UNT signs cooperative agreement with university in Pakistan
DENTON (UNT), Texas — Faculty members in the University of North Texas Departments of English and Linguistics and Technical Communication will help their counterparts at the National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad, Pakistan, upgrade the university’s graduate programs in English literature and linguistics. Representatives from both universities signed a three-year cooperative agreement for initiatives that will be funded by a $1 million grant from the U.S. State Department’s Public Diplomacy Programs for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
NUML has 19 academic departments offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in 20 different languages on its flagship Islamabad campus, including separate graduate and undergraduate Departments of English. The university also has seven regional campuses.
Masood Raja, UNT assistant professor of English and project director, said the agreement will allow UNT faculty members to share the university’s resources and expertise with NUML faculty members and graduate students, and to expand UNT’s reach in South Asia.
Beginning in 2013, Raja, a native of Pakistan who earned a diploma in Japanese language from NUML, will spend two months at NUML each summer through 2015 to assist with curriculum restructuring in NUML’s graduate Department of English. Raja will also provide NUML faculty members with new teaching methodologies. He will be joined for part of the summer by Ryan Skinnell and Kyle Jensen, both UNT assistant professors of English, and Haj Ross, UNT distinguished research professor of linguistics.
Raja said the master’s degree program in English at NUML has no separate tracts for literature and linguistics, and includes many required linguistics courses. The degree currently requires 63 hours of coursework — much more than the 36 hours required for UNT students earning master’s degrees in linguistics, and 30 to 36 hours required for UNT students earning master’s degrees in English literature.
“We hope to reconfigure the program into literature and linguistics tracts to resemble most master’s programs in North America,” he said.
Under the agreement, approximately 53 NUML faculty members and graduate students will visit UNT during the next three years for curriculum development training and research with UNT faculty members, who will act as mentors to them. The first 11 faculty members and six graduate students will spend two months of the 2013 fall semester at UNT. Twenty-four more faculty members and 12 more students scheduled to come during fall 2014 and 2015.
Raja said the NUML scholars will be assisted by Saleha Suleman, assistant vice provost for international affairs, and staff members at UNT-International. The scholars will have access to the resources of the UNT Libraries for their research on the literature, humanities and languages of South Asia. They will also give presentations about their research to the UNT community and the general public.
In addition, UNT faculty members, led by Jensen, will develop a Writing Resource Center at NUML in late 2013 or in 2014.
Raja said UNT students will benefit from the chance to interact with the Pakistani scholars when they visit UNT, and UNT will become known to the more than 30,000 students at NUML’s eight campuses through the partnership.
“This partnership will enhance UNT’s presence in Pakistan and the region,” he said.