William Metheny, PhD, Assistant Dean, Graduate Medical and Dental Education, recently returned from Cali, Colombia, where he spent six weeks as a Fulbright Specialist, initiating programs at La Escuela Nacional del Deporte (the National School of Sports) designed to promote flexibility and integration within the school's curriculum.
Fulbright offers several exchange programs to promote international good will in the fields of education, culture and science and is the most widely-known exchange program in the world. Fulbright offers grants to Fulbright Scholars, who lecture and conduct research for up to a year, and to Fulbright Specialists, who serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning, and related subjects at overseas academic institutions for a period of two to six weeks.
As many UT Graduate School of Medicine physicians use vacation for international mission trips, Dr. Metheny's interest in international travel and expertise in facilitating educational programs led him to apply for the Fulbright Specialist opportunity in Colombia. Amid geopolitical socioeconomic changes in Colombia, La Escuela Nacional del Deporte administration wanted to answer Minister of Education María Fernanda Campo Saavedra's call for educative flexibility within the universities. Using the A3 approach, Dr. Metheny worked with school administrators and teachers to brainstorm and select projects to initiate, such as introducing English into the sports curriculum. Projects ranged in scope, had measurable outcomes, and were selected through consensus by individual vote.
Dr. Metheny said, "Voting in the educational setting was a bit foreign to the group. However, both administration and teachers seemed open to the idea of selecting projects through a vote because they were a part of something new that represented change. They were willing to suspend ‘business as usual.' Several teachers said this was the first time administration had ever asked their opinion."
Although Dr. Metheny has returned home, he will continue to monitor the initiated programs on a monthly basis through Skype for the next six to eight months. He said he is grateful to Dr. Humberto Rodriguez, Dr. Maricarmen Malagon-Rogers and her sister Dr. Maria Malagon for their assistance and training with the Spanish language. Dr. Metheny said the experience was very successful, rewarding and energizing, as if he'd been preparing his entire life for this moment.
January 24, 2013
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