Two Black Hills State University professors were recently invited to give presentations at a United Nations conference in Seoul, South Korea. Dr. Len Austin and Dr. John Alsup, both associate professors in the college of education, spoke before an international audience at the World Civic Forum 2009 sponsored by United Nation’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Alsup’s presentation was titled, “Teaching Mathematics in Rural Tanzania” where he recounted his 2007 experiences as a volunteer teaching math to small children in Pommern, Tanzania-a program sponsored by Global Volunteers, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to support short-term volunteer projects throughout the world.
Austin’s presentation was titled, “Teaching People, Not Content: Using Higher Education to Develop Humanitarian Skills.” In his presentation Austin talked about various methods whereby professors can help develop students who care about global peace and about each other.
Both professors spoke to an international audience in an afternoon session titled, “Higher Education for Humane Purposes and Social Responsibility.” Both were interviewed twice for Korean television, and along with other selected guests were invited to attend Kyung Hee University’s special 60th Anniversary Celebration on the Kyung Hee campus in the opera theatre.
Austin said, “This was a great honor for us and BHSU to be represented at this conference, where only a handful of prestigious American universities were selected; like Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Arizona.” He added, “We clearly represented the best of mid-sized public comprehensive colleges in their eyes, and it is obvious that the students from Korea who attend BHSU have returned to their home university and told them that there is a sense of caring and consciousness about global peace at BHSU.”
Kyung Hee University, with an enrollment of 22,000 students, places several exchange students each semester on the BHSU campus, and seeks further collaborative experiences with BHSU as a result of the potential that BHSU and the Black Hills offers their students.
Over 3,000 worldwide participants, including the Prime Minister of South Korea and the Undersecretary of the United Nations, attended the conference whose main theme was “Building Our Humanitarian Planet.”
The WCF 2009 conference, along with Kyung Hee University, seeks collaboration between the UN and selected institutions of higher learning. The WCF aims to develop into an ongoing global organization by partnering with like-minded actors such as Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations, governments, private enterprise, and the media to provide global reflection and dialogue that will enhance future civilizations.
Alsup and Austin’s presentations helped address the UN’s international Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from the perspective of what professors can do at the individual level, and what universities can do at the higher education level to nurture world peace.