Our latest conference(Feb 2016) Comments by Dr. Ibtehal M. Aburezeq Director of Development & Follow-up Al Ain Univ. of Science & Tech, UAE
Each IJAS conference (i) introduces professors and other delegates to geographical locations that would be ideal for a study abroad program, and (ii) hosts academic research presentations in the following tracks:
Social Sciences and Humanities,
Business and Economics,
Teaching and Education, and
Technology and Science.
Delegates may take complimentary tours during the conference in a rigorously planned educational and cultural program. Click here for more information.
Delegates may also register for an optional one-credit hour graduate-level course entitled How to Organize a Study Abroad Program. Click here for information about this practicum-oriented course specially tailored for academics.
PHOTOS FROM OUR CONFERENCES
UAE CONFERENCE (February 2016): Every seasoned professor will tell you that no matter how much you stick to the same syllabus, every class you teach has its own chemistry. The same could be said about every academic conference. The chemistry at our conference at Al Ain University (AAU) was unrivaled for its hospitality and collegiality as the university administration and faculty pulled all the stops in welcoming our delegates for five days of educational and cultural events in Al Ain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
THAILAND CONFERENCE (January 2016): Our conference was held in cooperation with Naresuan University and came at the end of the fruit festival in Chiang Mai. Dr. Panida Jongsuksomsakul coordinated this event which included cultural visits to various UNESCO-designated sites and the country's highest mountains. As a result, we had to use passenger vans instead of our usual coaches to climb to such high elevation.
SINGAPORE & MALAYSIA CONFERENCE(January 2016): Once again IJAS' research presentations were hosted by Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. However, this time, IJAS extended its cultural tours program all the way to Johor Bahru in Malaysia.
ROME CONFERENCE (October 2015). A group of graduate students from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, together with their professor, Dr. Cesar Correa Arias (center), during our visit to Rome's Tivoli Gardens.
TORONTO CONFERENCE (May 2015). Photobombed! It's an exciting moment for the three professors in pink ponchos, Edward M. Okirima (Mount Kenya University, Kenya), I.J.D. Nwosu (Imo State University, Nigeria) and Osunkwo F.O. Chinyere (Abia State University, Nigeria) as the boat drifts away from the Niagara banks to sail to the thunderous mist of the waterall. Suddenly, Ibrahim A. El-Hussari (Lebanese American University) steps into view and stamps his contemplative mark on the photo. What was he thinking?
INTERNATIONAL PRESS (2014): Our conferences continue to generate interest in the international press. On the left is a clip from the Italian daily Il Giornale di Vicenza based on an interview with Dr. Ratna Lindawati Lubis of Telkom University, Indonesia. The article mentioned how 250 international academics toured areas of cultural and historical interest during their IJAS conference in Venice. On the right is a cutting from the Maharashtra Times in India, after the Freiburg Christmas conference. The bottom right insert shows IJAS Coordinator Dr. Joseph Azzopardi introducing Dr. Subhash D'souza of Mumbai University to the delegates. Among other contributions, Dr. D'souza serenaded the main hall (in adjacent insert) with Yuletide flute music during the conference opening.
ROME CONFERENCE (November 2014): When multidisciplinary professors get together, their common interests span from research methodology to teaching and education. But sometimes, it's surprising what also crops up as a common interest. During IJAS' cultural tour of Tivoli Gardens, a number of delegates used the open space for an impromptu Gangam Style dance. Later that evening, some of the delegates proceeded to Piazza del Popolo (i.e., People's Square) for the same dance, an annual public event highly popular with university students in Rome. In the above photo (front row, from left), it's Rene M. Odendaal (University of South Africa), Agnes Sequino (University of San Jose - Recoletos, Cebu, Philippes), and Cam Hong Thi Khuong (RMIT University, Australia). In the back row (from left), it's Heli Virtanen (Aalto University, Finland) and Ping Zhang (Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronauts, China). "Honest good humor is the oil and wine of a merry meeting, and there is no jovial companionship equal to that where the jokes are rather small and laughter abundant." (Washington Irving)
VIENNA CONFERENCE (April 2014): Cultural and educational events kept everyone busy. Left photo: Delegates outside Stift Melk, an internationally famous abbey where one finds the remains of Austria's first ruling dynasty. Right photo: Delegates listen to Dr. Karl Zehetner (not in photo) at FHWien University which graciously hosted the conference.
UNIVERSITY OF LONDON CONFERENCE (November 2014): Conference delegates waving back during one of our 27 chauffered river tours in Cambridge. The tours enabled us to see the riparian colleges in comfort and style.
FLORENCE CONFERENCE (April 2014): Our Italian tour guide's witty comment about a historical monument draws a reaction.
PISA (April 2014): The whole imposing edifice of the celebrated tower rose tall behind us.
INNSBRUCK (2014): Four motorcoaches from our Munich conference drove across the border to introduce the Austrian city of Innsbruck to our delegates. The delegates were divided into eight groups for guided tour purposes. This photo of one of the groups was taken in downtown Innsbruck. (Photo: Dinesh C. Sharma)
"I'm now pretty bored with single discipline conferences because chances are you only learn about things you know already." - Stefan Sagmeister
If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.
Around the turn of the century, in Rhode Island, a group of Bryant College professors from different departments would frequently meet for lunch, sharing ideas over a Sodexo meal. The members of this group included Pat Keeley, Pedro Beade and Glen Camp. Pat, known for his Irish wit, would frequently remark sarcastically that a new international journal, a multidisciplinary one, was needed to record the group’s thoughts. Nobody would think anything of Pat’s tongue in cheek comment but the eccentric and affable Glen Camp, a multilinguist who had spent the early years of his career as a policy director for the U.S. State Department in Europe, would each time raise his glass and reply “Superbe! Magnifique!” At first it was thought that Camp was acting theatrically in jest but it soon became apparent that he was obsessed by the remark that Keeley would generously repeat over time, if for nothing else, to elicit the predictable reply. A Harvard alumnus and Fulbright scholar, Camp was the founder of the Rhode Island branch of Amnesty International, and he saw in open and multidisciplinary communications a catalyst for international education and harmony across geographical boundaries. He envisioned how a journal of this nature could promote study abroad programs. Sitting at the same table would be Dean Earl Briden whose pet project at Bryant was to get the faculty to think outside the box. Bryant students had for decades participated in study abroad programs and Dean Briden was actively involved in the extensive documentation of the programs. One may imagine the Dean’s generous words of encouragement to Camp. This led Camp to prod Pedro Beade for advice about securing funding for the journal and academic conferences. As a board member of the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, Beade was an expert in grant writing and had the right connections. Camp was the favorite professor of the international students at Bryant, and Beade who had been raised in Cuba believed in Camp’s vision.
This was an exciting time at Bryant. The college was on the verge of becoming a university and a major campus expansion would soon be undertaken. As so often happens in such situations involving change, other concepts took a backseat and the idea of a multidisciplinary journal that couldn't fit readily in any one department could at first elicit only a very narrow support. Yet from a small seed a tree would grow.
The International Journal of Arts & Sciences (IJAS) was officially registered as a double-blind refereed journal in 2005. The first issue was published one year later in hard-copy format thanks to the creative writings of Rocio Dresser (San Diego State University), Jerry Galloway (Georgia Southern), Kristin Reddington-Bennett (Wake Forest University), and Sylvia Nassar-McMillan (North Carolina State University), among others. Each issue was driven by a call for papers.
By 2008, some of the initial Bryant faculty had assumed new responsibilities or joined other universities. A few others had passed away or retired. Among those who were now teaching elsewhere was Joseph Bonnici, a professor active in study abroad programs.
In 2008, Bonnici was asked to facilitate major changes at IJAS and to extend the organization's outreach beyond American academia. Sticking closely to Camp's philosophical blueprint, IJAS formally became an organizer of conferences promoting study abroad programs. The multidisciplinary content of the research remained the same but the format changed from a “traditional American" to an "international study abroad” format. IJAS also started disseminating its articles in electronic format, thereby increasing its articles’ access across the world. Over fifteen professors in the Connecticut State University (CSU) system including Henry Greene, Khoon Koh, Carlos F. Liard-Muriente, and Bonnici himself have been instrumental in coordinating IJAS' conferences. Without the university's support for its research faculty, IJAS's global drive would not have lasted for so long.
Volker Kieber and Joseph Azzopardi in Gottenheim
On the other side of the Atlantic, two persons have stood out in IJAS’ success in Europe. One was Volker Kieber who jettisoned IJAS beyond its American base to link up with Eucor, the Upper Rhine University with campuses in three European countries. As a result of this university partnership, IJAS went on a tear solidifying its European program. The other highly productive relationship happened shortly thereafter with the University of Malta. With a campus in the center of the Mediterranean and historical ties to the Knights of Malta at the Anglo-American University in the Czech Republic, this resulted in a continuation of conferences in various European countries. The University of Malta’s Joseph Azzopardi, a Department Chair fluent in German, further nurtured IJAS’ close relationship with German and Austrian universities which sponsor a number of IJAS’ conferences.
Eucor Director B. Finger addressing IJAS delegates
In line with the above developments, IJAS' editorial board actively solicited international research. Today, IJAS' articles are indexed or accessed in (i) WorldCat, (ii) Ulrich's serials directory, (iii) Cabell's directories of Educational Curriculum & Methods and Educational Psychology and Administration, (iv) ProQuest, (v) Pol-On, the Polish scholarly bibliography operated by the University of Warsaw, (vi) Genamics, (vii) EBSCO, and (viii) Google Scholar - click here.
Over the last few years, widespread cuts in university budgets have led to the demise of many excellent research programs and projects on American campuses. When the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) started closing down entire departments and projects due to lack of funding, IJAS ended up acquiring a number of refereed publications on condition that it would offer them for free to the general public for a set number of years. However, the same financial crunch that afflicted UNLV would come to tax the CSU system and when in 2015 the Board of Regents for Higher Education announced that research grants provided by CSU would be eliminated as well as the guarantee of retaining tenure, the future of IJAS' research program and editorial independence was seriously compromised. There were widespread protests by the faculty on and off campus (see photos below) but the Board did not budge. On top of this, a crippling lawsuit by a third party against IJAS that had been festering in the judicial labyrinth, as well as mounting legal bills, took their toll. All this undermined IJAS' ability to secure further professional liability insurance. Without the ability to shelter under a comprehensive umbrella policy and guarantee of support for editorial faculty against liability headwinds, a protection that would be taken for granted in a tenured system, one could sense that the great project was coming to an end.
In the face of IJAS' precarious situation, words of encouragement and meaningful gestures of goodwill from previous conference delegates poured in. But the most notable offer of support came in from William Paterson University. In late 2015, it offered to become a permanent host for the conferences and the publications.
Trying to explain the IJAS experience over all these years to those who have spent a lifetime attending traditional, single-discipline conferences confined within four walls is like trying to explain the laptop to a 1960's typist chugging at her typewriter in her cubicle. IJAS owes its success instead to a burgeoning generation of professors who are internationally mobile and eager to explore beyond the confines of their discipline and geographical base. The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size. Taken to its fullest, the IJAS experience is fatal to silo mentalities. At IJAS', there is always something new to do and learn. To those who prefer a traditional, single-discipline conference, they could still experience this at IJAS by narrowing the type of papers they attend to and skipping the cultural programs. Like a study abroad program, an IJAS conference is what one makes it. There are students who take their study abroad program seriously, actively trying to comprehend and close the cultural divide. And there are those who can't wait for the opportunity to get drunk. As one University of Cincinnati professor put it upon attending the IJAS conference in Prague, if a delegate presents a paper and leaves, the experience is no different than if one did the same thing at a bigger conference such as the American Psychological Association's. She then described what it was like to listen to a wide variety of presentations at the IJAS conference:
The American presenters [were] highly energetic and data driven about helping low income NYC students... The Polish presenter had highly multicolored slides about how the sounds of poetry make us happy. The German presenter and the Romanian presenter [spoke] about theology. The grad student in English studies read a paper full of whimsical self disclosure about reading Mrs. Dalloway in the tub. An Israeli Buddhist gave a moving account of his moment of enlightenment in the Judean desert. Having such variety in culture, kinds of questions being asked, and styles of presentations is an experience of widening the world that would not occur in discipline specific situations. This pulls you out of your silo if you let it.
The universities of Freiburg, Basel, Strasbourg, Karlsruhe and Mulhouse-Colmar formed an association in December 1989 to create the European Confederation of Upper Rhine Universities, also known as Eucor. Every December, IJAS hosts a conference in Freiburg to commemorate this event. The avowed intent of the Eucor network and its signatories, including every IJAS conference, is to create international cooperative initiatives in the realms of education, research and culture.
GERMANY CONFERENCE (December 2013): It's late Wednesday evening and three sessions are still running at our Germany conference. The smiles in the above session are truly heart-warming in the six-day grueling schedule that included countless presentations and as much as free tours to the Black Forest, Strasbourg, Alsace, Basel and Heidelberg, in Germany, France and Switzerland. Heavily subsidized by a European Union grant the annual conference has a loyal following both among our delegates and the German press (click here and here).
STRASBOURG, FRANCE (December 2013): Christmas is in the air as the above passengers, all IJAS delegates, are about to cruise on the concentric river while listening to an in-depth lecture, spiced with humor, about the city's history. Our annual conference in the outskirts of Freiburg, Germany, continues to attract hundreds of delegates. Spanning over six days, it promotes study abroad programs in Germany, Switzerland, and France's Alsace and Strasbourg.
PROVENCE CONFERENCE (May 2013): IJAS delegates line up in front of Avignon's famous bridge - le pont d'Avignon - that gave rise in France to a well-known song by the same name.
CONFERENCE ON THE HARVARD CAMPUS (May 2013): Seeking a place in the shade in the Radcliffe garden, Professor Pellegrino Manfra (center) listens attentively during a break. Professor Manfra's earlier presentation was entitled Moral Decadence, Decay and Hazard: Causes of the Current Financial Crisis. Over 500 delegates attended this conference.
PRAGUE CONFERENCE (June 2013): Our conference in the Czech Republic continues to enthrall as evidenced by the above photos showing in anticlockwise fashion (i) our visit to the Kutna Hora ossuary containing up to 70,000 human skeletons serving as decorations in the underground chapel, (ii) the vision that transfixed our delegates in Karlstejn last year and generated a lot of internet buzz, and (iii) the "faculty trampolene contest" in downtown Kutna Hora on 28 June 2012, won by Dr. Amy Owen of the University of Guam. (Photo of Dr. Owen levitating: By courtesy of Dr. Jaggapan Cadchumsang)