The Forum Announces Winner of the Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design

Headshot of Dr. Rodolfo Valdez-Vasquez, a smiling man with a bald head and brown eyes. He is wearing a suit and a pin with the Colorado State mascot, Cam the Ram, on his lapel.In celebration of International Education Week, The Forum is pleased to announce the 2019 recipient of the Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design: “Sustainable Buildings,” a course co-developed and led by Professor Rodolfo Valdes-Vasquez of Colorado State University. The short-term Construction Management course has been taught in Costa Rica in collaboration with EARTH University since 2014. Several co-leaders have assisted Dr. Valdes-Vasquez over the past five years, including Mehmet Ozbek, Svetlana Olbina, Jeff Wilkes, and Caroline Clevenger. All of them are also recognized for their contributions.

Laura Thornes, Colorado State’s Director of Education Abroad, stated:

CSU is very pleased that Dr. Rodolfo Valdes-Vasquez and his colleagues in Construction Management (CM) have been recognized with The Forum’s Award. The Sustainable Buildings program in Costa Rica exemplifies the thoughtful pedagogy we wish for all programs abroad. This short-term program uses traditional lecture, peer-to-peer instruction, community-engaged projects, homestays, guest lectures, reflective journaling, and project-based learning to enrich student learning outcomes. The faculty leaders in this program also invite students from EARTH University to be part of the program, which gives global perspectives to everything learned in and out of the classroom. Finally, the faculty leaders have collaborated with CSU’s Sociology department to map both Social and Learning Networks as well as High Impact Learning Practices in this program. We are fortunate to have Dr. Valdes-Vasquez leading this program with his collaborators and advancing best practices within the field of Education Abroad.

The Selection Committee was particularly impressed with the incorporation of multiple High Impact Practices, the diversity of majors represented, the inclusion of EARTH University students and faculty, and the exercise of creating personal definitions of sustainability and personal mission statements. As one committee member put it, “The innovation is in the many-layered benefits that are programmatically designed into the single syllabus on a variety of knowledge-based content and experiential learning levels.”

The Forum’s Award for Excellence in Curriculum Design honors instructors who develop and implement innovative and effective education abroad curricula. It is the education abroad field’s only award presented to an individual or group of individuals for excellence in the design of an education abroad course. By recognizing the outstanding efforts of instructors who are committed to the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, The Forum hopes to inspire the field to strive for enrichment of education abroad curricula, and to continually reflect on how to best encourage student learning abroad.

The award will be presented at The Forum’s 16th Annual Conference, Education Abroad at a Crossroads: Actions for a Sustainable Future, in Kansas City, MO on March 27, 2020, where Drs. Valdes-Vasquez and Ozbek will present a session about the course.

Read more about the Award»