A Vision 2020 Partnership

About the Partnership

These project activities build on informal working relationships among institutions of higher education, civic groups, local governments, businesses, and other organizations in Iowa and Central Europe. A main goal is to institutionalize existing informal cooperation among the main institutional partners -- Kirkwood and Iowa Central Community Colleges, and Iowa State University -- and introduce community college colleagues to ISU partner organizations in the Slovak and Czech Republics. Another important goal is to bring international perspectives into the undergraduate curriculum offerings at the Iowa partner institutions.

Proposed PartnershipActivities

During the partnership we will design activities to produce the following outcomes:

Background Information on ISU Activities in the Slovak & Czech Republics

ISU's involvement in agricultural and rural development projects in Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia reflects the fact that many people from this part of Europe began to settle in rural parts of Iowa during the last century and continue to play important roles in the development of Iowa's agricultural and food system sector. Some communities like Spillville, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the visit of the great Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorak in 1993, retain their rural character to this day. Bigger cities like Cedar Rapids and Ft. Dodge retain agribusiness and food processing as mainstays of their economic base. The Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, which in 1996 hosted a joint visit by Presidents Bill Clinton, Michal Kovac (Slovak Republic) and Vaclav Havel (Czech Republic), has positioned eastern Iowa one of the most important cultural centers serving the Czech and Slovak-American communities in the US.

After it became possible to renew ties between US institutions and counterparts in Czechoslovakia in 1989, ISU developed a program of agribusiness and rural development activities with the Slovak Agricultural University (1991) and ARVI (1995). Since then, more than 100 farmers, agribusinesspeople, civic leaders, and university officials from US and Slovak organizations have undertaken short-term assignments to work in counterpart organizations in one another's countries. Since 1994, ARVI and ISU have coordinated visits by Slovak mayors and community leaders and small business advisers with counterparts in Ft. Dodge, Ames, Des Moines, Spencer, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, and other rural and urban areas around Iowa.

In addition, a student exchange program has been established between Iowa State University and the Slovak Agricultural University. Besides taking classes on campus, Slovak and American students participate in a rural community development program while visiting each other's country. We expect these activities to serve as a model for the expanded international education and outreach efforts conducted by the new partnership.

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