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Earlham College professor receives Fulbright to enhance use of instructional simulations in Ghana

April 16, 2020

Jennifer SeelyEarlham College Associate Professor of Politics Jennifer Seely has received a prestigious Fulbright Scholar award to study and enhance the use of instructional simulations in classrooms at Ashesi University in Ghana.

The yearlong project will begin as early fall 2020 depending on the status of travel restrictions due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Fulbright is the United States’ flagship government exchange program.

“Games and role-playing simulations can greatly improve the liberal arts experience, especially in political science classrooms,” Seely said. “While instructional simulations are used in African classrooms, they are often firmly grounded in the American educational context and would benefit from insights from the developing world.” 

One example, Seely notes, would be playing croquet — without knowing the rules – to simulate conflict between political powers across the world.  More assertive players might try to dominate others, or invent their own rules for the game, much like countries in the international system.

“Would the competition between players differ with a culturally appropriate Ghanaian game, and in the context of African social relationships?” Seely asks. “If so, an enhanced and improved version of the simulation could also help promote cross-cultural understanding when I return to the classrooms at Earlham.”

Seely’s Fulbright will support up to 10 months of teaching at Ashesi and the relocation of her family to Ghana. She will teach international political economy courses during the first semester of the award, incorporating simulations embedded in the syllabus of the course. She will spend the second semester creating and sharing new teaching resources with educators from the university to improve student understanding of both subject matter and cross-cultural skills.

This project builds on Earlham’s pre-existing relationship with Ashesi University, a liberal arts institution whose mission is to “educate ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within students the critical thinking skills, the concern for others, and the courage it will take to transform the continent.”

“These goals reflect many aspects of Earlham’s mission and provide a unique opportunity for a sabbatical project to improve teaching across borders,” Seely said.

Seely traveled to Benin in 2012 with a group of Earlham students for an off-campus excursion to study democracy.Seely is an expert on West African politics and is the author of Legacies of Transition Governments: Cases of Benin and Togo (2009 Palgrave Macmillan) and co-author of the Historical Dictionary of Togo (forthcoming, Rowman and Littlefield). Her scholarly interest has been linked to the region since becoming a Peace Corps volunteer in Côte d’Ivoire in the 1990s.

She has conducted extensive research in the region on democratic transition in Benin with prior funding from the Fulbright exchange program. She also traveled to Benin in 2012 with a group of Earlham students for an off-campus excursion to study democracy.

Earlham students and faculty are strong candidates for Fulbright awards every year and benefit from funding that supports international teaching and scholarship. The Fulbright program keeps track of top-producing institutions of student scholars, and Earlham is among that group.

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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a College That Changes Lives. We aspire to provide the highest quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences. We expect our students to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success.

Princeton Review ranks Earlham in the Top 20 nationally for Best Classroom Experience, and U.S. News & World Report recognizes the College as one of 55 institutions taking pioneering approaches to serving students, and ranks EC 7th for the percentage of international students on campus, 25th for “Best Undergraduate Teaching” and 34th for “Best Value.”

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

 

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