WMU Home > WMU News

WMU News

Faculty duo launches summer study abroad course

Dec. 18, 2008

KALAMAZOO--The role of geology in the civilization and culture of ancient and modern Egyptians is the focus of a new short-term study abroad program at Western Michigan University planned for May 1-16, 2009.

The departments of Geosciences and Foreign Languages, in collaboration with the Haenicke Institute, have developed the innovative multidisciplinary program. Called Civilization and Geology in Egypt, it meets WMU's requirements for General Education Area IV and will be offered for three credits.

The course is being team taught by Dr. Robb Gillespie, assistant professor of geosciences, and Dr. Mustafa Mughazy, associate professor of foreign languages. Geology faculty from South Valley University in Qena, Egypt, will participate in conducting portions of an included field trip, giving WMU students exposure to scientists from other cultures.

Gillespie visited several Egyptian universities with Brett Berquist, WMU executive director of international programs, to discuss collaboration on the project. Supported by a faculty grant from the Haenicke Institute, he also participated in a popular Arabic summer program led by Mughazy to learn the ins and outs of leading a study abroad program.

Particularly pleased to see the interdepartmental collaboration behind the new study abroad offering is Dr. Donald McCloud, dean of the Haenicke Institute. "The proposal builds on two areas of strength that have already brought international recognition to our university: hydrogeology research and Arabic language and culture," McCloud notes.

This fall, WMU became the first Michigan university to offer a minor in Arabic. Mughazy, the University's Arabic advisor, developed and has led a popular intensive Arabic language and culture summer program in Alexandria. His innovative teaching approach--combining standard and colloquial Arabic from the beginning level--has brought national recognition to WMU's foreign languages department, and a textbook he wrote is the most-used book in the United States for colloquial Arabic.

Gillespie's academic unit, the Department of Geosciences, is heavily involved in research activities in Egypt and ranks as the third most active among United States' universities conducting research in Egypt. The department plans to expand this research activity into a "Western Michigan University Center of Excellence in Egyptian and Middle Eastern Scientific Studies."

Faculty members interested in learning more about developing study abroad programs may contact Brett Berquist at brett.berquist@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5890. Visit wmich.edu/studyabroad for comprehensive information about the Civilization and Geology in Egypt course.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400