New Course and Collaboration to Focus on Problems Caused by Pandemic

Professors Raj Rao and Rogelio Garcia Contreras
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Professors Raj Rao and Rogelio Garcia Contreras

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Faculty members Raj Rao in the College of Engineering and Rogelio Garcia Contreras in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas will co-teach a new course this fall focused on community response to problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The special topics course, Global Perspectives: Changemakers Under Covid-19, is expected to help students relate to the difficulties associated with the local manifestation of global problems.

U of A students will be given an opportunity to collaborate with a network of students, faculty and community partners in Bangalore, India, who are also addressing similar problems in the context of their own circumstances.

Partnering with BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore, the U of A faculty and students will focus on developing new innovations to medical devices and protective equipment for patients and frontline workers of the pandemic.

"Now that our world is gradually but unequivocally experiencing the economic and social effects of the COVID-19 crisis, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the urgent and vivid manifestation of some of the emerging problems," said Garcia Contreras, clinical faculty member in the Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Venture Innovation. "Understanding that we live in an interdependent world, where the well-being of one individual is intrinsically connected to the well-being of the entire ecosystem, we hope to foster a multidisciplinary, cross-cultural collaboration, which we think is the best way to solve these problems."

"With this course, we hope to bring together students from different backgrounds and disciplines to understand the difficulties associated with current global and local circumstances," said Rao, professor and head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. "We will analyze opportunities to bring innovations to market, and possibly coordinate transnational efforts to implement and scale the development and impact of new innovations."

The purpose of the class is to:

  • Connect entrepreneurial students from different parts of the world and help them understand each other's challenges, resources and socio-economic circumstances.

  • Encourage students to work together to design viable and sustainable solutions to some of the challenges as they manifest in local circumstances.

  • Engage students in an open-source, global dialogue of changemakers and innovators.

  • Expand the social capital of students at home by inviting them to collaborate in the design and potential implementation of local solutions.

  • Foster cross-cultural empathy and solidarity.

  • Promote international and multidisciplinary collaboration to ensure that common problems are solved with common solutions.

Global Perspectives: Changemakers Under Covid-19 is part of Arkansas Global Changemakers, an initiative offering students an opportunity to connect with others around the world and to focus on problems common to all people.

The virtual course — cross-listed as MGMT 4103 Special Topics in Management and BMEG 460V Individual Study Course — will meet from 8 to 9:15 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays during the fall 2020 semester.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3 percent of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring

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Contacts

Raj Rao, head
Department of Biomedical Engineering
479-575-8610, rajrao@uark.edu

Rogelio Garcia Contreras, director of social innovation
Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Venture Innovation
479-575-6716, rogeliog@uark.edu

Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations
479-575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu

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