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WATSON COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Watson College News

WCE Faculty, Ed.D. Students Participate in International Forum in Russia

Thursday, November 12, 2020

WCE faculty members Bill Sterrett and Michele Parker presented with Ed.D. graduates and current doctoral students at the International Scientific Forum “Inclusion in Universities: Global Trends and Local Strategies” in October. Tyumen State University hosted the forum with the support of the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research. Jen Fernandez-Villa, director of UNCW’s Office of International Students & Scholars, coordinated UNCW’s participation in the virtual event.

The purpose of the forum, organized by Tyumen’s resource and training center for people with special education needs, was to enhance inclusive education through transnational research, cooperation and intercultural dialogues. The forum was planned during a global pandemic that according to UNESCO, has affected more than 871.7 million children and young people in 119 countries and worsened the learning conditions for students from remote rural areas, low-income groups and students of disabilities.

More than 120 scholars participated in the two-day event. WCE presenters were:

Michele Parker and Shannon Alford, “Using Mentoring to Expand the Mobility of African American Student Affairs Professionals.” During the presentation, Parker and Alford shared research and personal stories on ways mentoring can be used to effectively support individuals. Parker is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the Watson College and Alford is a current Ed.D. candidate.

William Sterrett, Chris Gordon ’18 Ed.D and Sohail Sukhera, “Innovating and designing engaging learning applications for STEM classrooms: A collaborative effort with US and Pakistan educators focused on student engagement.” The team shared information about a recent UNCW-led IDEA-STEM grant initiative to support middle-school STEM teaching and learning in eastern Pakistan aimed at spurring economic growth and contributing to regional stability. Sterrett is associate dean for Teacher Education and Outreach at the Watson College; Gordon is an assistant professor of education at Lenoir-Rhyne University and former interim director of UNCW’s Center for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CESTEM); and Sukhera is a current Ed.D. candidate.

“Interacting with conference participants in Russia was enriching,” Parker said. “I enjoyed learning about their culture, institutional resources and being prompted to (re)consider various facets of mentoring (hierarchal nature) and how the same or different race mentoring pairs may or may not facilitate navigating challenges. The highlight for me was sharing stories that brought the research literature to life and learning about commonalities between UNCW and Tyumen State colleagues, including concerns with our workload and the need for ongoing self-care. Also, this was the first time I used the ‘translate’ feature in Zoom. Wow, what a powerful tool in bringing people together that speak different languages!”

"Research is an important part of our work in Watson. In recent years, we have focused on sharing out both inspiration and information about grants, research efforts and engaging partners in this work,” Sterrett said. “In many cases, this research work includes our UNCW students, who add great perspective and expertise to the work, and is a fantastic testament to our commitment to teaching and innovation. The International Research Conference provided a wonderful opportunity to learn from others, share insights from our own work, and envision new opportunities together."

Fernandez-Villa and Sterrett said the virtual conference was a positive first step in forging a new partnership with Tyumen State University. They are currently exploring potential research and grant collaborations among faculty and students, along with signing a Memorandum of Understanding so Russian students can study at UNCW and UNCW students have the option to study there.