Two faculty from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, Dr. Miro Haček and Dr. Simona Kukovič, visited Black Hills State University recently to discuss further partnership opportunities with the BHSU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.
Haček and Kukovič met with Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., President of BHSU, Dr. Chris Crawford, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Sharman Adams, dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and Dr. Trenton Ellis, assistant professor of human services.
The faculty members also visited with Justin Logue, BHSU student senate president, who plans to study abroad at the University of Ljubljana next fall. He will be the second BHSU student to study under this partnership.
Haček and Kukovič also visited the nearby communities of Lead and Deadwood as part of a joint research project with BHSU.
“We are evaluating rural South Dakota communities with rural Slovenian communities’ youth out-migration,” says Ellis, who is partnering with Haček and Kukovič on this project. “We will compare how these international communities are responding, what they are doing to sustain their populations and become more resilient to further out-migration.”
The demographics of a young, European country like Slovenia make this partnership specifically strong.
“In Slovenia, as the country has urbanized, rural communities have had experiences that are similar to rural communities in the U.S.—especially those communities that are remote and agriculturally-based,” says Ellis. “This is a sustainability issue, and we are looking at how to keep these communities socially sustainable.”
Haček also delivered a lecture to students and faculty, addressing Slovenia’s road to nation building and attainting European Union membership since its independence in 1991.
Faculty members also discussed plans to seek a Fulbright Scholar and Residence Program grant. This federally funded grant program would allow a faculty member from the University of Ljubljana to live and teach at BHSU for two semesters.
“This would allow a member of Ljubljana’s faculty to teach courses, advise students, and do research and community outreach at BHSU,” says Ellis. “We really want to provide opportunities in our rural community to connect our students with the world. A great way to do that is to bring the world here.”
BHSU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the College of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana in 2012; this partnership established opportunities for student and faculty exchange, as well as research collaboration.
BHSU Office of International Relations and Global Engagement recently renewed the MOU agreement with University of Ljubljana, establishing the partnership for another five years.