Ready for the Mzuni Delegation

10 02 2018

On Monday, an 11-person delegation from Mzuzu University (Mzuni) will be visiting Virginia Tech for a week. The purpose of their visit is to engage with students and faculty in relation to the design of a new library for Mzuni. In 2015, Mzuni lost their library, containing over 45,000 titles, to a fire caused by an electrical fault. Since then, the Mzuni Library Initiative – an effort led by Virginia Tech and supported by Radford University, local community groups, and the Malawian Education and Children’s Welfare Foundation – has shipped over 8,000 books to Mzuni for their temporary library (see the video below).

During the past year, four faculty and around 20 students in the School of Architecture + Design have developed three conceptual designs for a new Mzuni library (see the images on the front of the binders below). During their visit, the Mzuni delegation will explore each of these designs and connect with faculty across Virginia Tech who are supporting an effort to design a data analytics and visualization research+learning facility that could be located in the new library.

The students will be publicly presenting their library designs on Wednesday, February 14, from 1-3pm in the foyer to Cowgill Hall. Please consider attending this event of you would like to learn more about this project.





Dr. Walker to Speak on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Politics of Freedom

11 01 2018

On Tuesday, January 16 at 2:30pm, Dr. Corey Walker (Vice President, Dean, and Professor of Religion and Society at Virginia Union University) will be giving a public lecture entitled The Sovereignty of the Imagination: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Politics of Freedom, at the Biocomplexity Institute Auditorium at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Corey’s lecture is the first official event of Virginia Tech’s 2018 MLK Week. Dr. Corey is a core member of the VT-VUU team behind the 2018 Beloved Community Initiative Essay Contest (see the video below). This contest provides junior and senior students at high schools across Virginia with the opportunity to explore exemplars of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s notion of the Beloved Community – a community based on social and economic justice and a common love for fellow human beings. The essay submissions are due by 6pm on April 4, 2018.





The Beloved Community ‘Dream Reset’ Richmond Gathering

28 11 2017

Next week I will be taking part in a series of events and meetings in Richmond, Virginia, that will officially launch the Beloved Community Initiative. The press release below provides more details about this gathering. If you live in Richmond, please consider attending one of the four FREE public events that will be held from Dec 3-5. Please click here to register for these events.

Press Release – 11/28/2017

The School of Public and International Affairs is pleased to announce a workshop developed through the efforts of the Beloved Community Initiative (BCI). The Beloved Community ‘Dream Reset’ Richmond Gathering is a three-day event hosted in partnership with Virginia Union University and will be held at various locations in Richmond, Virginia, starting on December 3, 2017, and closing on December 5, 2017.

The working group associated with the BCI has developed the concept of “Spirals,” or holistic organizing efforts that combine broad, creative thinking and writing with input and inspiration of engagement and experience as a convenient heuristic to describe its aims for this effort. The Richmond workshop will examine community projects (engagement and experience) rooted in current understandings of social change that engage community members, students, and faculty, and seek actively to learn from them (creative thinking and writing) by means of sustained discussion (reflection).

The Virginia Tech team behind the BCI believe that as a leading academic institution, the university can serve as a wellspring of ideas for community change and strategies to secure social justice. These strategies can be developed, applied, and refined both with and in partner communities.

The Beloved Community ‘Dream Reset’ is a workshop convened by Dr. Virgil Wood and has been designed to encourage the sharing of ideas and new ways of thinking concerning social change. The planned events will explore the ongoing work in Flint, Michigan, and the educational uplift of children both physically and psychologically affected by the Flint water crisis. Additional sessions of the workshop intend to explore the following:

  • Investigate ways and means of cultivating hope as an essential resource and reservoir for encouraging community resilience by means of systematic assessment of specific community action strategies.
  • Examine and create conditions necessary to ensure environmental justice for all community residents, but particularly those suffering economically or as a consequence of social discrimination in partnership with the Flint city government and civil society organizations in that community.
  • Envision the broad political, social, and economic changes necessary to secure the moral arc identified by the concept of the Beloved Community at local, state, and national scales.

The workshop will feature presentation and commentary from the following list of speakers:

  • Marc Edwards, Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech
  • Ralph Hall, Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech
  • Chivonne Battle, Virginia Tech, BCI Task Force
  • Virgil Wood, Ridenour Faculty Fellow, Virginia Tech; Pastor Emeritus, Pond Street Baptist Church; VUU Alum, Former Dean, Northeastern University; Former ten-year working associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Christian Moore, WHY TRY Founder.
  • Owen C. Cardwell Jr., Pastor, New Canaan International Church, President and Founder, Heroes and Dreams Academy
  • Max Stephenson Jr., Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director, Institute for Policy and Governance, Virginia Tech
  • Sylvester Johnson, Assistant Vice Provost for the Humanities, Virginia Tech
  • Anne Khademian, Director, School of Public and International Affairs Virginia Tech

Additional information and registration is available at www.belovedcommunityinitiative.eventbrite.com.





Images from Study Abroad Course – Switzerland and Senegal

15 11 2017

Last week I completed a module for the Deans’ Semester on Global Challenges that began in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, then moved to Geneva, and ended in Senegal. During this module, students explored the global food challenge, paying specific attention to sustainable agricultural practices, the food-water-energy nexus, agricultural education, (mal)nutrition, and value/supply chains. After exploring these subjects, we engaged with professionals working on various aspects of the global food challenge and met with faculty and students studying agricultural systems and entrepreneurship at two universities in Senegal.

The images below provide a snapshot of the various activities we were able to undertake during this course. Click here for a Google-created video of our time at Lake Retb (the Pink Lake) in Senegal.

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Thank You Social Investors!

12 10 2017

On behalf of Jessica Agnew, I wanted to thank everyone who kindly donated money to Jessica’s BUY2THRIVE program. The positive response Jessica received from family, friends, students, faculty, and members of the general public (including one or two from the UK and Ireland) has been the most rewarding aspect of her initiative so far. In total, 147 people made a donation and the final amount raised was $16,555. This amount put Jessica in second place in the overall CGU-U Commitments Challenge, which far surpassed what we thought was possible.

Jessica will be leaving for the CGI-U meeting tomorrow, where she will present her ideas and learn about ways to enhance the impacts of her project. If you plan to attend the event, please keep an eye open for Jessica and ask her plenty of questions about the program she is developing.





Jessica Agnew Launches Buy2Thrive Initiative

6 10 2017

Please consider becoming a social investor and supporting Jessica Agnew’s BUY2THRIVE nutrition education program in Mozambique. Click on the image below to learn more.





John O. Browder

27 09 2017

Last week, a colleague, mentor, and friend Professor John O. Browder lost his battle against cancer. John has left behind a significant legacy at Virginia Tech and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on his enduring impact.

During the eight years I worked with John, I was able to witness his dedication to student learning and leadership in advancing the international aspects of our academic programs. As a mentor, John was always willing to provide honest and constructive feedback that helped many faculty at Virginia Tech navigate the tenure and promotion process. I now find myself repeating the advice I received from John to others, advice that came from his decades of experience serving on promotion and tenure committees at the school, college, and university level.

In the classroom setting, John created a relaxed and open environment, but always challenged students to continually advance their knowledge. He created a learning partnership model with our doctoral students as they co-explored theories of pedagogy and learning. With our masters students, John anchored our international development offerings. At the undergraduate level, John taught environmental ethics and addressed real problems with clients in the environmental problem solving studio.

When I arrived at Virginia Tech in 2009, John asked me to take over the international development planning studio that he created and had taught for over a decade. We later made this studio one of the two core classes that support the graduate certificate in Global Planning and International Development Studies. This certificate was created under John’s leadership in collaboration with other programs at Virginia Tech. John never went far from the studio, leading discussions on the lessons he learned from his research in the Amazon or serving on the studio’s proposal review panel. I have included a few pictures below of John in action.

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John will be dearly missed by everyone he touched. He still had much to give, especially related to helping Virginia Tech become a global land grant institution.

Thank you John for everything you gave us.