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Ohio Wesleyan Partners with Methodist Colleges Worldwide
Schools Work to Address Global Needs, Including Water-Quality Concerns

May 6, 2009

Image courtesy of Aoyama Gakuin University
DELAWARE, OH – Methodist colleges worldwide are joining forces to explore and address issues of global concern by sharing resources and turning to technology for solutions.

Recently, faculty members and administrators from six Methodist-based colleges and universities in Brazil, Japan, and the United States participated in a 21-day online educational initiative to further peace studies at their institutions. As a result, Ohio Wesleyan University has formed a “Partnership of Peace” with Aoyama Gakuin University (AGU) in Tokyo, Japan, to foster community service learning and cultural exchange.

“The Partnership of Peace project will begin this spring as an interdepartmental and interdisciplinary experimental education project that will help provide clean and basic water filtration systems for poverty-stricken areas of the world,” said Ohio Wesleyan Chaplain Jon Powers, director of the new program. “It is estimated that 5,000 children die every day due to unsanitary water.”

The collaborative efforts of students and faculty at OWU and AGU will benefit Potters for Peace, a U.S.-based nonprofit network of potters, educators, technicians, supporters, and volunteers who work to create low-cost ceramic water filters. Kristina Bogdanov, Ph.D., OWU assistant professor of fine arts, initiated the relationship with Potters for Peace, and will play a key role in the creation of the ceramic water filters.

“Kristina and I hope to build a long-term relationship between OWU and Potters for Peace, and also a long-term relationship with AGU,” Powers said. Our goals are to offer support, solidarity, and friendship to developing world potters; assist with appropriate technologies sustained with local skills and materials; help preserve cultural traditions; and assist in marketing locally, regionally, and internationally.”

Faculty members from Ohio Wesleyan’s departments of fine arts, chemistry, geology, economics, and sociology/anthropology will be involved in the Partnership of Peace initiative, along with several student groups. As the project progresses, six OWU students will begin an internet exchange of information and ideas with six AGU students. During the summer of 2010, the six Japanese students will visit Ohio Wesleyan to help create water filters for Potters for Peace and to participate in community service projects in Central Ohio. Later, the OWU students will travel to Japan to live and work on a reciprocal service learning project in Tokyo.

In June, Powers and AGU’s chaplain, Paul Shew, will outline the project at the annual meeting of the United Methodist Higher Education Institute in Arlington, Texas. The theme for the conference will be “Pedagogy for Peace: Educating Moral Leaders in a Violent World. A $500 seed grant for the Partnership of Peace was provided by Oikos Inc., an organization dedicated to educating current and future leaders about peace, human need, and ecological sustainability.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 47 states and 50 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.