Global Perspectives: North Park Professors Bring Nepal Experience to Campus featured image background
April 19, 2024

Global Perspectives: North Park Professors Bring Nepal Experience to Campus

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Two North Park University professors took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Nepal as part of a $35,000 federal Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students (IDEAS) grant in partnership with The GREEN Program (TGP). The professors have brought their experiences back to North Park to share with students through curriculum and conversations.

IDEAS is a U.S. Department of State venture with the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. The goal is to build interest and capacity for study abroad programs at U.S. colleges and universities. North Park used the awarded money to partner with TGP, an experiential learning program focused on sustainability. While the partnership typically attracts those in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the attending professors brought varied perspectives.

Tessa Zanoni, director of the Office of International Affairs, said the grant enables professors to share their experiences abroad with students.

“Not every student can study abroad for various reasons,” she said. “Equipping faculty with that experience and information helps them bring an international lens into the classroom to benefit students.”

Professor of Athletic Training Kelly Potteiger completed a virtual study abroad course as part of the grant, demonstrating that intercultural learning can occur in one’s home country.

Suzen Moeller, a health sciences professor, hopes to bring Nepal to the classroom through an updated curriculum.

“I teach a course on nutrition science for population health. After this trip, I expanded a unit to include a lesson where students look up dietary guidelines in other countries,” she said. “I also incorporated the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and asked students to consider how each applies to and relies on proper nutrition.”

Moeller said the trip inspired her to apply for other international fellowship programs.

According to Professor of Music Tom Zelle, trips such as this are a necessary step outside one’s comfort zone.

“At first, I wasn’t sure if I was a good fit because I’m not a STEM professor,” he said. “But sustainability challenges are human challenges and therefore present in my classroom.” Zelle has exemplified this thought process through initiatives such as making North Park’s University Orchestra the first net-zero orchestra in the country.

He spent the 13-day trip attending lectures and solar energy classes and volunteering at a health clinic.

“We don’t live in a country that questions why we separate ourselves from other cultures,” he said. “I learned how important it is to look at the same problem from different perspectives. What I do in the city of Chicago impacts what happens in the mountains of Nepal.”

A group of individuals holding a solar panel outside in yellow safety vests.

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