Project Afghanistan is a major new initiative that puts Colgate in partnership with the eQuality Alliance, a consortium of several Afghan and Western universities.
The project is utilizing several grants and initial funding from the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization to build stronger ties with Kabul University and help it develop new course materials and programs.
The initiative was launched in 2005 after Alexander Nakhimovsky, associate professor of computer science and a member of the center's advisory board, traveled to Washington to meet with R. Michael Smith '70, and Dr. Ashraf Ghani, chancellor of Kabul University. (Michael Smith had known Dr. Ghani from his work in Afghanistan.)
In the weeks that followed, Project Afghanistan came into existence, formulated its goals, and established connections with several complementary efforts.
Initial funding for the project was provided by the center, which sees the project as a natural extension of its mission: Afghanistan is a country that is struggling to build a stable democracy, and one of the main prerequisites for stable democracy is high-quality university education that both instills the habits of critical thinking and prepares for careers in the modern world.
Dohuk is a major city in northern Iraq, population 800,000, and is the administrative center of the Dohuk province. The University of Dohuk was founded in 1992, when Saddam Hussein's regime issued a new regulation that made it very difficult for high-school students from the Kurdish area of Iraq to enter universities in other parts of the country.
The university started out as a medical and veterinary school but quickly expanded to become full-fledged university with a wide range of undergraduate programs and a small graduate (MS and PhD) program. Its science departments (math, physics and computer science) are housed in the School of Education, established in 1997.
The university also has an IT service that maintains networks and computers on campus. The medical school, which remains the largest unit within the university, has a number of scientific and clinical departments, including chemistry and microbiology. However, because of its young age, the University of Dohuk lacks many necessities including an adequate library.
In January-February 2005, the center sponsored the collection of science textbooks from Colgate science faculty for the University of Dohuk. In very short order we collected almost 1,000 pounds of books (hundreds of volumes) that were sent in 24 boxes to the city of Mersin in Turkey, from where they were transported by truck to Dohuk.
The center provided shipping costs, close to $2,000. The Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE)
, and especially COVE intern Bob Filbin, lent vital support. Science division faculty and ITS staff generously provided books, and the division as a whole was very supportive.