Entering a Third Decade: Ahfad University for Women-Iowa State University Sustainable Linkage Model

Article excerpt


Launched in 1983, the Ahfad University for Women (AUW)--Iowa State University (ISU) Linkage enters its third decade as an educational and humanitarian collaboration addressing curriculum, research, outreach, and faculty development. As an equity model of collaboration and reciprocity, it focuses on shared values that are mutually beneficial and are related to each institution's mission to increase international understanding and advance program excellence, while making prominent the preparation of women as change agents. Through faculty exchanges, grants, graduate assistantships, a Fulbright Scholar Award, and shared expertise, individuals can advanced degrees, curriculum and programs are substantially enhanced, valuable research and faculty development opportunities are available in unique world settings, and improvement of the human condition is realized.



Early in 1983, Ahfad University College for Women in Omdurman, Sudan, and Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, USA, had the unusually good fortune to be invited to consider an educational and humanitarian linkage between the two institutions. Drs. Lee Burchinal and Edith Grotberg, on behalf of Ahfad University for Women (AUW), introduced the idea of institutional cooperation to Dr. Donna Cowan, Associate Dean and Coordinator of International Affairs, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Iowa State University.

At Ahfad, Dr. Burchinal was teaching classes in statistics and in social research methods and directing student research projects. Dr. Grotberg was teaching and conducting research in psychology and early childhood development. They served as liaisons with Professor Cowan, and together they explored the prospective benefits of collaborating in areas of mutual interest. The idea of a linkage project between ISU and AUW came just at the time when ISU was seeking to 'internationalize' programs across its colleges and to further research and faculty development in the global arena.

Ahfad University College for Women, under the leadership of Professor Yusuf Badri, Chairman, Board of Trustees, and Dr. Gasim Badri, Principal, was interested in evaluating and enhancing its curriculum and in assisting faculty members to pursue post graduate education. With this combination of interests, AUW and ISU established and have maintained a continuing working relationship for the benefit of both institutions as well as the citizens of their respective countries.


By July of 1983, Iowa State University and the Ahfad University College for Women, later to become Ahfad University for Women (AUW), had entered into a five-year Memorandum of Understanding based on partner commitments to reciprocal contributions related to teaching, research, extension, and faculty development, endorsed by Robert Parks, ISU President, and George Christensen, ISU Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Gasim Badri, AUW Principal. Initially, AUW participating units were the School of Family Sciences and Community Extension and the School of Psychology and Pre-school Education. ISU primary units were the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, chaired by Gerald Konglan, in the College of Sciences and Humanities.

At the time, no linkages existed between an American university and any Sudanese institution in the social sciences. Even professional contacts between the two countries were limited; Sudanese faculty members and students seeking advanced degrees seldom came to the United States, and few American scholars did professional work in Sudan. The partnership was a unique affiliation bringing together a small, four-year, independent, private college for

The Ahfad Journal Vol. 21. No. 2 December 2004 women in an African, Muslim-oriented society, offering baccalaureate degrees, with a large, public, co-educational, land grant institution offering baccalaureate through doctorate programs located in the Western world. …