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Reaching out across oceans: UGA-Tunisia relations expand

With the support of the UGA-Tunisia Educational Partnership, students, educators and administrators from the University of Sousse spent June 18-25 at UGA taking part in workshops on university-community relations.

Sustained interaction between academia and its community-be it a town, state or nation-is a crucial dynamic in the effectiveness of both. The transfer of knowledge between university and society can occur in many ways once the proper links are established.

The partnership, currently funded by the U.S. State Department Middle East Partnership Initiative, marks its fourth year by expanding its breadth from online learning into public service and outreach, one of UGA’s strengths and a focus of interest around the world.

“We were delighted that this delegation of Tunisian faculty members and students visited the University of Georgia,” said Art Dunning, vice president for public service and outreach. “The visit offered us a superb opportunity to share ideas about the role that faculty and students can play in enhancing community and and economic development-faculty through technical assistance, applied research and outreach programming; and students through academic service-learning projects and volunteerism.”

Sitting amidst the ruins of ancient Carthage, present-day Tunisia is a rapidly developing country. UGA has been integrally involved in recent efforts to modernize Tunisia’s higher education system, and this effort has evolved into a new phase focused on strengthening the links between higher education institutions and societal and human developmental needs.

Provost Arnett C. Mace Jr. welcomed the Tunisian delegation to Athens.  Dunning and the directors of various public service and outreach units and initiatives shared experiences ranging from small business development to a trip to the 4-H facility at Rock Eagle.

“Developing this program has been an eye-opening experience and has made me more appreciative of the impressive impact UGA is making on the community,” said Takoi Hamrita, engineering professor and director of the

“Together we had a chance to reflect on UGA efforts such as Katrina relief, the poverty initiative and various programs benefiting the local schools.  And this gave us the opportunity to explore possible strategies to strengthen ties between Tunisian universities and their communities.”

Next month a multidisciplinary group of UGA faculty and students will spend two weeks at the University of Sousse.