CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
UI instructor wins Fulbright grant to study access to technology
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa instructor has been awarded
a Fulbright grant to spend the next academic year assisting the University
of Jos in Nigeria in its efforts to incorporate computer technology into
its classrooms and research enterprise.
Cliff Missen, a systems analyst for the department of physiology and
biophysics and an instructor for UI International Programs, will spend
ten months at the University of Jos teaching about computers, computer
networking, and the Internet. He will also conduct research about the availability
of new technologies in developing nations.
"My main goal will be to help hook the university to the Internet,"
Missen said, "giving Nigerian students and faculty at the University
of Jos their first opportunity to access the myriad resources on the World
For the last four years Missen has taught a one-of-a-kind course, "Internetworks
in International Development," at the UI. The course is offered through
UI International Programs, which consist of a number of offices, centers,
degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services that
serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote
global scholarship, research and teaching. While he is in Nigeria next
year, Missen hopes to teach his course -- which is also offered as a correspondence
course via the Internet -- simultaneously at the University of Jos and
"Most of my course materials, including my lectures, are already
on the course Web site," Missen said. "Ideally, we will have
a teacher in both classrooms and the students at both schools will have
a chance to compare their notes and discuss their readings with each other."
"The Internet is entirely about human communication," Missen
added. "Everywhere we turn in the developing world we find examples
of almost heroic human ingenuity to harness digital technologies to allow
people to communicate with others. "
But much of the developing world lacks the telecommunication infrastructure
of the more advanced countries in the West, so engineers in developing
countries are turning to unconventional means to send Internet information,
including short wave radio and satellites. "This process is called
'technology leap-frog.'" Missen said. "In some places, wireless
telephones, still considered a luxury here, are the only option. I'm interested
to see the impact, socially, economically, and politically, that these
communication technologies will have in the developing world."
While in Nigeria, Missen plans to research the extent to which average
Nigerians have access to the Internet. "Currently, access to the Internet
is mainly limited to expatriates, Western-trained professionals, and the
country's elite," he said. "I want to create ways of measuring
when Internet access for common people becomes a reality and determine
which strategies work best to accomplish this."
Michael McNulty, associate provost and dean of International Programs,
said this latest UI Fulbright award builds on a strong tradition of collaboration
between the UI and universities in Nigeria. "Cliff's research and
educational projects with the University of Jos provide an excellent opportunity
for the University of Iowa to strengthen its long-standing ties with several
Nigerian institutions," he said. "Those ties have been developed
over the last 25 years providing numerous faculty, staff, and students
with firsthand experience in the Nigerian culture and educational system.
Those experiences enhance the University of Iowa by bringing a global perspective
to our classrooms and research initiatives."
Missen said that one barrier for his project will be the lack of computer
hardware and software available in Nigeria. The University of Jos enrolls
about 16,000 students but has only 200 computers, many of which are older
286 and 386 personal computers.
Between now and September, when he and his family leave Iowa City, Missen
will be collecting computers, networking equipment, and software to take
to the University of Jos. There is a very pressing need for instructional
software and databases in all fields, especially medicine, at the University
of Jos. "And last year's version of a program or database is still
a vast improvement over what is currently available -- nothing," Missen
said. "We'll take what we can get."
Those with hardware or software to donate can call Missen at 338-8542.
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public portion of his Internetworks in International Development Web
site can be found at <http://intlinet.ccp.uiowa.edu>.
The Fulbright Program, established under Congressional legislation introduced
by former Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, is designed "to
increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and
the people of other countries."
Since its founding 51 years ago, the Fulbright Program has sponsored
over 70,000 Americans who have taught, studied, or done research abroad
as well as 130,000 people from other countries who have engaged in similar
activities in the U.S.
For more information about the Fulbright program, contact United States
Information Agency, Office of Public Liaison, (202) 619-4355 or visit the
Fulbright Web sites at <http://www.usia.gov/education/flbthome.htm>