5 WKU faculty members selected for 2018 program to Cuba

Five WKU faculty members have been selected to participate in the fifth Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar (ZSEIFS).

As a comprehensive internationalization strategy, the ZSEIFS is designed to strategically infuse international content into the teaching, research and service of its participants. It is made possible by the generous support of the Zuheir Sofia Endowment and by participants’ academic departments and colleges.

Faculty members selected for the 2018 ZSEIFS to Cuba are: Jim Kanan, Sociology; Anna Patsfall, Theatre and Dance; Julie Shadoan, Professional Studies (Paralegal Studies); Francesca Sunkin, Modern Languages; and Paula Upright, Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport.

Led by faculty leader Dr. Andrew McMichael, History, the ZSEIFS brings together faculty from different disciplines to both collectively and individually investigate a target country for a full semester. This interdisciplinary approach enables faculty to forge connections across disciplines, providing a richer and more nuanced exploration of the target country.

The ZSEIFS culminates in a multi-week in-country experience where participants will meet with representatives from various local nonprofits and NGOs, connect with counterparts at different Cuban universities, and visit key cultural and historical sites signature to Cuba. Upon their return to WKU, participants will infuse their newly gained knowledge into their respective areas of scholarship and teaching.

Since its debut in the spring of 2014, over 30 WKU faculty have faculty participated in the ZSEIFS and have used it to:

  • Pursue extramural grants/funding/fellowships (e.g., NSF, Fulbright) for projects related to/stemming from ZSEIFS
  • Produce individual and joint publications with target country scholars
  • Develop new faculty-led education abroad programs to the ZSEIFS host country
  • Present research at professional conferences
  • Produce new creative works (art work, creative non-fiction)
  • Expand upon or initiate new lines of research
  • Enhance over 50 courses with new international content

One of this year’s participants, Dr. Paula Upright, saw Cuba as an opportunity to advance her international experience and bring this new knowledge back to her students.

“I am excited to be a part of the IYO ZSEIFS to Cuba. This seminar provides me the chance to internationalize the sport management curricula at WKU and my own scholarship as it relates to relevant issues in sport,” Dr. Upright said.

“It is important for students to understand the international and interdisciplinary aspects of sport, and the similarities and differences in sport across cultures. An examination of sport in the Cuban culture, considering the different social and political climates, can contribute to a better overall understanding of the global impact of sport.”

With the ZSEIFS as a precursor to the successive International Year of Cuba (IYO) during the 2018-19 academic year, faculty participants will contribute to the IYO’s calendar of events and serve as a resource for those looking to add Cuban content to their courses or programs.

Following the International Year of Cuba and the subsequent year named the IYO Revisited in 2019-20, WKU will celebrate Kenya. Led by faculty leader Dr. Nancy Rice, Biology, the ZSEIFS to Kenya will take place in summer 2020 with applications for this program opening in August 2019.

The Zuheir Sofia Endowment was created to facilitate the mission of the Office of International Programs, which endeavors to provide leadership in the development of a strong international profile. Zuheir Sofia, a 1969 WKU graduate and 2014 Honorary Doctorate recipient, is chairman, president and CEO of Business Bank of Florida Corp.

About the Office of International Programs: The Office of International Programs supports the internationalization agenda of the university by creating opportunities for faculty and staff development in a global context and supporting the development of meaningful co-curricular programming for student, campus and community audiences.

Contact: Anna Yacavone, (270) 745-3975

Posted with permission from WKU News