Center for Rural Research Expands Vision for Nebraskans
Glennis Nagel
co-editor

The UNK Center for Rural Research and Development (CRRD) has expanded its vision for Nebraskans beyond the confines of the state, the region and the nation—to the world. The center has gone global.

The new direction the center is taking has been made possible, in part, through two grants -- a $165,000 U.S. Department of Education Business and International Education Grant (BIE) and a $75,000 UNK Program of Excellence grant. The BIE grant provides $80,000 the first year, $85,000 the second, and requires a $1-to-$1 match.

The BIE grant, which supports the Global Economic Gardening project, was the focus of the first in a series of Global Scholars Awareness Seminars Friday, Jan.18, in the Ockinga Conference Room.

Opening the program was Dr. Bruce Forster, dean of the College of Business and Technology, who spoke about the internationalization of the CBT offerings. Other speakers included Deborah Murray, CRRD director; Mary Rittenhouse, Center for Economic Education director;Mary Ann Lawson, CBT internship coordinator; and Carrie Stithem, an assistant in the CRRD.

According to Murray, the Program of Excellence grant provided the necessary seed money to expand the center’s reach. “It doesn’t take much money to get a program going,” she said. The funding provides staffing—a director and an assistant—along with some program support.

“The chancellor has been gracious and supportive,” she said. "Nebraska must grow regional business leaders with a global focus to become a competitive global player," Murray said. "The Global Economic gardening project is designed to change the current paradigm among our younger population, so they begin thinking about growing global entrepreneurial capacity here in Nebraska. The program adheres to the 'growyour- own' philosophy of economic development."

To begin to build awareness for the program, the Global Scholars Seminar Series will feature presentations by faculty and students to share their global experiences. The presentations will take place at noon on selected Fridays this semester in the Ockinga Conference Room.

Further, according to Rittenhouse, to encourage global entrepreneurship in the region's K-12 student population, a Web-based, podcasted international entrepreneurship curriculum with complementary lesson plans will be created and made available to the region's elementary and secondary teachers. "We plan to produce short videos that can be used to supplement the high school business curriculum, working off of the Nebraska Department of Education standards," she said. The short videos will use UNK business students. In addition, there will be a one-week camp,High School Entrepreneurs Boot Camp, on the campus in June.

For UNK students, internship opportunities will also have a global focus, Lawson said.

"We are exploring opportunities around the world, she said. Lawson has already worked with a group to make it possible for UNK students to study in Dublin, Ireland, June 2 - July 19, and three students have signed up to participate. Other study abroad opportunities include two weeks in Puebla, Mexico, in May and two weeks in South America in June.

"The internships could be the experience of a lifetime for our students," Lawson said.

The next presentation in the Global Scholars Seminar Series is set for Friday, Jan. 25. Steve Amundson, a senior lecturer in industrial technology, will speak on “Global Networking – Discovering Opportunities.”