Pakistan to Mason



Mason has collaborated with the University of Management and Technology in Lahore, Pakistan to have 40 faculty fellows from UMT attend academic seminars on campus.

Funded by a U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships grant, the Collaboration for Faculty Excellence in Teaching and Research initiative aims to “expand academic capacity and infuse cross-cultural knowledge and international mindedness into educational practice,” according to the initiative’s website.

Led by Mason professors Rebecca Fox and Anastasia Samaras, the initiative began in Spring 2016 bringing 20 of the 40 fellows as a part of Wave 1, or the first group of fellows.

The faculty fellows attended Mason-developed seminars for two weeks, such as Teaching with Technology, Working with Adults with Special Needs and Developing Your Teaching.

Wave 2, the second group of fellows, were on campus from Sept. 17 to Oct. 2, attending the same seminars and bringing what they learned back to UMT.

Along with attending the seminars, the fellows will be able to partner with Mason Faculty to work on joint research.

Fellow Usman Zia, who works with students with special needs, was excited to collaborate with a Mason faculty member to research the situation of students with disabilities in higher education in Pakistan and compare it to a U.S. context.

“I have seen so many students with disabilities walking around the university and in the Johnson Center having lunch and chatting with us, and I love that. This is what I want to create in my university and in my classrooms,” Zia said.

The initiative has also allowed the fellows to observe Mason professors while they teach their own classes.

Sadia Asif, who teaches English as a second language at UMT, said the new teaching skills she has learned so far are the most important lesson she will take back with her.

“The practical things I have observed in the classrooms, I’m going to apply those in my classes,” Asif said. For example, “how we can develop rubrics and make it more fair, just and objective for our students.”

This is important, because Asif’s students are not all on the same level of English fluency, which can make it difficult to evenly assess the students, she said.

“I hope to see better engagements and better interactions from my students by applying these techniques,” Asif said.

Mason faculty will also have the chance to visit Lahore in Spring 2017 for a UMT Research Conference where all participants will share their research and results from this initiative.

“I think this is a wonderful program to bring the harmony of two universities as well as between two nations,” Ijaz Yusuf, a fellow from UMT in the School of Business and Economics, said. “I think this sort of tradition must be started not only with my university but many universities and in other countries as well.”

Talha Zubair, who teaches research methodologies at UMT, noted that he sensed a difference in the Wave 1 participants after they arrived back in Pakistan.

“I hope we can do the same,” Zubair said. “We can also share the knowledge and transfer our experience here to the students in Pakistan.”