FAIRFIELD, Connecticut—Sacred Heart University received $75,000 from Davis Educational Foundation to support the University’s new Virtual Global Immersion Project (VGIP) until December.
The VGIP will foster essential cultural competence skills that are necessary for undergraduate health and allied health students in health care, allied health, and pre-health studies. Additionally, VGIP will promote educational equity and inclusion by bypassing barriers to traditional global health experiences.
Bronwyn Cross Denny, Health Sciences associate professor, and Christina Gunther, director of the Department of Health Sciences, are leading the project. The initiative will be led by a team of faculty and staff who are leaders in global health programs overseas and/or have exceptional experience in global health programming and delivering online and virtual content. The team includes Jacques Castonguay and Todd Barnes from School of Communication Media and the Arts; Wojciech Wlochgeneral manager of the global affairs office and English Language Institute; Donna Bowerhead of the faculty of Guatemala; Sharon McCloskeyhead of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe faculty; Sofia Pendleyhead of the Mexican faculty; Sheelagh Schlegelhead of faculty in Guatemala (formerly Haiti); Meggy Adorno, Deputy Director of Global Health Programs and Global Health Student Ambassadors. Student appointments are yet to be determined.
“Having the ability to continue to provide students with immersive learning experiences and to extend that opportunity to a wider circle of students is a win in these restrictive times,” Gunther said. “We will be able to provide more equitable learning experiences for students while creating a nurturing and almost hands-on environment. We are grateful to the Davis Educational Foundation for making this possible.
The grant will support the project’s development of a virtual reality module pilot program that will bring global experiences directly into SHU classrooms. These modules allow students to learn and develop strategies and techniques that expand Western vision to achieve an understanding of cultural perspectives. The VGIP will provide students with new opportunities to overcome barriers to participation such as financial limitations, restrictions in study plans, and sports participation.
The Davis Educational Foundation is a public charitable foundation that funds undergraduate programs at public and private colleges and universities in all six New England states. It was founded by Elisabeth K. Davis and Stanton W. Davis, retired president of Shaw’s Supermarkets, to embody their support for higher education. Their foundation has funded over $115 million in grants to over 174 institutions.
“The timing of this project could not be more fortuitous, given the obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has suspended global programs and demanded that we transition to virtual learning,” Cross-Denny said. . “At the same time, it offers the opportunity to develop innovative ways to increase access to global experiences that are so helpful in expanding a student’s worldview. It is about preparing for global citizenship.
About Sacred Heart University
As the second largest independent Catholic university in New England and one of the fastest growing in the United States, Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and certificate programs at its campus in Fairfield, Connecticut. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. Over 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, media and arts; social work; computer science and engineering; Health Professions; Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; Dr. Susan L. Davis, RN, & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent College. The Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions because it was created and run by lay people. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward-thinking thinkers who embrace change – in their own lives, professions and communities. . The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Top 387 Colleges – 2022 Edition“Best Northeast” and Best Business Schools – 2022 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to award-winning NPR-affiliated radio station WSHU, a Division I athletics program, and an impressive performing arts program that includes a choir, orchestra, dance, and theater. www.sacredheart.edu