Washington, DC – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) yesterday named Robert Klimek, teaching professor and music director, and Catherine Skokan, associate professor emerita of engineering, as winners of the 2018 Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award for their work to advance international education through a cross-cultural international learning program at the Colorado School of Mines. The Malone Award, a national honor sponsored by APLU and awarded annually, recognizes individuals who advance international education at public universities.
In 2007, Dr. Klimek and Dr. Skokan jointly developed a cross-cultural education program focused on STEM students, with the aim of helping them understand how culture can contribute to the success or failure of scientific and engineering projects. The program reflects the reality that many of the world’s most vexing challenges require scientists and engineers to understand the nuances of the communities and cultures they’re working in to solve.
Using music to demonstrate this lesson, the professors collaborated to bring their students to countries where there is both a love of music and an opportunity to observe engineering in a cultural context. By highlighting the intersection of engineering studies and performing arts, the program helps instill an appreciation for the human dimension of all engineering projects. More than 200 students gain international experience through the initiative annually, and the program has led trips to Cambodia, Ireland, Rome, and Vietnam, among other countries. Colorado School of Mines alumni living in the countries being visited are also invited and encouraged participate in trips to help educate students on local traditions and culture.
“We applaud Dr. Klimek and Dr. Skokan for their exemplary work bridging divides between fields of study as well as the people studying them,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Special and productive opportunities for learning come about when different disciplines and cultures come together. And the programs they’ve created have helped students do exactly that.”
APLU’s Office of International Programs leads the association’s diverse array of international initiatives. These initiatives help support campus internationalization, enhance and expand study abroad opportunities, strengthen engagement with the developing world, and support members’ efforts to engage with partners worldwide to address global challenges.
The Malone Award honors the legacy of the late Michael P. Malone, a champion of international education and one-time chair of the APLU Commission on International Education. Malone served as president of Montana State University from 1991 until his death in 1999.