Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Millard Fillmore University International Programs

Koba Lomidze
Old Dominion University

The development of new communication technologies that make use of the global computer network – internet – acted as a trigger to the all-encompassing process of globalization. While there were fears that globalization could constitute a serious threat to idiosyncratic cultures and identities, soon it became clear that there are more benefits to it than downsides since it is an opportunity to observe and share approaches and practices different from your own and at the same time showcase your achievements. The inevitable process of globalization has already changed and is continuing to impact the way education systems function around the world.
The new realities made it necessary for higher educational institutions to start thinking about and implementing measures for campus internationalization in order to stay competitive in the global educational market. However, the rationale for internationalizing is not just economic competitiveness. International education fosters personal growth through reflection on assumptions, values, and moral choices. Internationalization allows a higher education institution to better position itself within a rapidly evolving global educational landscape. Students at universities that offer high degree of internationalization can better “reflect and address the increasingly interdependent nature of our world” (Gaff, Ratcliff, 1996, p. 416). Therefore, it is worthwhile for universities to “strengthen their commitment and attention to internationalization and increase both the number and quality of their efforts” (Gaff, Ratcliff, 1996, p. 416). Ideally, measures for internationalization should be included in a university’s strategic goals.
Open Doors report reveals that record numbers of international students enroll in schools in the U.S. In 2010, 690 923 international students were enrolled in American higher education institutions with China, India, South Korea, Canada and Taiwan being the top five places that students came from and comprising 52% of all international students (Institute of International Education, 2010). The U.S. has a competitive advantage in international education; it is surely because the U.S. colleges and universities have enrolled far more foreign students than those of any other nation (Gaff, Ratcliff, 1996, p. 421). The United States remains among the most desirable destinations for international students. However, as the global economy changes and as the higher education systems in other nations strengthen, U.S. institutions will need to pay closer attention to what campus factors help attract and retain international students (How Student Services Can Help Increase International Enrollment, 2009).
Millard Fillmore University currently enrolls 10,500 students. International student population constitutes 10%, which makes 1050. Despite the fact that there has been a decline in the international student body from 15% before September, 2001. The number of 15% was placing Millard Fillmore University among the top United States universities in terms of international student ratio towards the overall student population (Institute of International Education, 2010). However, even 10% is an impressive ratio which very few American universities can boast.  This percentage places Millard Fillmore University above the average in term or international student enrollment (Institute of International Education, 2010).
Nevertheless, Millard Fillmore University has set it as a goal to increase the current international enrollment by 10% within five years. If this objective is achieved it will make the University the top institution in terms of international student ratio to overall student population. To attain this goal a plan should be designed specifying the number of measures that will address the issues related to internationalization.

Organizational Structure of the Office of International Programs
Increasing the international student enrollment and retention is a priority for Millard Fillmore University. Internationalization of the campus is a collective commitment and is the responsibility of almost every office or department of the university including the administrators, the staff, and the faculty. While the attainment of this goal is not confined to any one division or department, the accurate blending of the principal unit responsible for international student enrollment and retention, the Office of International Programs, into the structure of the university and its robust organization is the clue to effective delivery of services to international student population. As Bolman and Deal (2003) put it “right formal arrangements minimize problems and maximize performance” (p.45). They further maintain that “clear, well-understood roles and relationships and adequate coordination are key to how well an organization performs” (p. 44).
Currently the Director of International Programs reports to the Vice President for Student Affairs. The work and responsibilities of the office under his purview, however, involve constant communication not just with Student Affairs’ offices, such as the Office of Residence Life and Housing but also with Academic Affairs’. It is through the Office of International Programs that academic advisors are assigned to international students and important academic and non-academic information is communicated to governmental or sponsoring bodies.  
Furthermore, the Office of International Programs works in close cooperation with the Office of Admissions, since it is here that students are recruited and their credentials are evaluated for eligibility.  Thus, the work of the International Programs is much broader than the scope of Student Affairs Division under which it currently functions. At the same time it would not be reasonable to place the Office of International Programs’ operation within the umbrella of Office of Administration and Finance, since the latter has very specific functions related to finances, and enrollment. Just as with the Division of Student Affairs this would be a far from perfect place for the Office of International Programs to operate due to the broad nature of its duties.
Given the importance Millard Fillmore University places on increasing international enrollment and retention in the next five years, which, by the way, is directly related to the successful operation of the Office of International Programs including Study Abroad, International student and scholar activities and programs, The English Language Center, it is essential that the Office of International Programs operates as an independent unit from Student Affairs directly reporting to the provost. This will ensure the narrow specialization of the work of the Office of International Programs that will be geared towards reaching the strategic goals of campus internationalization expressly declared by the Board and the President. Such specialization and clearer division of labor will also ensure the effectiveness of the services provided.
Additionally, in the attempt to further specialize the work a new office should be created within the Office of International Programs; one that will be responsible for the coordination of all International student activities and programs after their admission to the University. This measure will eliminate doubling of responsibilities among different units scattered in different divisions of the University. Additionally, concentrating the international student related offices under the same umbrella will make it easier to coordinate roles and responsibilities among these offices, as well as make them conveniently accessible for international students and scholars, and study abroad program participants. The above mentioned measures will further strengthen the Office of International Programs as one of the principal units of the University. 

Increasing the International Enrollment
Office of International Programs in cooperation with the Admissions Office should employ more aggressive strategies to reach out to prospective students who reside outside the United States. Publishing better quality, well-organized and informative promotional materials will be a good start in this direction. This should be accompanied by visits to the prospective source countries where the Admissions office staff should organize information sessions for the interested audience.
Office of International Programs should come up with suggestions to the Office of Admissions to establish partnerships with other pre-determined higher educational institutions, possibly signing the memorandums of understanding with them. Cooperation can be intensified with recruiting agencies around the world. This measure is going to ensure a steady flow of international students. While it is true that challenges the prospective international students face when applying for visas and the present immigration policies in the US present a hurdle to international enrollment, the Admissions Office should employ all the possible tools to increase recruiting efforts and reach out to prospective students overseas.
Millard Fillmore University should consider modification of English proficiency requirements, which is usually determined by the satisfactory Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score for undergraduates and both TOEFL and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for graduate students. A model can be designed where even if a prospective undergraduate student lacks a certain number of scores to satisfy the required minimum s/he is offered an option to enroll in the English Language Center to get to the required proficiency level. After successfully completing the English Language training these students will be able to pursue the desired major.
In some instances this kind of a conditional admission will allow a student to enroll in both English language courses and academic courses at the same time for a number of semesters until they meet a specific level. After successfully accomplishing the English language training they will not have to take TOEFL or any other test.

Increasing the International Retention Rates
In order to identify the reasons for international student drop-out fact-finding meetings should be conducted with currently existing international student groups that will identify the challenges confronting the international student population. The information gathered from these meetings will be used in part to assist in the construction of the survey instrument for international students that will help acquire specific qualitative and quantitative data. The survey that will guarantee anonymity and confidentiality will yield important data, the careful analysis of which will give a clear picture of the present state of international students at Millard Fillmore University. Based on this analysis the Office of International Programs will outline strategies for improvement.
One of the possible reasons for high attrition rates of international students at Millard Fillmore University may be poorly planned student orientations. The countries the students come from may not have the library services, especially electronic libraries, they can and should take advantage of in the United States. Therefore, international students should be informed of the existence of various learning facilities, possibilities and tools to aid their study and academic growth from day one.
While generally orientations are a good way to provide students with important information and useful tips, the clear design of presentations and real examples can make a real difference for students. At the orientation international students also meet old internationals.  Many of them have been confronted with the same problems. This enables them to share their experiences and possibly find quick solutions to their problems. Thus, facilitating the conversation among old and new international students should be the primary goal of the orientation.
One of the ways to increase the international student retention rates is securing graduate assistantships or teaching assistantships for them. By immersing students in work related to their interests, assistantships “aim to increase student engagement and promote skills and knowledge needed for achieving life, career, and civic goals” (Levine, 2010, p. 46). While students are keen on receiving high-quality education, they find it even more rewarding to have an on campus job which can be both a learning experience and a source of covering tuition fees.
International Programs staff, in cooperation with other student affairs professionals, Office of Residence Life and Housing, the faculty, American students, and community volunteers, must work together to create a welcoming environment for international students and their dependants. “Providing quality programs and services for international students is the cornerstone of any initiative to increase the numbers of international students and to retain those presently enrolled. Colleges and universities with good academic programs and well-trained staff who provide courteous, accurate, timely service and informative programs to international students will reap great benefits from their investments. Satisfied international students and alumni recruit relatives, friends, coworkers, and others to U.S. schools. There is no quick fix for international success. All faculty and staff must work together on behalf of all students, including international students. Without this commitment, they could incorrectly assume that international students with problems are mainly the responsibility of the international student office” (Peterson, et al., 1999, p. 70).
One more important measure to boost international student retention rate is internationalizing curricula. In the majority of cases the curricula for various disciplines and courses is based on the data, cases, history, and realities of the United States only. Responding effectively to the geographic and cultural diversity of foreign students is extremely important to motivate international students and make the courses offered engaging.
Curriculum committees can be powerful agents of internationalization. They can review the international dimensions of institutional offerings department by department and course by course. They can question, where appropriate, the absence of international content in existing and proposed courses and challenge faculty members to justify syllabi that focus only on the United States (Tonkin and Edwards, 1990, p. 16). Making these curriculum modifications will ensure that teaching and research in particular disciplines go beyond nationally and geographically limited and limiting frames of references.
Mark Shay, Director of IDP Education, the world's largest student placement firm, recommends that universities should guarantee student housing, offer on-campus work, and let students participate in activities to increase enrollment, they should also come up with ways to manage international students' homesickness. It is also necessary to ascertain place of worship for various religions. Institutions should encourage international students' involvement in social activities and on-campus work opportunities (How Student Services Can Help Increase International Enrollment, 2009).

Increasing the number of international students at Millard Fillmore University is one component of diversifying student population. Both in-state as well as international students benefit from having multiple student populations. But the lack of coherent policy at Millard Fillmore University constituted a barrier towards increasing international enrollment and retention. Implementing the suggested organizational changes and measures for enrollment and retention will greatly help Millard Fillmore University in attaining its ambitious goals. 


Bolman, L.G. & Deal, T.E. (2003). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Brockington, J. L., Hoffa, W. W., & Martin, P. C. (Eds.). (2005). NAFSA’s guide to education abroad for advisers and administrators. Washington, DC.  NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Gaff, J. G., Ratcliff, J. L. & Associates (Eds.). (1996). Handbook of the Undergraduate Curriculum: A Comprehensive Guide to Purposes, Structures, Practices, and Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
How Student Services Can Help Increase International Enrollment. (2009, December 15). Student Affairs Leader, 37(24), 1-2. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Institute of International Education. (2010). Open Doors 2010 Fast Facts. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors
Levine, E. (2010). The Rigors and Rewards of Internships. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 44-48. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Peterson, D., Briggs, P., Dreasher, L., Horner, D., & Nelson, T. (1999). Contributions of International Students and Programs to Campus Diversity. New Directions for Student Services, (86), 67-77.
Tonkin, H., & Edwards, J. (1990, Spring). Internationalizing the University: The Arduous Road to Euphoria. Education Record, 14-77.
Vik, N. (2007). Declining Foreign Enrollment at Higher Education Institutions in the United States: A Research Note. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11(2), 215-226. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ethnic Conflict Resolution

Koba Lomidze
Old Dominion University

Since the end of the Cold War, a wave of ethnic conflict has swept across parts of Eastern Europe, particularly in the former Yugoslavia; the former Soviet Union – Chechnya, Abkahzia, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Osetia;  and Africa – Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia. Localities, states, and sometimes whole regions have been engulfed in convulsive fits of ethnic insecurity, violence, and ethnic cleansing. Early optimism that the end of the Cold War might usher in a new world order has been quickly shattered. Before the threat of nuclear Armageddon could fully fade, new threats of state meltdown and ethnic cleansing have rippled across the international community (Lake, Rothchild 1996).
The extent and intensity of ethnic conflict varies from relatively peaceful manifestation of institutionalized ethnic interest, e. g. demonstrations, to violent struggle, civil war and ethnic cleansing. The scope of ethnic conflict characterized by the use of coercion extends from demonstrations, riots, strikes, destruction of property and sabotage to attacks on persons, violent clashes between groups, arrests, killing of people, rebellions, terrorism, forceful deportation of people, ethnic guerrilla war, separatist war, ethnic civil war, ethnic cleansing and genocide (Vanhanen, 1999).
Social scientists have studied intensively different aspects of ethnicity and ethnic conflict, especially since the 1970s, but they have not yet found or agreed on any satisfactory theoretical explanation. Different terms are used to describe ethnicity and ethnic conflict, with the terms ethnic, national, primordial, cultural, tribal, racial, linguistic, caste and communal being used to describe conflicting groups. Some researchers speak of ethnicity and ethnic conflict; others speak of nations, nationalism, ethno-centrism, ethno-nationalism, minorities, ethno-political conflict, communal conflict, or they use other terms (Vanhanen, 1999).

Ethnic conflict theories
Vanhanen argues that there may be a common theoretical explanation for the universality of ethnic conflict and that this explanation can be derived from our evolved disposition to nepotism, which is a concept introduced by Pierre L. van den Berghe.  The members of the same ethnic group tend to support each other in conflict situations. Our tendency to favor kin over non-kin has extended to include large linguistic, national, racial, religious and other ethnic groups. The term 'ethnic nepotism' describes this kind of nepotism at the level of extended kin groups (Vanhanen, 1999).
A problem with this definition is that people are related to each other at many levels. We are related he level of nuclear family tfrom to the level of Homo sapiens. Consequently, ethnic groups are never absolutely distinct and exclusive. Any level can provide a basis for ethnic nepotism. The situation determines what level of ethnic group becomes politically relevant. This means that ethnic groups are always, to some extent, socially constructed. They are not predetermined and unchanging (Vanhanen, 1999).
Vanhanen formulates two hypotheses on the political consequences of ethnic nepotism: (1) Significant ethnic divisions tend to lead to ethnic interest conflicts in all societies. (2) The more a society is ethnically divided, the more political and other interest conflict tends to become channeled into ethnic lines (Vanhanen, 1999).
As an approximate measure of genetic distance, Vanhanen uses the period of time that the two or more compared groups have been separated from each other, in the sense that intergroup marriages have been rare. The longer the period of endogamous separation, the more the groups have had time to differentiate from each other genetically. If each endogamous population occupies its own territory, they are also geographically separated from each other. However, geographical barriers have not always been needed to maintain endogamous populations (Vanhanen, 1999).
Ethnic groups can be perceived as extended kin groups. The members of an ethnic group tend to favor their group members over non-members because they are more related to their group members than to the remainder of the population. The members of the same ethnic group tend to support each other in conflict situations (Vanhanen, 1999).
Joel Kotkin argues, economic globalization is breeding a new wave of ethnic awareness in reaction to the homogenizing influences of the global culture. This ‘great revival’ of ethnic identity would promote prosperity for some groups, but for many others globalization would produce a ‘throwback to the kind of clannishness . . . increased emphasis on religion and ethnic culture often suggest the prospect of a humanity breaking itself into narrow, exclusive and hostile groups’ (Kotkin, 1993).
For Naisbitt just as economic globalization has led to the decentralization of large capital into smaller economic units, so would economic globalization lead to the breakup of states and the creation of a thousand new countries (Naisbitt, 1994).
The relationship between globalization and conflict is not however that simple. Without the consideration of economic, social and political factors that are not related to globalization the analysis of the reasons for ethnic conflict would not be complete.

Ethnic conflicts on the territory of Georgia
Abkhazia used to be an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. Its status is now contested. Following violent armed conflict with Georgia over a period of 13 months in 1992/1993, Abkhazia became de facto independent. However, while not now under Georgian control, Abkhazia remains de jure part of the Republic of Georgia, which considers Abkhazia an integral component of its state. Abkhazia declared independence in 1999, a status that remains unrecognized by the international community (Clogg, 2008).
Abkhazia is located in the north-western corner of the Republic of Georgia and has an area of 8432 km2 or approximately 12.1% of Georgia’s total territory. The northern border of Abkhazia is contiguous with the border of the Russian Federation (Nielsen, 2009).  The Abkhaz are ethnically and linguistically distinct from the Georgians. The Abkhaz call themselves Apsni and speak the north Caucasian language that is completely distinct from the Georgian language.
As in other parts of the Soviet Union, Soviet repression and nationalities policy exacerbated interethnic relations in the Georgian SSR. In order to maintain control in the Caucasus, ‘the Soviets systematically manipulated various ethnic groups in a strategy of divide and rule’ (Hunter, 2006). ‘In sum, by the time of perestroika and glasnost, mid 1980s, the Georgians and the Abkhaz had developed a mentality of mutual victimization’ (Hunter, 2006).
In August 1992, the conflict escalated dramatically in Abkhazia. The following months witnessed bitter fighting between Abkhaz separatists and Georgian troops, with increasing Russian support and engagement for the Abkhaz side. Despite initial victories by the Georgian side, most of Abkhazia was under Abkhaz control by the end of 1992. Abkhaz forces further augmented their control in fighting in the summer of 1993. By September 1993, the Abkhaz had succeeded in establishing a de facto state (Human Rights Watch/Helsinki 1995).
Because of geopolitical importance of Georgia there has been a tacit struggle between super powers, Russia and the United States, for the dominance in the region. Georgia is a part of historic Silk Road connecting East Asia with Europe. There are also several pipelines going on the territory of Georgia supplying Europe with Caspian oil and gas. Therefore Russia sees Georgia as part of its “vested interests” and a buffer zone between NATO affiliated country Turkey. It was dexterously using the ethnic conflicts on the territory of Georgia as a leverage to have some political influence in Caucasus region.
The conflict remained unresolved. In spite of the formal signing of a ceasefire and a framework agreement in 1994, the relationship between the two sides remained highly fragile. Negotiations have been ongoing since then, yet any achievements have been offset by periods of increased tension and escalation. There has been no substantive progress in reaching a political settlement on the key issues of political status and the return of displaced persons.
Since the 1990s, Russia granted Russian citizenship to inhabitants of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (Chivers 2004, 2008). Russia warned repeatedly that it would consider the use of military force to protect its ‘citizens’ in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. For example, on 21 March 2008, the Duma adopted a non-binding resolution urging the government ‘to intensify efforts aimed at the protection of the security of citizens of the Russian Federation, residing on the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia’ and consider ‘the possibility of reinforcement of the [Russian] peacekeeping troops’ (International Crisis Group 2008b, 9).
After the recognition of Kosovo’s independence by a number of states Russia constantly tried to use it as the precedent for the separatist regions in Georgia. In the interlude between Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the outbreak of armed conflict in South Ossetia in August 2008, Russia at times sought to downplay the analogy. However, once fighting erupted between Russia and Georgia, Russian officials made explicit use of references to Kosovo and consciously mimicked Western rhetoric from the 1998–1999 Kosovo crisis. In addition, Russian officials made selected references to other aspects of the wars in the former Yugoslavia (Nielsen, 2009).
South Ossetia is located in the Republic of Georgia in the Southern Caucasus and covers an area of 3900 km2, or approximately 5.5% of Georgia’s total territory. A massive mountain range separates South Ossetia from the Republic of North Ossetia – Alania, which is part of the Russian Federation(Nielsen, 2009).
In 1988, an organization calling itself the Ossetian Popular Front protested against what it perceived as attempts by the Georgian majority to impose its identity and language upon South Ossetians. The Ossetian Popular Front broadcast its plea towards Moscow and asked for the unification of South and North Ossetia. Predictably, ‘Georgians reacted strongly to these measures and called them a direct threat to Georgia’s territorial integrity’ (Hunter, 2006).
In the following years, South Ossetia and Georgia travelled down a path of escalation, as increasingly vocal South Ossetian calls for autonomy and independence (or annexation to Russia) competed with heavy-handed Georgian attempts to enforce strict centralization. Thus, Georgia in October 1990 not only annulled the South Ossetian declaration of an ‘Independent Soviet Democratic Republic’, but then also voided the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast. This led to armed skirmishes between Georgian security forces and South Ossetian militants, who quickly called for and received assistance from the Soviet Army. Already by December 1991, Helsinki Watch reported that the conflict had created more than 100,000 Ossetian refugees and had observed human rights abuses on both sides of the conflict (Helsinki Watch 1991).

Eruption of ethnic conflicts
The most widely discussed explanations of ethnic conflict are, at best, incomplete and, at worst, simply wrong. Ethnic conflict is not caused directly by inter-group differences, "ancient hatreds" and centuries-old feuds, or the stresses of modern life within a global economy nor were ethnic passions, long bottled up by repressive communist regimes, simply uncorked by the end of the Cold War (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
Lake and Rothchild (1996) argue instead that intense ethnic conflict is most often caused by collective fears of the future. As groups begin to fear for their safety, dangerous and difficult-to-resolve strategic dilemmas arise that contain within them the potential for tremendous violence. As information failures, problems of credible commitment, and the security dilemma take hold, groups become apprehensive, the state weakens, and conflict becomes more likely. Ethnic activists and political entrepreneurs, operating within groups, build upon these fears of insecurity and polarize society. Political memories and emotions also magnify these anxieties, driving groups further apart. Together, these between-group and within-group strategic interactions produce a toxic brew of distrust and suspicion that can explode into murderous violence.

Managing an ethnic conflict
Managing ethnic conflicts, whether by local elites and governments or concerned members of the international community, is a continuing process with no end point or final resolution. It is also an imperfect process that, no matter how well-conducted, leaves some potential for violence in nearly all multiethnic polities. Ethnic conflict can be contained, but it cannot be entirely resolved. Effective management seeks to reassure minority groups of both their physical security and, because it is often a harbinger of future threats, their cultural security. Demonstrations of respect, power-sharing, elections engineered to produce the interdependence of groups, and the establishment of regional autonomy and federalism are important confidence-building measures that, by promoting the rights and positions of minority groups, mitigate the strategic dilemmas that produce violence (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
Competition for resources typically lies at the heart of ethnic conflict. Property rights, jobs, scholarships, educational admissions, language rights, government contracts, and development allocations all confer benefits on individuals and groups. All such resources are scarce and, thus, objects of competition and occasionally struggle between individuals and, when organized, groups. In societies where ethnicity is an important basis for identity, group competition often forms along ethnic lines (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
Politics matter because the state controls access to scarce resources. Individuals and groups that possess political power can often gain privileged access to these goods, and thus increase their welfare. Because the state sets the terms of competition between groups, it becomes an object of group struggle. Accordingly, the pursuit of particularistic objectives often becomes embodied in competing visions of just, legitimate, and appropriate political orders (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
As the influence of one side declines, previously enforceable ethnic contracts become unenforceable. The checks and balances that safeguard the agreement today become insufficient tomorrow. Even if the group that is growing stronger promises not to exploit the weaker group in the future, there is nothing to prevent it from breaking its promise when it actually is stronger. Recognizing this, the declining side may choose to fight today rather than accede to an ethnic contract that will become increasingly unenforceable as time progresses (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
Groups compensate for their informational limitations by acting on the basis of prior beliefs about the likely preferences of others (as well as the costs of resorting to violence and other variables). These beliefs are formed through historical experience-the "past," in Pe'sic's words-and represent each group's best guess about the other's intentions. Groups then update these beliefs as new information becomes available to them. Nonetheless, information is always incomplete and groups are forever uncertain about each other's purposes. Conflict, then, always remains possible in ethnic interactions(Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
The security of ethnic peoples is in no small way based on reciprocity of respect. Unless each side views its opponent as honorable and having legitimate interests, relations are likely to be marred by a history of intended or unintended affronts that widen the social distance between groups and exacerbate fears among ethnic minorities that their children will be relegated indefinitely to second-class status (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
The fears of ethnic minorities may often be overstated. Minorities in Eastern Europe are described as having "an exaggerated fear of the loss of identity," a legacy of distrust of majority authorities that causes them to make broad demands for legal guarantees. The majorities, fearful that this will start them down the slippery slope toward the breakup of their states, refuse to consent to these demands.41 But to build confidence it is imperative that dominant state elites take minority ethnic resentments and anxieties into account (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
Conflict management requires an effort by the state to build representative ruling coalitions. In conceding to ethnic minority leaders and activists a proportionate share of cabinet, civil service, military, and high party positions, the state voluntarily reaches out to include minority representatives in public affairs, thereby offering the group as a whole an important incentive for cooperation (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
When not applied with great care, power sharing arrangements can backfire. Ethnic elites must be prepared to interact with other elite representatives they find personally repugnant, something difficult to do under normal circumstances but especially so where the norms of collaborative politics are not in place. Where majority-dominated states remain unprepared to respond to legitimate minority demands for full participation in decision-making activities, power-sharing schemes are likely to unravel and become themselves a source of grave insecurity (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
The international community should encourage states at risk of significant ethnic conflict to make use of confidence building measures. However, such confidence-building measures represent conflict management, not conflict resolution. They can reduce some of the factors giving rise to ethnic fears, but they do not alter the basic dilemmas that cause these fears in the first place. The risks in ethnic encounters remain in place, even if papered over by concessions. Because there is always the possibility that groups will adopt more threatening forms of interaction, these confidence-building measures never eliminate the information failures, problems of credible commitment, and security dilemmas that are embedded in ethnic encounters(Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
Unfortunately, even countries with strong interests in intervening often find themselves unable to offer credible external guarantees. Countries vitally affected by the fighting or the outcome either tend to be partisan or are perceived by the combatants as partisan(Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
One or both sides to the conflict, therefore, will doubt the willingness of the outside power to enforce the new ethnic contract in an evenhanded manner, and they will be less likely to reach an effective and enforceable agreement. However, when outside powers have interests in a stable outcome, rather than in the victory or loss of either side, they may be perceived by all as fair-minded facilitators (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).
Weak commitments produce ambiguous policies that may, in the end, exacerbate rather than resolve conflicts (Lake, Rothchild, 1996).

Ethnic conflicts have become the plague of the end of the twentieth century and there seems no tangible way to resolve them in the twenty-first century too. The involvement of peacekeeping forces often is counter-productive if any of the conflicting sides does not put faith in the impartial attitude to the peacekeepers or doubt the willingness of outside power to resolve the conflict fairly. This has been the case with the Russian peacekeeping troops in the Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia, Georgia. The Georgian side has constantly demanding the internationalization of the peacekeeping forces in those conflicting regions as it saw Russia as on the evolved sides of those conflicts, which is credible if we take into consideration that Russia was trying to undermine the statehood of Georgia since the breakup of Soviet Union and declaration of independence by Georgia.  Russian citizens were involved in significant number in the hostilities taking place in 1992-1993 in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Based on this it was ironical that the Russian forces could act as peacekeeper in any of those conflict regions.
Some of the researchers suggested ways to manage conflict. They are power sharing, delegation of responsibilities, certain confidence-building measures. However, no method has been suggested or has actually been tested to work that could completely eliminate the conflict and reconcile the conflicting sides. 


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Chivers, C.J. (2004). Threat of civil war is turning the Abkhaz into Russians. New York Times, August 15.
Clogg, R. (2008). The Politics of Identity in Post-Soviet Abkhazia: Managing Diversity and Unresolved Conflict. Nationalities Papers, 36(2), 305-329.
Helsinki Watch. 1991. Conflict in Georgia: Human right violations by the Government of Zviad Gamsakhurdia. December 27. http://www.hrw.org
Hunter, S. T. (2006). The Transcaucasus in transition: Nation-building and conflict. Washington, DC: CSIS
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Ishiyama, J. (2003). Does globalization breed ethnic conflict?. Nationalism & Ethnic Politics, 9(4), 1-23.
Kotkin, J. (1993). Tribes: How Race, Religion and Identity Determine Success in the New Global Economy. New York: Random House, 1993
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Naisbitt, J. (1994). Global Paradox: The Bigger the World Economy, the more Powerful its Smallest Players. New York: William Morrow & Co, 1994, p. 40.
Nielsen, C. (2009). The Kosovo precedent and the rhetorical deployment of former Yugoslav analogies in the cases of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Journal of Southeast European & Black Sea Studies, 9(1/2), 171-189.
Pedersen, D. (2002). Political violence, ethnic conflict, and contemporary wars: broad implications for health and social well-being. Social Science & Medicine, Volume 55, Issue 2, July 2002, Pages 175-190
Vanhanen, T. (1999). Domestic Ethnic Conflict and Ethnic Nepotism: A Comparative Analysis. Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Jan., 1999), pp. 55-73. Sage Publications, http://www.jstor.org/stable/451104

The Role of the Alternative Methods of Instruction in Higher Education

Koba Lomidze
Old Dominion University

The U.S. higher education system is famous with innovative approaches. It has been a benchmark for many countries around the world. Administrative models, policies, the best practices of American universities are often imitated and adapted by the universities in various part of the world. Those universities often operate in completely different cultural, economic environments from the United States. It is also well-known that the biggest share of modern day research is done in American research institutions, which means that the American system is the most effective at present. 
One of the components that have been making the educational system effective is funding. Financial endowments fueling the higher education system was generously coming from the federal government, donors, and alumni as recognition of higher education institutions’ successful work.  Recent economic recessions, however, made for substantial reduction of funding to universities from federal government and other contributors. Higher education will have to make cuts in order to balance their budget. To continue the innovative tradition the university administrators, the faculty and the staff need to be seeking for new solutions and asking themselves “what should the university of the future be like?”
“College and university attendance has been steadily growing since World War II” (Arowitz, 2000, p. 2) and the same trend will obviously continue in the 21st century. In our time, higher education cannot be self-sustainable. It seldom was, and this is especially true in the 21st century, when universities do not only serve the purpose of giving knowledge or conducting research, but immerse students into their idiosyncratic cultures. Students’ expectations of higher education institutions are much higher, than it used to be, even 20 years ago. Contemporary universities are expected to satisfy high standards and address a variety of needs including residential buildings for a substantial share of enrolled students; parking areas for the student population, faculty, staff and visitors; recreational facilities; special programs geared towards many different student groups and minorities; library facilities and wireless internet to name a few.
The implementation of new technologies can obviously have great benefits making higher education accessible for larger numbers of people. This in turn is essential for cultivating “informed citizens who are aware of and open to different cultural perspectives and are willing to engage in reasonable debate about critical issues” (Taylor, 2010, p. 6). The most important investment being the time, and enthusiasm by the faculty to cooperate in utilizing the new technologies for their instruction, this process, also, requires initial financial investments. 

Financial pressures
Already today the higher education system is faced with severe financial pressures. To satisfy the needs of the growing number of students universities should be seeking the new ways of transferring knowledge; the ways that will guarantee high quality and accommodate large numbers of students.
The economic crises the most recent starting ng in 2008 became the reason for significant cuts in federal funding for higher education institution. They also influenced the donors who facing with harder times where not as generous in giving. Roytek (2010) argues that global economic conditions are increasingly forcing organizations to downsize while simultaneously requiring an increase in productivity from their remaining reduced workforce.
With scarce funding available higher education institutions are constantly increasing student tuition fees, which even being high covers only a small share of all the expanses. Most colleges and universities enjoy nonprofit, tax-exempt status, which makes them less subject to scrutiny than other types of enterprises. When it comes to tuition, the schools generally claim that fees don’t begin to cover their costs (Hacker & Dreifus, 2010, p. 115). Cooperation with businesses would be one more way to generate income for higher education but here comes economic crises again.
Hacker & Dreifus (2010) maintain that “college physical plants have become more expensive. Dormitories once provided double-deck beds, a military mattress, and a battered desk. Cafeterias offered a set menu: eat it or leave it. No longer. Students expect and get suites, private bathrooms, and food courts with specialized stations” (p. 119).
Notwithstanding the economic hardships presidential salaries of colleges have been growing. If a college has athletics teams there are even more expenses to cover. Given the fiscal crisis of public education universities need to find new ways to satisfy the growing demand for higher education. In order to alleviate financial pressures universities should come up with alternative models of offering their services, including instruction. Reconsidering and supplementing the traditional means of instruction with the use of technology can offer a  possible solutions.

Traditional classrooms and new technology
When we talk about the new capabilities for instruction first of all we mean the internet with its capacity of video conferencing, asynchronous transfer of video, file sharing, testing, etc. The modern technologies “are beginning to have a significant impact not only on the method of delivery but on the structure and content of courses. There are currently three kinds of courses: traditional (in-school) courses, online courses in virtual classrooms and courses that combine the former and the latter. Taylor (2010) maintains that not all subjects lend themselves online instructions. It is essential that students learn how to read and write in traditional ways.   “Courses that use the latest media and communications technologies should supplement and not replace traditional courses” (p. 135).
Mayadas et al. (2009) maintain that a primary driver for online education is the presupposition of faculty and university administrators that a sizable population of potential learners exists—typically, working adults who wish to obtain college credit and credentials but who cannot do so because of time restraints imposed by work, family, community responsibilities, or lack of proximity to a suitable educational institution. Faculty members and institutions expected the asynchronicity and distance-independence of online education to be an answer for this population. Largely, this assumption has proven to be true (Mayadas et al., 2009, p. 51).
According to Taylor (2010) “it is correctly argued that education at every level should be the right of all and not the privilege of a few. In the absence of increased funding for financial aid, it will be necessary to undertake new institutional initiatives to expand educational opportunities without significantly increasing costs” (p. 163).
As colleges and universities grapple with financial pressures and the cost of higher education continues to escalate, it is going to be increasingly difficult for many schools and students to continue offering courses solely as they have in the past. To meet growing demand with fewer resources, virtual courses will become more popular. It is therefore important for educators to work to make this new ways of teaching as effective as possible” (Taylor, 2010, p. 126).
Criticizing the modern day research Taylor (2010) argues that “scholars are producing too much literature, yet saying too little, with very little synthesis of ideas”. He believes that more attention should be given to teaching and especially new technologies in education. However, Taylor (2010) laments that “many older faculty members resist learning about and using these technologies” (p. 121).  According to Taylor (2010) new technologies can give new life to higher education system and “a vibrant educational system is essential for democracy to thrive and individuals to prosper in our globalized world” (p. 6).
“Changes in how information is distributed and knowledge communicated will both create more competition in higher education and provide the occasion for new forms of cooperation at the local, national and even global level” (Taylor, 2010, p. 4). Taylor (2010) suggests that universities should cooperate in creating internet based instruction. He states that “parochial interest must be set aside to create global educational networks that will facilitate the production of new knowledge and encourage the free flow of intellectual and cultural capital. While the shape of these new institutions is far from clear, their general contours are beginning to emerge” (p. 17).
One of the best ways to strengthen colleges and universities is to “create ways to make them more adaptive to our rapidly changing world and to develop effective strategies for making higher education affordable and accessible to more people across the globe” (Taylor, 2010, p. 24). Taking advantage of the internet conferencing also addresses the growing need for internationalization and globalization. It can benefit the American students taking a year or semester abroad could still be taking online classes from the home university.   

Quality vs. quantity
In order not to compromise the quality of teaching and learning as well as the students services offered universities should seek alternative, cheaper and more engaging ways of transferring knowledge. The rapid development of technology and communications recently has a lot to offer in this respect. It is hard to imagine today that just 20 years ago nobody in higher education used email for communication. At some point it was not even considered reliable. However, with the global network increasing capacities and becoming hassle free email became integral means of everyday communication among faculty, students, offices, institutions. In fact today it serves as a signature and evidence.
 Although, oftentimes internet speed lives more to be desired, especially when it comes to video conferencing, streaming video classes are still becoming common in American universities. It is a different issue to what extent this new type of knowledge acquisition can substitute for face to face interaction, as students do not yet feel comfortable enough and indeed behave differently in online classes than they would in a real classroom. But for many students it certainly is a more convenient form of getting their education which saves time and money that otherwise had to be spent on commuting and parking. Taylor (2010) maintains that “while obviously not as desirable as the traditional face-to-face discussions, these technologies make it possible for faculty members to have contact with students outside the confines of the traditional classroom setting. It is going to become necessary for students to be less reliant on teachers and mentors and to assume more responsibility for their own education” (p. 15). As technology improves this type of teaching and learning will become even more popular, as it offers some obvious advantages to traditional classroom teaching, such as for instance instant file sharing, the possibility of revisiting the recorded video of the class, etc.
By altering the way information is distributed and knowledge is shared, “telecommunications technologies obscure the long-standing line between publication and teaching” (Taylor, 2010, p. 125). More and more books, journals and articles are being published in the electronic form. “Classrooms are being wired for videoconferencing as well as real-time and delayed audio transmission. With easy-to-use software and hardware, lectures and seminars can be readily transmitted across the globe” (Taylor, 2010, p. 125). The increasing quality of reception on digital devices like mobile phones, and tablets  further extends the range and availabitliy of courses offered on the Web. “With these developments, webcasts and podcasts make publication in the form of online teaching virtually ubiquitous and thus available to everyone. As networks spread and the demand for content grows, there will be new opportunities for creating and distributing educational materials” (Taylor, 2010, p. 125).
Taylor (2010) maintains that “in the past, cooperative arrangements were possible only for institutions sharing geographical proximity, but teleconferencing and the Internet exponentially expand the opportunities for cooperation. Some subjects can be completely outsourced; for example, let one college have a strong French department and another a strong department in German. In other cases, costs can be shared, splitting a faculty member’s time between two or more institutions, by alternating physical and virtual presence. For the first half of the semester what is taught at one college can be remotely transmitted to another, and for the second half of the term this process can be reversed. This arrangement would require institutions to collaborate more closely by establishing procedure for joint appointments. Faculty members would no longer be affiliated with a single college or university and would be required to become much more mobile. But telecommunications technologies also make it possible for people to be in multiple places at the same time” (p. 161).
Consolidation of resources among universities is of paramount importance for successful functioning. “Universities should form consortia that would allow the sharing of faculty in programs that are centered at one institution but have faculty distributed among several universities” (Taylor, 2010, p. 162). “Schools cannot and should not try to be everywhere but will have to have significant affiliations with other colleges and universities throughout the world. This is not merely a matter of economic necessity, but also an issue of educational responsibility” (Taylor, 2010, p. 163). Certainly, the mentioned transformations should happen without jeopardizing the quality of research and teaching.
Taylor (2010) maintains that “as networking technologies continue to spread and storage capacity and speed of data transmission increase, real-time online education will become both more convenient and more popular” (p. 164). Taylor (2010) further argues that “flexibility is, therefore, vitally important to more and more students. Physical presence in a school with a professor in the classroom is quickly becoming a luxury that fewer and fewer students can afford, and more and more believe unnecessary. From the fall of 2002 to the fall of 2007, online enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions increased from 1,602,970 (9 percent of total enrollment) to 3,939,111 (21.9 percent). It is hard to see why this trend will not continue” (p. 173). 

What does future hold?
Online instruction has obvious advantages as well as certain disadvantages and barriers compared to traditional classroom instruction. The primary advantage of online instruction indeed is the ability to teach disregarding the distance barriers. The modern technologies and the internet made it possible for a person to be at several places at the same time. Apparently more and more faculty will see value in using online availability to enhance the traditional classroom environment and more higher education institutions will provide for-credit online course offerings.
Ward et al. (2010) discussing the results of the survey done in University of Southern Mississippi state that “two additional dimensions of quality, ease of access and minimizing costs (other than tuition) of taking the course, were rated by students as being significantly higher for the two online formats than for the face-to-face format. In an era of escalating fuel prices, recessionary economic trends, and increasing awareness of access to online instructional opportunities, these are not surprising findings for course offerings that typically allow students access from home” (p. 73).
One of the disadvantages of online instruction is that it is not easy to facilitate verbal discussion, since many students still do not have the necessary comfort level to express their opinions in such setting plus there often are technical problems that hamper the process. Online courses offer discussion boards, however they do not provide the dynamic flow of ideas as does the live discussion. Collaboration between students is extremely important for learning, since students usually learn from each other. According to Bart (2011) striking the right balance between instructor workload and student needs is a three-phase process that requires adapting course materials and assignments, fostering student-to-student interaction, and managing instructor presence. Although there is a potential for improvement, sadly, the present state of online instructional delivery systems leave much to be desired in terms of student collaboration.
Ward et al. (2010) maintain that  “while online content is more accessible, obtaining information is only one stage of gaining command over complex content” (p. 60). They quote Hofer, Yu, and Pintrich (2004) who found that self-regulation of learning is difficult for most students. Students in online courses often have difficulty with comprehension and application of information (Ward et al., 2010).
Online instruction has influenced how higher education redefines teaching as universities understand the significance and move towards the paradigm of online teaching and learning. Despite the benefits of online teaching, many university faculty members tend to gravitate toward instructional practices that are most comfortable to them (Fish & Gill, 2009).
One cannot ignore the benefits the online instruction can have for both students and the educational institutions, however you cannot also ignore the disadvantages. Taking into account the present capabilities of online instruction teaching entire courses online may not be a good idea. The best option in order to take advantage of the obvious benefits and eliminate the disadvantages is for universities to offer blended courses. Mayadas et al. (2009) expect Internet use in courses to envelop all faculty, as blended approaches become the norm for college courses over the coming 5 to 10 years. Further improvements in internet capabilities are inevitable.  It is very realistic that the day is not far when students taking an online course will feel as confident and comfortable in online classes as they do in the traditional classrooms.

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