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Cross-cultural Collaboration Inspired by a Sustainable Building Course in Costa Rica

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Humanitarian and Sustainability in a Global Engineering Context

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Rodolfo Valdes-Vasquez Colorado State University

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Rodolfo Valdes-Vasquez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University. He is committed to advancing research and teaching in the sustainability of infrastructure projects. He believes that educating the next generation of professionals will play a pivotal role in making sustainability a standard practice.

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Caroline Murrie Clevenger P.E.

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Caroline M. Clevenger is an Associate Professor and Assistant Director of Construction Engineering and Management in the Department of Civil Engineering at University of Colorado Denver. Her background includes work as a professional consultant in sustainable design and construction. Her research focuses on sustainability and tools and methods for systems thinking.

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Laura Thornes

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Laura Thornes directs the Education Abroad unit in the Office of International Programs at Colorado State University (CSU). She has nearly 20 years of professional experience in the field of international education in many roles including administration, teaching, advising, research, and leading groups abroad. In 2017, CSU supported over 1,450 education abroad participants through study, research, internships, and service learning opportunities. Programs like Sustainable Building in Costa Rica represent CSU's interest in increasing the number of STEM majors abroad to improve retention and persistence and to help graduates be more prepared for the global workforce.

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Svetlana Olbina

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Developing successful study abroad programs challenges many higher education institutions. One particular aspect is the development of strong partnerships with institutions hosting the students. This paper provides a discussion of some of the main challenges and lessons learned from a successful partnership between two international universities that have created a study abroad program focusing on sustainable building practices with the aim to prepare students for global sustainability challenges. The program incorporates lectures, guest speakers, field trips, students’ presentations, as well as individual and group activities. Also, students have a 2-night-stay with local families and participate in a service-learning project, all of which impact student thinking, cultural awareness, and social connectivity. Having these multiple learning activities posed challenges in the organization and execution of the program. However, students have developed critical skills to communicate with others from different backgrounds. The significance of this paper is to provide lessons learned to help others better understand the challenges of developing a successful partnership among international universities.

Valdes-Vasquez, R., & Clevenger, C. M., & Thornes, L., & Olbina, S. (2018, June), Cross-cultural Collaboration Inspired by a Sustainable Building Course in Costa Rica Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah.

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