Global Connection: Gerontology partnership

From left, Oscar Atumah; Nassiru Eplong with NUC; UNT faculty members James Swan and Ami Moore; liaison Emem Omokaro; and UNT Dallas faculty member Iftekhar Amin visit a Nigerian market. (Photo by Keith Turner)Oscar Atumah ('13 Ph.D.) wanted to study a subject that he could bring back to his homeland of Nigeria. And in just two years, Atumah helped establish an applied gerontology program for Nigerian universities with the help of UNT's program.

"I could not ask for anything better than identifying an area that is lacking in one's home country and gaining knowledge in that area so as to go home and make improvements," Atumah says.

This summer, Atumah and faculty members from UNT's applied gerontology program, including Keith Turner, associate professor and director of the certificate program, visited Nigeria to help their peers create courses at their respective universities that can be taken to earn a UNT applied gerontology certificate. The Nigerian professors also plan to work with the Nigerian Dave Omokaro Foundation on establishing a Center for Aging and Sustainability in Nigeria.

In March, UNT and Nigeria's National Universities Commission entered a formal agreement to create Nigeria's program. Under the agreement, professors from 11 universities in Nigeria selected a total of 24 students to participate in the pilot program. The students completed their first series of hybrid courses this summer and are taking online classes from Nigeria this fall. In spring 2014, the students will come to UNT to take their final courses and the research portion of the certificate.

James Swan, associate professor of applied gerontology at UNT, says the program helps to foster research collaborations internationally, to address global issues and to increase international student recruitment.

"This educational and research collaboration is helping bring recognition to an important and meaningful issue in the U.S. and abroad," Swan says.

Atumah believes this is just the beginning.

"There's so much that UNT can do and gain from this partnership," he says.

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