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November 20, 2012 Special IIE.Interactive
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Following on the heels of President Obama’s historic trip to Myanmar this week and his stated commitment to advance education, the Institute of International Education is pleased to announce the launch of an Institute-wide initiative involving the participation of nine U.S. higher education institutions in a strategic planning process for developing institutional partnerships with universities in Myanmar and to assist in rebuilding higher education capacity in the country. 

The nine U.S. colleges and universities that will be part of the 2012 Myanmar initiative of the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP) are: American University, Arizona State University, Ball State University, Hawaii Pacific University, Northern Illinois University, Northern Arizona University, Samford University, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and University of Washington.

IIE’s Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education, which administers IAPP, selected the nine schools based on successful applications that outlined their strong ability to develop linkages with institutions in Myanmar and their interest in providing capacity building services. 

In contrast to previous IAPP programs on Brazil, China and India, the institutions selected for IAPP Myanmar have fairly significant experience with the country, whether through diaspora students and faculty on their campuses or through previous work in the country, and the initiative is broader in scope than the previous partnership programs.

Over the next six months, the initiative will take a multi-pronged approach aimed at helping each institution build partnerships with institutions in Myanmar, while also helping the country rebuild its higher education capacity: 
  • Bi-national Conference Calls: The initiative will include a series of bi-national conference calls in December about higher education in Myanmar. Higher education institutions will be invited to join the calls.
  • University Delegation to Myanmar: Also part of the initiative is a partnership-focused delegation that will head to Myanmar in February 2013, led by IIE president and CEO, Allan Goodman. U.S. university faculty and administrators will be part of this weeklong capacity-building mission. While in Myanmar, the IIE-led delegation will hold public workshops at a number of universities in Yangon and Mandalay open to anyone interested in learning from the U.S. representatives as they lecture on topics such as accreditation, quality assurance, faculty development, student learning, partnerships, and other critical subjects.
  • Report on Higher Education Needs in Myanmar: During the delegation, IIE will also hold closed "listening" sessions, open only to Myanmar university representatives to talk with the U.S. delegation about their specific needs and priorities. The findings of the delegation will then be highlighted in a report on the higher education needs in Myanmar.
An advisory board consisting of several distinguished experts will play a key role in guiding the Myanmar Initiative. The board members include Priscilla Clapp, retired Minister-Counselor, U.S. Foreign Service and Senior Advisor at the Asia Society, Suzanne DiMaggio, Vice President, Global Policy Programs with the Asia Society, Zachary Klim, associate director of Academic Initiatives and Global Programs, New York University and Robert Rotberg, former Director of the Program on Intrastate Conflict (1999-2010) at John F. Kennedy School of Government Harvard University and former President Emeritus, World Peace Foundation.

The launch of the 2012 IAPP Myanmar program marks the Center’s first Special Partnership Initiative, which entails an adjusted program focus for countries in transition or emerging from recent conflict, and acknowledges a different set of expectations with which institutions need to enter partnerships. 

While the end goal of all partnerships should be mutual benefit, equal exchange of students and faculty, and other reciprocal activities, this initiative recognizes that higher education institutions in Myanmar first need assistance in rebuilding before embarking upon the type of institutional partnerships seen with Brazilian, Indian, or Chinese institutions.

Through face-to-face contact, training workshops, and public forums, the IAPP Myanmar program aims to foster similar partnership activities, in addition to sharing practical skills that will contribute to the reconstruction of what was once considered one of Asia’s stronger higher education systems. 

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