Peace Corps, College to Combine Global Service with Two Master’s Programs

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

Selected SUNY Oswego graduate students in agricultural and mathematics education now will have the opportunity to combine Peace Corps service and a master’s degree.

The new partnership is part of the Peace Corps Master’s International program. It fits well with Oswego’s many global awareness initiatives, President Deborah F. Stanley said.

“SUNY Oswego has worked to create more international learning opportunities in developing countries to engage our undergraduates with other cultures and the challenges our world faces,” Stanley said. “Now we find in the Peace Corps Master’s International program a perfect opportunity to create a graduate-level counterpart to these exciting opportunities.”

Participants in Master’s International programs typically finish at least one year of graduate school on campus before earning additional academic credit serving for 27 months as Peace Corps volunteers abroad. In Oswego’s math education program, however, students will complete all course work before embarking on the Peace Corps experience in one of 77 host countries.

Barbara Garii, associate dean of the School of Education, said the program, approved to begin this spring, should have 10 students in a year or so, and build to about 25.

“For SUNY Oswego, this is such a fabulous opportunity for our students to tie their academics with helping people in other areas of the world,” Garii said.

Citizens of the world

Master’s International candidates in the mathematics adolescence education (grades 7 to 12) degree program and in the agricultural education degree program can expect to complete the same course requirements as their peers before moving on to a Peace Corps posting. Stanley said those students would have skills aplenty to offer.

“Students in Oswego’s Master’s International programs in math education and agriculture education will help people in other countries gain the skills to develop solutions to their societies’ most challenging problems — problems like hunger and environmental conservation and economic development — while themselves acquiring an international perspective and multicultural sophistication that will serve our own nation well as we navigate an increasingly complex world,” the president said.

The college will encourage the students, while on campus, to become involved in global opportunities, such as Hart Hall Global Living and Learning programs and helping the Office of International Education and Programs to host international students.

Master’s International students “are building a set of global knowledge they’re going to take into the world for two and a half years, and then bring that back into classrooms here to enable their students to know what it means to be a citizen of the world,” Garii said.

Garii worked on the Peace Corps proposal with Rhonda Mandel, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Margaret Hill Martin, chair of vocational teacher preparation; and Chris Baltus, professor of mathematics and chair of the math department.

SUNY Oswego will consider expanding the number of master’s degree programs with the Master’s International option, Garii said. Among the candidate programs could be other areas in education — science, literacy and other vocational programs — as well as counseling services, school psychology and educational leadership.

The coming year marks the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps and the 150th anniversary of the college at Oswego.

SUNY Oswego’s School of Education becomes only the fifth Master’s International partner among colleges and universities in New York state. The others are with graduate programs at Adelphi University, Bard College, Cornell University, SUNY Albany and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.