Augustana University will begin a faculty exchange program next year with longstanding Norwegian exchange partner Nord University.
The faculty exchange is made possible by an Erasmus+ grant, part of the European Union’s programming that supports education and training in Europe.
The grant will fund week-long trips for two Augustana nursing professors and three Nord nursing professors. During their trips abroad, faculty will teach a seminar, learn about different teaching methodologies, pursue joint research opportunities and explore areas for further student exchange.
“The more we know about the universities we partner with, how they teach and how they learn, the better we can help the students we exchange,” said Lynn White, assistant professor of nursing at Augustana.
Augustana has a long history of offering students the opportunity to study in Norway during its J-term as well as hosting Norwegian students, especially in education and nursing programs.
White travelled to Nord University during the 2019 J-term and met with her Norwegian counterparts to discuss using the Erasmus+ grant for faculty exchanges.
The United States and Norway have vastly different healthcare systems, and White said any student or faculty member who participates in the exchange will be able to see the good and bad aspects of both. But, ultimately, White said nurses and educators around the world are more similar than they are different.
“It was impactful to see the differences in how we approach both education and healthcare,” she said. “But also, how similar we are as we all put our students and patients first.”
Ida Jakobsen, the international coordinator for the nursing department at Nord University and Elena Popova, Nord University's Erasmus+ institutional coordinator, co-wrote the proposal for the Erasmus+ grant. Jakobsen said the application process wasn’t too complicated because of Augustana faculty, like White, who helped work out the details for the faculty exchange.
“We haven’t done this before with Augustana,” she said. “But we’ve had their staff here visiting us for the J-term, and the greatest value of this is that more staff can get involved in exchange and see the value in student exchange.”
The faculty that participate in the exchange will bring back new pedagogical methods, Jakobsen said.
“They will realize that there are different ways of teaching and learning in nursing and can apply that to their own lessons,” she said.
Both Jakobsen and White said the faculty exchange program will benefit the professors and the students they teach because the faculty will take their experiences home with them.
“In general, it’s valuable to go abroad because you get a greater understanding for how the world works as far as cultural perspectives, religion and just human understanding,” Jakobsen said.
“You broaden your horizons and you grow a lot.”