USF Hosts Caribbean Teachers in Democracy Education Effort

First For USF; Program Made Possible Through U.S. State Department Grant



TAMPA, Fla. (July 1, 2009) Thirty-seven teachers from Haiti and the Dominican Republic will spend the next six weeks  at the University of South Florida in a collaboration with the U.S. State Department to foster the teaching of democracy in the Caribbean.


Seventeen teachers from Haiti and 20 teachers from the Dominican Republic are on campus until August 3 participating in the workshop, Towards Democracy and Diversity: Increasing the Content Knowledge and Pedagogical Skills of Caribbean Social Studies Educators. The program - organized by the Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions and USF’s College of Education - is designed to provide the teachers with the knowledge and teaching skills to advance social studies classes in their home countries.


During their time at USF, the teachers will have the opportunity to engage in rigorous intellectual inquiry, including reading, reflection, discussion, and curriculum development.  The educators – who teach at all levels and hail from a mix of urban and rural schools - will interact with guest lecturers and American teachers to share experiences and strategies in the teaching of democracy and diversity. Throughout the workshop training, the teachers also will work on developing teaching materials for their unique classrooms, enhance their English skills, and develop leadership abilities to promote educational and social reform in their home countries.


The project is the first of its kind for USF and is funded through a $340,000 grant from the U.S. State Department to USF College of Education professor Barbara Cruz, an expert in global and multicultural perspectives in education, and Mark Amen, a professor in USF’s Department of Government and International Affairs who is an expert in globalization and serves as the Patel Center’s academic director.


“We envision that this program will not only foster the teaching of democracy in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but that we will also learn from the Caribbean educators participating in the workshop,” Cruz said.


The teachers arrived on campus Monday and will join in this weekend’s Fourth of July festivities with a visit to Temple Terrace’s fireworks show on Saturday evening. The teachers will conclude the seminar with a three-day trip to Washington D.C.


“We hope the teachers will return to their countries with new teaching techniques they can use in their own classrooms and with a new understanding of the many ways in which democratic processes can work within the historical and cultural practices unique to the United States, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic,” Amen said.


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.