Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo is teaming up with the Universidad Iberoamericana in Santo Domingo and others this fall to launch the first doctoral program to be offered in the Dominican Republic.
“I really like the idea that we are helping a country develop an education system stronger than what exists and that we are helping the (Dominican Republic) increase the ability to eventually offer its own doctoral programs,” says Donna Talbot, chair and professor of WMU’s department of educational leadership, research, and technology. “Once the students have completed their coursework and pass their comprehensive exams, they will be well equipped for the dissertation seminar and to prepare their dissertation proposals.”
As part of the four-year program — which offers a Ph.D. in educational leadership — faculty from WMU’s College of Education and Human Development will travel to the Caribbean island for one week each year to teach and advise students at the host university in Santo Domingo. Students enrolled in the program will also travel to WMU in July each year for three weeks of intensive study and exploration of U.S. educational systems.
Talbot, who developed the program with Juan Tavares, director of international admissions and services in WMU’s Haenicke Institute for Global Education, says the program will allow students to focus on possible dissertation topics during the first year through an initial doctoral studies seminar. They can then continue to develop their topic through research, a professional field experience, and assistance from WMU faculty.
Ming Li, dean of WMU’s education college, hopes the program will serve as a pilot for similar programs outside the U.S. “We are using our expertise to help build the academic capacity of another country. We are taking advantage of online technology to offer an academic program through a hybrid model. This is a significant move in fulfilling our vision of being a globally engaged institution,” Li says.
About 400 students from the Dominican Republic have studied at WMU over the past six years, fulfilling the nation’s commitment to higher education through the Dominican Scholars Program.