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State Department Grant Promotes Student Exchange between Duquesne, Ghana School

The U.S. Department of State has awarded a $350,000 grant to Duquesne University’s School for Leadership (SLPA) for a student exchange with a school in Ghana.

The two-year grant will support an emerging young professionals program focused on environmental issues in the energy industry, according to Dr. Dorothy Basett, dean of SLPA.

Two major activities are planned with the Institute of Professional Studies (IPS) in Accra, the capital city visited by President Barack Obama in July. The collaboration will bring approximately 20 Ghanaians to the U.S. for four weeks to study the environmental impact of Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction in western Pennsylvania and the mountain top removal of coal in West Virginia. This team will examine the interaction of community, government and industry leaders in addressing environmental and societal issues. Duquesne’s Center for Environmental Research and Education, (CERE), housed in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, also will be involved.

In the next phase of the program, approximately 20 Americans will travel to Ghana for four weeks of study and consultation on land management practices regarding oil extraction off the Ghanaian coast, leading to a joint set of recommendations to protect the environment and society while retaining economic benefits.

“Because of the very recent discovery of off-shore oil in Ghana, the need is critical for leaders in Ghana to manage this appropriately to maximize benefits to its citizens and to minimize negative environmental and societal impact,” Bassett said. “Here in our region of the U.S., we face similar concerns with Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction and the mountaintop removal approach to coal extraction under way in West Virginia.”

Although the two schools are more than 5,400 miles apart, parallels can be drawn between the environmental and economic ramifications facing both regions.

“It is not just the governmental policy that students will examine, but the community and non-governmental organization work, in the context of seeing action that benefits the people of the community,” said Dr. Stanley J. Kabala, associate director of CERE, who has worked with community efforts and policies. “Our experience in this context will come to bear on two issues close to Pittsburgh: Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and mountain top removal for coal mines, which will fill in valleys, flattening the landscape in West Virginia. Ghanaians will be interested in seeing what we learn in the way of organizing to get heard and having access to the decision-making process.”

Ghanaians will study in Pittsburgh during the summer of 2010, and American students will study in Ghana in 2011. All students, including those from Duquesne and IPS, will be selected through an open-application process conducted in collaboration with the Education and Cultural Affairs Division of the state department and with the U.S. Embassy in Ghana.

This program promises to strengthen ties forged earlier this year between Duquesne and IPS. The Duquesne University School of Leadership developed a new, online master of science degree program, concentrating in global leadership. Duquesne and IPS students will participate in these online courses together.

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Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.