AUB partners to promote EARTH University model for experiential learning and community engagement

Office of Communications, media@aub.edu.lb​

AUB has launched a partnership with the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA) in a project to introduce EARTH University’s Key Elements of Success to three select universities in Mexico and Haiti over a period of three years between July, 2018 and June, 2021. These elements, pertaining to the EARTH University educational model, have proven over the years to be of great relevance in university education and will be introduced to strengthen experiential learning and community engagement among the select global institutions of higher learning. They consist of value-based education, experiential/participatory learning, community engagement, social entrepreneurship, ethical leadership, and decision-making. Concurrently, GCHERA will continue to work with universities across its global network to facilitate the change agenda among interested institutions. John Kennelly, president of GCHERA, welcomed the partnership with AUB and lauded AUB on its leadership and commitment to the project. He also thanked the WK Kellogg Foundation for supporting a project that will help transform university education in order to form the ethical leaders the world needs. The project is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the WK Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, Michigan, USA. 

“As a founding funder of EARTH University, we have a long history with EARTH and the mission of preparing visionary leaders for service in their home countries,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of WK Kellogg Foundation. “Our founder, Will Keith Kellogg, believed in the capacity of people to change the world around them. EARTH’s spirit and purpose is a part of Mr. Kellogg’s legacy. This new project to bring EARTH’s service learning model to students in many more countries will only widen the circle of this important work.” 

AUB’s long history in excellence, with a student and community-centered learning environment qualified it as an ideal host for the project. Since its founding in 1866, AUB has set standards in higher education and is committed to the ideals of critical thinking, open debate, and diversity. The University encourages freedom of thought and expression and seeks to graduate men and women committed to creative and critical thinking, life-long learning, personal integrity, civic responsibility, and leadership. The 2017/2018 edition of the QS Arab Region University Rankings has placed AUB in the first position among 1,000 universities in the Arab world. This is the first time that AUB holds this position.

The project will contribute to educational reform using a new participatory and service learning model that transforms today’s students into future leaders and agents of change who make a difference using integrated problem solving, entrepreneurship, environmental consciousness, ethical leadership and decision-making, and community and citizen engagement while giving service to their country and communities. Three select universities in Mexico and Haiti will prepare their graduates to have the skills and attributes to be agents of positive change, and make the institutions models to be emulated in the region and the world by incorporating at least three of the five EARTH University Key Elements of Success in one or more of their schools and departments. 

The project features institutionally-based workshops, faculty and student exchange, and learning networks. Throughout a three-year strategic change agenda, academic programs will be adapted, and evaluation frameworks established and implemented that measure achievement of project goals. AUB, in partnership with GCHERA, will coordinate the overall project activities, ensure successful implementation, and provide fiscal oversight. Participating universities will be broadly showcased to allow their success to prompt others to follow the model, adopting new curricula, developing effective community engagement policies, and revising traditional resource allocation models to better reflect accountability to community change and engagement. AUB President Fadlo Khuri noted that he anticipates that, as the first three institutions demonstrate the success of the model, others will follow, bringing changes to many GCHERA universities. ​