Collaboration with Herat University Background: Rebuilding Civil Engineering
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Collaboration with Herat University Background: Rebuilding Civil Engineering

The closing of the university in 1984 and dispersal of faculty, combined with more than two decades of war, has resulted in near-destruction of the higher education system in Afghanistan. Thus, the system needs substantial rebuilding on a number of fundamental levels, including:

Administration

Exposure to and experience with current pedagogies and higher education management practices.

Faculty

Graduate education in engineering (only one professor holds a degree beyond the bachelor's level); training in the tools of the twenty-first-century classroom environment (laboratory, computer).

Curriculum

Most up-to-date curriculum with emphasis on design issues specific to the local area, cross-cultural collaboration, equivalency with U.S. engineering school curriculum (University of Hartford); updated textbooks; and computer resources (including use of USAID's Afghans New Generation eLearning platform (ANGeL).

Partnership Progress as of August 2008

Progress for the partnership between Herat University and University of Hartford consists of:

  • Three junior faculty from HU are currently enrolled at UH, have completed their English language training, and have begun engineering coursework.

  • March 2008: Professor Keshawarz spent two weeks in Afghanistan to evaluate program progress and facilitate entry of Afghan faculty into the U.S.

  • May/June 2008: University of Hartford faculty Keshawarz, Alnajjar, and Richards:

    • spent one month in Herat doing program analysis, co-teaching courses, providing faculty development, and conducting research with partners at HU.

    • Keshawarz worked with the civil engineering department to further refine courses, encourage student-centered teaching philosophies, and conduct joint research with junior faculty.

    • Alnajjar worked to set up computer lab and mechatronics lab space and equipment, update mechatronics curriculum, and provided a faculty development workshop on assessment.

    • Richards worked with the engineering instructors teaching English and with HU English Literature department to evaluate the program, develop course outlines and materials, and help build a service relationship between the engineering and literature departments

  • June 2008:

    • equipment for the distance learning center arrived at Herat University and was installed, along with tables for the engineering computer lab; bids are being accepted at HU for computers and other equipment for the computer lab and library.

    • a revised mechatronics curriculum was submitted to the HU department of engineering for review and approval.

  • August 2008:

    • three additional HU faculty arrived at UH to begin English-language training, in preparation for engineering coursework.

    • HU faculty attended a presentation by the UH Dean of College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture that explored possible engineering applications and opportunities for Herat province and Afghanistan.

    • UH and HU faculty, representatives from UH administration, and World Bank representative met at UH to evaluate project progress.