education institutions and assist students with logistics. EducationUSA regularly calls upon partner institutions to host advisers and information sessions to expand awareness.

UW often answers the call. The university participates in webinars and welcomed advisers for in-person visits in 2019 and 2022. The advisers came from as far away as Burkina Faso, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Tanzania, Indonesia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Brazil and Chile.

“This is an opportunity for us to highlight our campus,” says Jill Johnson, director of UW’s International Students and Scholars office. “These are key decision influencers — helping students find the right fit for them. International students often know about California, New York and Texas, but they don’t really know what’s happening in other states. The advisers said we’re a hidden gem. They love UW.”

During the multi-day visits, each UW college has an opportunity to present. The advisers are also shown around campus and the area, such as Vedauwoo and UW’s observatory on Jelm Mountain.

“Having a diverse perspective in the classroom really enhances a student’s education,” Johnson says of the efforts to recruit more international students. “The international students get a lot out of this experience as well. They get to experience a different school of thought by coming to the U.S. and experiencing classes with American students — and vice versa. It’s mutually beneficial to all parties. It helps prepare all students for a global workplace.” 

Laramie International Flavor Festival

Food is an international language, something that readily draws us in, excites us and expands our horizons. Whoever you are and wherever you come from, you crave a delicious meal. Inspired by this universal calling, Laramie Main Street Alliance partnered with UW International Students and Scholars this past spring to launch the Laramie International Flavor Festival.

Approximately 20 area restaurants partnered with 80 international community members and students from more than 40 nations to create menu items inspired by their home countries. The special menus ran throughout March 28 to April 3.

“This event has so much potential to foster human connections and draw new communities to downtown Laramie to celebrate our diverse international residents and influences,” says inaugural Flavor Festival co-chair Ali Grossman, a video producer for UW Institutional Marketing. “The whole experience has been delicious. If you want to get to know your neighbors, ask about their foods and traditions.”

Stay tuned for this year’s second annual Laramie International Flavor Festival April 3–8.

people sitting at a table
UW Emeritus Professor Mike Brown (center) with Kazakh graduate students and KazNU faculty member Karlyga Myssayeva. (Photo by Cindy Price Schultz)

Kazakhstan: A Decade of Partnering

Ten years ago, Mike Brown, now a UW emeritus professor of journalism, traveled halfway across the world to develop a partnership between UW and the Kazakh National University (KazNU).

“The result has been an ongoing relationship with the journalism department at KazNU,” he says. “The U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan recently recognized our cooperation as a particularly productive partnership. Our expectation is that the relationship will continue to flourish.”

Continuing the tradition, UW hosted students in the KazNU international journalism master’s degree program for their summer international internships again this year. 

“This internship was very crucial and interesting for me,” says KazNU student Ayazhan Oralbekova. “I gained a lot of useful information on various topics of communication and journalism. I’m deeply thankful for all professors for their interesting presentations.”

In addition to talks from UW faculty, the KazNU students met with UW journalism students and experienced American culture with visits to various sites and activities, including Cheyenne Frontier Days.

“The world has become a smaller place in a way because of communication forms,” says Cindy Price Schultz, department chair and associate professor. “Therefore, students need to be exposed to globalization. These visiting Kazakh students help our students learn more about the bigger picture of journalism in the world.”

Twenty-six KazNU students have interned at UW in the past decade, and UW students are now interested in studying at KazNU as well.

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