Thursday, September 3, 2015

Faculty global experiences enhance student learning

Faculty Senate Chair Grace Cheng, Ph.D., opens
the Fall 2015 Convocation program. 
Faculty Senate Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science Grace Cheng, Ph.D., spent part of her summer at a 3-week workshop for American faculty on religious diversity, conflict and peace-building in Indonesia.  

"It was an amazing opportunity to learn about the complex shifts in identity in communities across Indonesia, which is incredibly diverse linguistically, geographically and culturally," said Cheng.

The workshop was jointly organized by Gadja Mada University in Yogyakarta and the University of Hawaii’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies. Cheng was also able to visit a number of communities and civil society groups, which gave her insight into how world religions interact with local cultures, belief systems and identities.

"Although Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, Islam in Indonesia is not uniform, as I was able to observe. And neither is Christianity uniform, which is the faith of a not insignificant proportion of the population," she said.

Cheng was among a number of HPU faculty members who spent their summer abroad, interacting and learning from colleagues from around the world.
Back row, third from left is Cheng with workshop participants
and students at Pondok Pesantren Krapyak in Yogyakarta.       

"The HPU faculty’s overseas experiences and expertise in international topics really enrich the student learning experience, because we can bring what we learn back to classroom. It also is what makes us passionate for our continued study as scholars and, therefore, what we do as educators."

She said she's looking forward to sharing what she learned, back here at HPU. "The subject of the workshop will enlighten many topics in all my political science courses. In particular, what I studied will be integrated into my course on Islam and Politics."

The faculty senate is also working to enhance the student experience, she said. "We have started to move towards putting in place many different formats through which we can regularly work together on all aspects — student services, learning resources, co-curricular opportunities and more — to improve the student educational experience."

She added the students at HPU make the university special, part of the reason she enjoys teaching here.

"The student body is so diverse, with students from all over the islands, the U.S. and the world. This diversity makes teaching and learning here so much more interesting, because we get a very broad range of viewpoints from students with such a wide range of different experiences and backgrounds."

More photos from the Indonesia summer workshop participants here

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