Welcome from the Dean
It’s spring break 2016 and I’m writing from Juba, the capital of the world’s newest nation. I’m here with a group of IU School of Education faculty working with our colleagues at the University of Juba to develop a master’s degree program in education, a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
In the weeks leading to our journey here, several incidents of renewed violence occurred and the country’s ceasefire seemed at risk. While I was confident that the security of our team would be assured, I was troubled by the accounts of the cruel and violent acts that had been reported. I was also concerned that ongoing political instability would threaten progress toward achieving an enduring peace. Upon arrival, I was immediately reminded, as I had been on previous visits here, of the importance of our assistance in promoting educational development and that our presence symbolized a commitment to those who are working toward peace and building a prosperous nation in South Sudan. I knew that our being there was the right thing to do.
Some have questioned whether we should invest our time and energy to improve education in places like South Sudan when we face so many of our own educational problems that deserve attention. Of course, I have heard such comments before, and I see the point being made. I believe that this is not an “either/or” but rather a “both/and” situation. We cannot and should not choose between focusing on international education work and addressing the educational needs that exist closer to home. In an increasingly interdependent world, to do so would be to ignore our responsibility to communities that extend far beyond the U.S. or Indiana borders.
As part of a world-class university and as a public institution entrusted to serve its citizens, we must focus both locally and globally. Our commitment to these dual aims, even during this time of transition for the School, has not wavered. In the Spring 2016 edition of Chalkboard, you will read about the myriad ways that we are helping to improve conditions in schools, create and disseminate programs to transform how teaching and learning occur, promote educational equity and access for all students, and engage in forms of inquiry to illuminate the enduring dilemmas that we face in the field of education whether they occur in our own backyard or on the other side of the planet.
Terrence C. Mason
Interim University Dean, IU School of Education