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Supporting the Dalits in India: The IOUF’s contribution through education

As one of the very few university foundations in the world focused on providing distance education for social change agents, we at the Intercultural Open University Foundation (IOUF) meet and mentor many impressive people. One of our graduates, Dr. Christopher Thomas, has the distinction of having spent considerable time working with the Dalit population in India.

You may be familiar with the term “Dalit” in connection with Mother Theresa, the tireless champion of Calcutta’s poor and oppressed “untouchable” people. She worked for many decades providing housing, healing and nourishment to those who were otherwise unwelcome in Indian society. The term “Dalit” applies to members of classes considered “untouchable” by virtue of the impurity normally associated with their traditional occupations. Dalits fall outside the four-caste system considered common in countries like India and they are often much less respected than the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras that make up most of the rest of Indian society.

Dalits today constitute approximately 17% of the population of India and they are also part of the social fabric of Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Although India’s Constitution has abolished “untouchability,” Dalits commonly face discrimination and even abuse simply because of their birth. They might be prohibited from eating with people of other castes or prevented from entering village temples. They might be prevented from using common village paths or marrying people of other castes.

In some cases, Dalit children are segregated from other children in schools and in others, Dalits are paid less than standard wages for work of the same value. The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights has a fascinating and extensive array of information about Dalit issues and when social activist and IOUF learner Christopher Thomas stepped forward to find out more about their conditions for his doctorate on Human Rights, he found much of concern.

Dr. Thomas is a writer and social worker who has written extensively in the areas of humanistic psychology, social science, philosophy and religion. He is a human rights counsellor currently resident in India, and he works for different charitable activities.

Dr. Thomas is an excellent example of the type of learner the IOUF serves best. He is highly motivated to improve conditions for a sector of the population that enjoys few champions and little comfort. He has spent substantial time “in the field” but he also has an impressive grip on the theoretical aspects of the issues he embraces as well.

Not all IOUF learners are walking in Mother Theresa’s footsteps but they all care deeply about the difference they can make with the life they’ve been given. They know that education is a key component to improving the world around them. And they have a global perspective on the work they do. If this describes you as well, we invite you to contact us today for more information on how you can live out your mission through an IOUF MA or PhD degree.

 

 
The IOUF Salutes Dr. Yoshiaki Katuka

The Intercultural Open University Foundation (IOUF) recently awarded an honorary doctorate to Dr. Yoshiaki Katuka, a Japanese scientist and inventor who developed a revolutionary hydro power plant small enough to be built inside a private home. Efforts to bring the Mobius Power Generator (MPG), to market are ongoing and the invention has been well-received, particularly given concerns over electricity that have arisen in the wake of the nuclear power plant crisis that occurred in Fukushima earlier this year.

Dr. Katuka’s career has followed an illustrious path and he has received more than 100 patents world-wide for some of his many inventions — an eco-friendly Jet Vacuum Clean System (JVCS ) and a new type of  automobile muffler among them.

He began working as an architectural designer in 1970 and in 1975 he established the Katuka Natural Science Research Institute where for many years he focused his research and development efforts on hydraulic engineering. About a decade ago, he began concentrating on issues around space engineering.

In addition to receiving an honorary doctorate from the IOUF, Dr. Katuka has been named an IOUF Professor Emeritus for his contributions to science.

The IOUF is proud to support Dr. Katuka and his work as he exemplifies the values the IOUF brings to the world stage: hard work, ingenuity, service and creative effort. Since the IOUF first entered the field of education nearly 30 years ago, we have been primarily focused on mentoring people who are making a difference in the world as they work towards the achievement of their MA and PhD degrees.

We continue to do this work because we firmly believe that education is one of the most powerful ways to make the world a better place. The more educated people become, the more able they are to help maintain vibrant economies and healthy communities. Higher education contributes to the advance of knowledge and the embrace of new concepts. It helps people think more critically so they can help move their communities past a status quo that may no longer serve their needs and on into a field where new ways of doing things create better results for all. It helps them figure out new solutions to old problems.

We carry out our work by providing online education that allows our learners to develop a customized MA or PhD program around their own areas of interest. Our faculty supervisors are all experienced educators with many years of expertise in the field of distance education and all of our graduates receive dual accreditation from the Universidad Azteca and the Universidad Central de Nicaragua, two accredited universities that are highly focused on global education and social change.

If you think you might like to become part of the IOUF circle of influencers in your own community, please contact us for more information. Your program can begin any time that is convenient for you and we still have the capacity to take on a few more learners.


 
Partnering our way to success for our learners

We've been getting a lot of inquiries lately about how our academic partnerships with the Universidad Azteca (UA) and the Universidad Central de Nicaragua (UCN) work.  Each of these institutions are accredited by their respective country's federal departments of education and they are both listed in the International Handbook of Accredited Universities that is published by the United Nations and the International Association of Universities (IAU).

The Intercultural Open University Foundation (IOUF) signed partnerships with UA and UCN a year ago to extend the academic and cultural offerings we could make to our learners. The IOUF is an international educational foundation focused on social change and we were pleased to find a fit with two other internationally-focused universities that are also intent on making the world a better place.

Under the terms of our partnership arrangement, UA and UCN review and ultimately approve the degree work our learners complete. As long as our learners meet the academic standards our partners expect, they receive diplomas from these two institutions in addition to their IOUF degree. None of our learners have ever been turned down.

We work with our learners to ensure the degree program they choose has a compatible degree program at our partner institutions. Both UA and UCN are extremely conscientious about ensuring degrees are awarded in areas in which they are accredited.

It's becoming clear that academic partnerships and online education are the future of university education and while the IOUF is fairly new to the world of academic partnerships, we have been in the business of providing online education for decades. We are leaders in the evolution of the field of education.

Case in point: Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) created a partnership to develop an online educational program just this year. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, "They will join an emerging arena in which other research universities, Stanford among them, and private ventures around the world, are trying to stake out territory."

The London School of Economics (LSE) has also marched into the academic partnership arena with enthusiasm and now offers double Masters degree programmes with:

  • Fudan University (Shanghai)
  • Hertie School of Governance, Berlin
  • National University of Singapore (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy)
  • University of Southern California (Annenberg School for Communication)

It has developed joint degree programmes with:

  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • HEC School of Management (Paris) and NYU Stern School of Business
    (New York)

Academic partnerships are not limited to prestigious universities alone, however. England's Cumbria University has developed partnerships with other academic institutions in an effort to broaden the educational experience of students and allow them to benefit from the collaborative opportunities such partnerships provide.

Canada's Wilfrid Laurier University currently has academic partnerships with 68 universities around the world.

In short, the list of educational institutions that have discovered the value of academic partnerships is lengthy and the IOUF is pleased to be sitting at the cutting edge of the future of education.

If you would like more information about how an IOUF degree will help you meet your career goals in a supportive, inspiring way, please contact us today.

We're standing by to help you succeed.

 


 
IOUF and Sustainable business

The term “sustainable business” seems to be bandied about quite frequently in the popular press these days and at the IOUF we take it as a positive sign for the future of our planet. As an educational foundation focused on social change, we fully support the concept of sustainable business and we are particularly supportive of those of our graduates who have chosen to pursue careers in this area.

The term is defined in various ways by various groups but general characteristics of a sustainable business are that:

· It has no negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy and in fact it strives to meet the triple bottom line of people, planet and profits;

· It incorporates principles of sustainability into all business  decisions;

· It supplies environmentally friendly products or services that replace existing demand for non-green products or services;

· It is greener than traditional competitors;

· It has made an enduring commitment to environmental principles in its business operations.

In essence, a sustainable business is one that meets the needs of people today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

This means reducing the environmental impact a business has by such initiatives as

· reducing the amount of greenhouse gases it produces

· reducing paper consumption by sending electronic correspondence whenever possible

· refurbishing equipment rather than replacing it entirely

· Changing production processes to eliminate waste

· Selecting non-toxic raw materials and processes

While the IOUF tends to attract learners who take the importance of sustainable business as a given in any circle, we are especially proud of the efforts graduate Bremley Lyngdoh has made in this area.

Dr. Lyngdoh is an international expert on the relationship between poverty reduction and environmental sustainability and he graduated from the IOUF in 2008 with a PhD in Sustainable Development. He is the founder and CEO of Worldview Impact and co-founder of the Global Youth Action Network. Both of these organizations have a strong reputation for working to improve both our environment and our communities.

In addition to these projects, Dr. Lyngdoh is a Fellow for the Intercultural Open University Foundation (IOUF), and he is the co-chair of the Caucus of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development Education.

If you have an interest in sustainable business and would like to work towards a PhD degree that actively incorporates your respect for our planet and its people, we invite you to contact us for more information about how we can help. We are all affected and we can each make a difference.


 
Meet Dr. Sandra Hurlong

Every organization needs strong leadership and the Intercultural Open University Foundation (IOUF) is fortunate to be able to call upon the strengths and experiences of many excellent academics and administrators in the course of our daily work. At the head of the team, is our President, Dr. Sandra Hurlong.

Dr. Hurlong began her academic career with a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. She obtained a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from The Union Institute and University, a well-respected open university specializing in distance education. The Union Institute was a pioneer in innovation in higher education and Dr. Hurlong’s stellar work led her to positions as both Assistant Dean and Professor at that university.

She has had other weighty academic appointments as well but following the 2008 death of IOUF co-founder, Dr. Jan Hakemulder, she agreed to take on the responsibility for leading the IOU Foundation onward through the new millennium.

The task was a challenging one: as soon as Dr. Hurlong assumed her post, the IOUF Board of Governors requested a detailed assessment of the Foundation’s operations, methodologies and pedagogy, and drew upon Dr. Hurlong’s expertise in distance education to set a strong new direction for the future. One of the primary results of the review was a decision to focus more extensively on doctoral and post-doctoral programs.

Dr. Hurlong’s career has been grounded in both non-traditional learning and formal academic training. She has published widely and won numerous awards and grants; she also works closely with Hextlearn's Peer Review Methodology Project. This program is supported by the European Commission and aims to enhance the reform process of Europe's higher education institutions by creating, testing, and launching e-learning assessment methods.

Dr. Hurlong also sits on the advisory board of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Group. This is a social change organization that generates interdisciplinary research while sharing information aimed at enhancing human dignity. The group develops creative educational programs and strategies, devises pilot projects, and advises governments on public planning policy.

As President of a global organization and an internationally recognized scholar in culture and continuity and the anthropology of religion, Dr. Hurlong divides her time between the IOUF’s offices in Wilmington, USA and Granada, Spain. She is an IOUF Professor of Anthropology and she also maintains active research and program work in Oaxaca, Mexico, where she focuses her energy on projects relating to intercultural communication.

Dr. Hurlong believes that cultural diversity is essential to human survival and that awareness of diversity is critical to learning. As President of IOU Foundation, she has steered a strong course towards the evolution of compassion and understanding in our world, particularly as it relates to academic achievement.

If you feel called to find out more about how the IOUF can help support your career goals and hopes for humanity, we invite you to contact us to inquire about becoming one of our learners.


 
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