LAWRENCE — University of Kansas faculty and alumni are traveling to Haiti this month with a team to meet with Haitian officials and civic groups to explore the potential for a collaborative research project in education and technology.
They are part of a core group working to create the Haiti Research Initiative, a post-disaster institutional project involving partnerships with Haiti, KU and The (Domestic) International Center for Community and Human Development, Inc., in Atlanta, Ga.
Left to right: Guy Noel, of Haiti, vice chair of INURED, who sponsored the conference; Louis Hearns, head of INURED from University of Miami; Kiran Jayaram, KU Team, Haitian Studies specialist; Regine Rene, U.S. cultural attache American embassy in Haiti; Maryemma Graham, KU Team, professor of English; Brian Rosenblum, KU Team, librarian.
Maryemma Graham, KU professor of English, and Brian Lee Rosenblum, associate librarian for digital scholarship at KU Libraries, will join Kiran Jayaram, a KU graduate now working on a doctorate at Columbia University, and C.B. Claiborne, professor of marketing at Texas Southern University, for a nine-day trip, July 20-29.
They will travel throughout Haiti to meet with the Minister of Education and other key contacts to assess higher education needs in the wake of the catastrophic January 2010 earthquake.
“Despite the flow of aid and donations, as educators, we know that the damage done to the Haitian school system, if not addressed, can remove all hope of community stability and sustained leadership, “ Graham said. “As researchers, we believe that there are particular areas where we might most usefully apply the research methods derived from the social sciences while employing innovative educational practices.”
The team will begin by attending a July 21-23 retreat titled “On Building a New Foundation for Research, Policy and Development in Haiti” in Port-au-Prince. The Haitian-based Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development sponsors the retreat. This past year, the institute began developing an Interdisciplinary Longitudinal Study of Post-Earthquake Haiti. The study includes ongoing collaborations with more than 25 international researchers and research institutions.
Graham noted, “There are numerous groups on campus that will benefit from an institutional partnership with universities and researchers as well as artists and writers in Haiti.”
KU has a long-standing relationship with Haiti, beginning with the Institute of Haitian Studies founded in 1992 at KU by Bryant Freeman, now a retired professor of French and Italian and of African and African-American studies. The Institute was based in the Department of African and African-American Studies.
Freeman has published numerous books on Haiti and on Haitian Creole (Kreyol) but may be best known for a Haitian-English dictionary that he and Jowell Laguere, a KU graduate originally from Haiti, compiled and published at KU in 1996. His “Survival Creole” has been a mainstay for travelers to Haiti. More recently, he published a Haitian-English medical dictionary widely used by medical personnel before and after the 2010 earthquake.
KU's presence in Haiti has also included relief efforts at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Working in conjunction with various aid organizations, KUMC staffers have provided much-needed medical services during visits to the country.
On their return to Kansas, the Haiti Research Initiative team will draft a report outlining potential collaborative research that would benefit Haiti and expand KU’s global research efforts.