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A Peace Corps University

09 Dec Posted by in Academics | 4 comments

We had occasion this week to sign a 5-year extension of an arrangement with the Peace Corps, whereby volunteers can participate in several of our Masters programs before and/or after service and gain some credit for their Peace Corps work itself. The arrangement — and Mason is not the only university to have one — was negotiated amid some complexities; it’s always amazing and a bit disturbing how difficult inter-interstitutional collaborations can be, with accreditation rules on our side a major stumbling block at times. But it has worked very well. We have had, or have in process, over 30 students. We’ve been able to add a program for the current extension, in conflict resolution, which the Corps is very excited about.

And it’s an occasion additionally to note broader relationships between the Peace Corps effort and what we do at Mason. We’ve had over 240 Mason graduates serve in the Corps. I know from talking with students what a great fit this kind of service is with Mason training and with longer term career aspirations. It turns out, as well, that the Corps hopes to expand and also that other kinds of focused collaborations may be worth discussing, where for example both the Corps and the university are targeting new initiatives (for example, in Sierra Leone).

So the chance to celebrate something that’s worked and to build additional elements for the future was a welcome one at a time of year when simply keeping one’s head above water often seems challenge enough.