As a further sign of the growing collaboration between LIU and the University of Salzburg, its Dean of the School of Education, Dr. Ulrike Greiner, came to the College of Education, Information and Technology as a visiting professor and gave a public lecture on “The Austrian Landscape and the Diversity Beliefs of Students.”
Dr. Greiner’s host was Professor Shaireen Rasheed, who recently became the co-director of the doctoral program in Interdisciplinary Studies at CEIT. They first met in 2016 when Dr. Greiner visited LIU Brooklyn. Last year, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship, Professor Rasheed spent two weeks at the University of Salzburg, working with undergraduate and doctoral students as well as giving a public lecture at the Austrian university. She has also been doing research in Europe on immigration issues—a topic that has become increasingly charged on both continents.
“I found out from my work over there that even though the issues are different, they are not uncommon. They overlap,” said Professor Rasheed. “The challenges are the same.”
This spring Dr. Greiner and Professor Rasheed virtually co-taught an undergraduate course via Skype and Blackboard so education majors from both LIU and the University of Salzburg could learn about teaching diversity within an international framework. The professors hope to initiate a month-long exchange program beginning next spring with students and faculty.
One of the LIU Post students who participated in last semester’s cross-Atlantic class via the Internet was Georgina Peralta, a junior majoring in childhood education with a specialization in Spanish.
“We asked the Austrian students what kind of economic and academic challenges they go through,” she said. “It was very refreshing to walk in someone else’s shoes from across the world.” She found the experience very rewarding. “It made me think about policymaking and what goes into the laws of education.”
“We should exchange students so they get to know a broader horizon of how teaching and learning works in different countries,” said Dean Greiner. She cited a recent study that found that one of every two students attending Austria’s primary schools is multi-lingual, meaning that even though they might be born in Austria, their parents were immigrants—and German was not the only language spoken at their new home.
“We have an increasing number of students coming from a diverse background,” she explained, “so we have to equip our teachers to handle a really diverse classroom. We have to adapt our pedagogy.”
Student demographics have also been changing in American classrooms, noted Professor Rasheed, who stressed how important diversity training is for today’s educators. “When you have teachers who are more aware of cultural diversity, it makes for better students, and it makes for a better climate in the school.”
Until now, just the business schools at LIU and the University of Salzburg had formed a relationship, so this collaboration marks the first time for the colleges of education.
So far, five LIU undergrads have signed up for the spring exchange program, and there’s room for many more.
“We will really mentor them,” said Dean Greiner. The LIU students will be placed in English classes in Salzburg so they can observe classroom instruction firsthand, and they’ll be taken on cultural outings to Vienna as well. “One month gives you the opportunity to change your beliefs and have a deeper experience,” she noted. In the fall, students from the University of Salzburg are expected to come to LIU. “Our schools want teachers with international experience,” Dean Greiner added. “What you gain is experience in adapting to new situations.”
In October, Dean Greiner, in conjunction with colleagues in Political Science, Philosophy and the Teacher College in Salzburg, is co-hosting an international conference at the University of Salzburg on the topic, “National Populism and Education,” and Professor Rasheed will be the keynote speaker.