August 22, 2006
Contact: Carol Hiltner: Carol@AltaiBooks.com
New Distance-Learning University Slated for Altai
Planning for Global University System (GUS)/Altai Mir, a new distance-learning peace university, is underway in the Altai Republic in Siberia. A broad international coalition of universities, governmental agencies, community-based groups, and international nongovernmental organizations will meet in Novosibirsk, Barnaul, and Gorno-Altaisk in early September. The support for these planning sessions was provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Eurasia Foundation.
The multi-lateral task-force organized at the September meetings will spend the next nine months designing the curriculum and technological structure of the university, based on local needs and internationally recognized “best practices,” to access the Japanese funds, e.g., Official Development Assistance (ODA) and others, for telemedicine and distance learning infrastructure. GUS/Altai Mir will serve as a template for “Global Universities” in other Central Asian countries.
Global University System (GUS) founder Dr. Takeshi Utsumi describes his organization as, “a network of distance-learning universities using broadband internet and multimedia technology, with the objective of closing the digital divide to improve e-learning and e-healthcare services in rural/remote areas of developing countries.” E-learners could take courses from GUS affiliated universities around the world to get a degree from the GUS. Researchers in developing countries could also collaborate with colleagues in developed countries on high tech research and development using “grid” networking technology.
The immediate goal of GUS/Altai Mir is to develop a broadband internet infrastructure in rural regions of Altai, to be used initially for interactive e-healthcare systems, civil society-building programs, and e-learning. Collaborative research on “best practices” for both the technology and the curriculum will be supported at local and international universities.
Top-down technology development will build on the excess capacity of the Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (GLORIAD) fiber-optic communication network, which already has a node in Novosibirsk, in cooperation with the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science.
However, GLORIAD provides much more than a network; it provides a stable, persistent, non-threatening means of facilitating dialog and increased cooperation globally. The jointly developed network, while highly practical, symbolizes a shared commitment in this new century towards an era of increased engagement and cooperation beginning with scientists, educators, and young people.
GLORIAD is at the forefront of the most advanced Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) supporting various contents for global e-learning and e-healthcare/telemedicine along with community development through wireless broadband Internet.
Such use of broadband would also have the capacity for globally collaborative “peace gaming” with a globally distributed computer simulation system through a global grid computer network, of special usefulness for the policy analysis on the environment and sustainable development in developing countries.
This is a computerized gaming/simulation to help decision makers construct a decision-support system for positive sum/win-win alternatives to conflict and war. It can also be used to train would-be decision makers in crisis management, conflict resolution, and negotiation techniques, as also, at the same time, fostering friendship and trust among them for global peace.
Rural connection points to fill in the grid will be developed by MAMAS (Mobile Assessment and Media Systems) as a Local Community Development Network (LCDN), with special attention to local, indigenous, gender-sensitive, and marginalized groups’ initiatives.
The Siberian Academy of Public Administration (SAPA) in Novosibirsk will act as secretariat for the new university, as well as providing leadership in civil society-building based on its existing, innovative outreach programs.
Participating Siberian universities include the Siberian Academy of Public Administration, Novosibirsk State Medical University, Novosibirsk State University, Gorno-Altaisk State University, Altaisky State University, and Novosibirsk State University of Architecture & Construction. Internationally, the University of Tampere in Finland, and Universities of Washington and Pittsburgh in the US are consortium members.
The long-term goal of GUS/Altai Mir is to preserve the unique indigenous culture of peace of the Altai region of Russia by providing of cultural and technological tools for sustainability. The National Peace Foundation is contributing its influence, resources, and connections as related to sustainable peace-building.
The headquarters of Global University System (GUS) is at the GUS/UNESCO/UNITWIN Networking Program at the University of Tampere, Finland. GLOSAS/USA is the founder of GUS.
The project was initiated by Altai Peace International, whose mission is to support sustainability of the rich cultural and ecological heritage of the Altai Region, as an important global legacy.
The views and opinions expressed above do not necessarily represent those of the Eurasia Foundation and the USAID. Additional information can be found at www.friends-partners.org/GLOSAS.