Serving a higher mission in Afghanistan

Author: Colleen Wilcox

Balhk For Web StoryBalkh and Notre Dame faculty/staff standing outside the Gateway of India

In 2016, Notre Dame was awarded a $1.15 million contract to help a university in Afghanistan create one of the country’s first master’s program in finance and accountancy. The partnership with Balkh University, the country’s third largest university, allowed Notre Dame faculty and staff to help design, train, deliver, and assess a new master’s degree.

During the course of the two-year grant, four residency programs were hosted in collaboration between Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, the Stayer Center for Executive Education, Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development, the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning, and Notre Dame International. The faculty development workshops explored effective learning objectives and teaching methodologies to ultimately help the faculty at Balkh build and develop their courses and materials.

“The ultimate goal is that the country of Afghanistan has more stability through education and stability through economic development and growth,” says Robin Kistler, director of non-degree programs at Stayer.

“If we achieve a fraction of that and bring some kind of advancement in business and education, we will have achieved everything we set out to do.”

Throughout the process, faculty and staff from both Notre Dame and Balkh met in Beijing, China and Mumbai, India. A location had to be agreed upon by the Ministry of Higher Education in Afghanistan. Ultimately, it was decided to host the residencies in Beijing and Mumbai, as Notre Dame already has a presence there and support from the Gateways and Centers. The final residency was held in late July of 2018 in Mumbai. 

Bf4a6994Group photo of faculty/staff who attended the final residency in Mumbai

“I think people underestimate how hard it is to work with a number of different stakeholders and partnerships as well, but we have a really dedicated group from both on and off campus,” says Melissa Paulsen, associate director of education and training programs with NDIGD.

“It makes me proud of the work that we do because it meets Notre Dame’s standard for excellence and that’s something I value as we come to the end of the project.”

The contract was provided under the University Support and Workforce Development Program, which was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It was facilitated by FHI 360 – a nonprofit human development organization in Washington, D.C. dedicated to improving lives by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions.