Sherif Attallah

Three Ball State professors and their students – including some in the Construction Management program -- will work collaboratively with peers in Iraq in 2018, preparing them to work on an international scale.

The project is based on a $524,427 grant provided by the Stevens Initiative, which funds programs that give young people “the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to prosper in an interconnected world.”

The initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of State, is housed at the Aspen Institute, which focuses on linkages between the U.S. and the Arab world, including Northern Africa.

Ball State has been working with the Stevens Initiative for almost two years to find the best way to match Ball State science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses to the goals of the initiative.

“It aids international understanding for our students at Ball State and those in Iraq to get to know each other,” said project manager Jan Miller. “It’s powerful because it will use online, collaborative learning to increase cross-cultural understanding and equip young people with the skills needed to thrive in a 21st century economy.”

Ball State faculty Jill Bradley-Levine, an educational studies professor; Sherif Attallah, a construction management professor; and Renmei Xu, an art professor, have crafted modules to insert in their spring and fall classes.

In Iraq, Tikrit University, University of Anbar, and the University of Technology in Baghdad will participate. Ball State students will be joined by peers at Anderson University and two other Indiana institutes in the online modules. The goal is to involve one thousand students from each country in the program.

The professors involved will begin training with their Iraqi colleagues in January to be ready to use the teaching platforms involved in the spring.

“This project will provide students from Indiana and Iraq a unique opportunity to develop their intercultural understanding as they collaborate to complete a project-based learning STEM activity,” said Bradley-Levine, the principal investigator. Her modules will engage students in creating an innovative STEM curriculum for secondary students in the U.S. and Iraq.

Attallah’s modules will teach process piping and solar-related technologies as part of a springtime electrical construction class and as part of next fall’s mechanical construction class.

Xu foresees pairing up students in different countries to share design ideas and to collaborate in creating graphic communications notebooks in an introductory graphic communications course.

“Ball State is excited to receive this grant,” said Roy Weaver, interim dean of Ball State’s Teachers College. “We believe it will have a significant impact on our students because it will allow them to collaborate with international students and obtain perspectives on global issues they may encounter after graduation. Given the demand for more professionals in STEM-related fields, this grant can also help encourage students to fill those needs.”