Students to study leadership, peace and sustainability in Costa Rica

For immediate release…
Thursday – July 18, 2013

- The Northern Kentucky University Master of Public Administration program has partnered with the school’s undergraduate program in organizational leadership to develop a joint course that will include a nine-day study abroad experience to the United Nations University of Peace in Costa Rica next spring.

The course will focus on cutting-edge concepts in leadership, peace and sustainability. It will provide students with the skills needed to lead with a new spirit of cooperation and sensitivity to global interconnectedness. In-class study will be complemented by interactive visits to relevant organizations and other field visits in the Central American nation.

Dr. Whitney McIntyre Miller is one of two professors co-teaching the course. She said as the world becomes more complicated, leadership will take on an even greater significance. “Students will learn about the importance of leadership in a world that is increasingly uncertain and that faces more challenging issues,” she said.

Students will also learn about organizations in Costa Rica that are prime examples of working to improve peace and sustainability. They will then connect this learning back to organizations in the northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region that are dealing with similar issues. “At the end of the course, students should feel empowered to make positive changes in their organizations to address some of the growing challenges we face, including peace and sustainability,” Dr. McIntyre Miller said.

According to Dr. Julie Olberding, director of the NKU MPA program, the new course will provide a new kind of study abroad opportunity.

“A number of our students have expressed interest in doing some type of study abroad, but many of them work full time and have family commitments, so it’s virtually impossible for them to participate in a traditional semester-long experience,” she said. “This class will enable them to learn in another country within the constraints of their professional and personal lives.”

Dr. Olberding said that study abroad experiences can change a student’s entire career path. She noted the positive feedback the program received after offering a month-long experience in Bangladesh a few years ago. Working with the Grameen Bank and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the students studied microfinancing programs that offer small loans with reasonable interest rates to underprivileged people to help them create small business ventures and ultimately reduce poverty in their region.

“The students – now alumni – who studied in Bangladesh have indicated that this was one of the most memorable and impactful experiences in the MPA program and even in their lives overall,” Dr. Olberding said. “I expect this new study-abroad course in Costa Rica will have similar positive outcomes.”

The Costa Rica visit will take place March 7-15, 2014. Students interested in this three-credit course must submit a separate application along with a passport and a $500 deposit. Students will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis with a final deadline of November 29. The course can serve as an elective for the General Public Administration area of the MPA program and for other areas with approval from the MPA director.


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