NUI Galway Engineering Program Among Winners of Global Citizenship Award

Thursday, 22 April 2010

-MacJannet Prize Awarded to Exceptional University Civic Engagement Programs-
The Talloires Network and the MacJannet Foundation have announced that NUI Galway is among the winners of the second annual MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. The first time in history that an Irish education institution has been recognised for work in the area of civic engagement. The CAIRDE (Community Awareness Initiatives Responsibly-Directed by Engineers) service learning module received second place in the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. Through CAIRDE all third-year Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering students apply academic knowledge and skills to address genuine community needs. Dr James J. Browne, President of NUI Galway on the announcement of the prize, said: "Service learning has become a hallmark of the student experience at NUI Galway and offers real learning in a community context. It brings theory to life while improving the lives of those living in often challenging situations. This international recognition for such commitment to civic engagement and service learning is a tribute to those involved". The MacJannet Prize, which is administered by the Talloires Network, received 66 nominations from 54 universities in 27 countries around the world. The prize recognises exceptional student civic engagement initiatives based in Talloires Network member universities around the world and contributes financially to their ongoing public service efforts. The Network is led by Presidents from over 200 universities throughout the world and builds a global movement of civically engaged and socially responsible higher education institutions. NUI Galway, through the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI), became an active member of the Talloires Network in 2008. Since that time Lorraine McIlrath, CKI Coordinator became a Talloires Network Civic Engagement Expert and is sharing the work of NUI Galway through new partnerships forged in Jordan and the Lebanon to mention a few. McIlrath said that she is "absolutely delighted that NUI Galway's pioneering efforts in service learning have been recognised by such an esteemed organisation, placing Ireland on the map in terms of excellence and quality in service learning". Established in 2003 by Professor Abhay Pandit, and co-directed by Dimitrios Zeugolis, CAIRDE became an embedded part of the undergraduate Mechanical, Biomedical, and Electrical Engineering programmes as part of a required module that previously had been solely lecture-based. The emphasis is on interacting directly with intended beneficiaries of projects. Students have developed prototypes and projects that have created lasting change in communities beyond campus. Students at the University have shared their knowledge with children from disadvantaged communities through an annual scrapheap challenge; developed fold-up mobile wheelchair ramps; self-locking medicine cabinet; collapsible walking aid; device to help wheelchair users manoeuvre a wheelie bin. Professor Pandit said: "This award signifies to us that student engineers have a role to play in society and this role brings many benefits. Without doubt it has enabled our students to see their role as global engineers from challenging and engaging local experiences. The MacJannet Prize will help us shine a spotlight on this experience". Since the inception of the CKI, 50% of NUI Galway's course offerings have created a service learning component. The McJannet Prize will help nurture and further develop this pedagogy across Ireland. Other winners of the MacJannet Prize included first place winner PuentesUC (Bridges UC) at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Joint second-place winners with NUI Galway are the HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention Program at University of Mines and Technology in Ghana and third-place prizes were also awarded to five additional outstanding programs from four continents: Community Builders, Wartburg College (USA); Humanity in Focus, University of Hong Kong (China); Student Leaders for Service, Portland State University (USA); Ubunye, University of Cape Town (South Africa); Vidas Móviles, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia). The geographic diversity of the winning programs demonstrates the global scope of the movement to incorporate civic engagement within higher education. In all regions of the world, higher education institutions are responding to pressing social issues, and students in particular are championing the idea of global citizenship. The MacJannet Prize recognizes the winning programs as models for universities worldwide and will continue to encourage community engagement within higher education.
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