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UMD awarded U.S. Department of State grant to expand education abroad

New grant, UMD partnership with Bowie State expands global study abroad for marginalized faculty and students, Pell grantees

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Group photo of SPH students in Brazil
Photo caption: The University of Maryland School of Public Health, in collaboration with Bowie State University and in honor of Lt. Richard Collins III, will enhance study abroad opportunities for marginalized people through an grant supported by the U.S. Department of State. The grant will enhance earlier efforts to diversify global education, including a 2024 SPH trip to Brazil.

The University of Maryland School of Public Health in College Park, together with Bowie State University, is expanding its study abroad options for marginalized faculty and students and for students who are Pell Grant recipients, in part due to a grant announced June 13 from the U.S. State Department. The schools were among a select 37 institutions nationwide to receive this 2024 grant.

The award will connect underrepresented faculty and students from both universities with opportunities to study global public health in Rwanda, focusing on countering violent extremism, prevention of emerging tropical infectious diseases, and other grand public health challenges. The project will enable the UMD and BSU launch of a new global public health learning site in Rwanda and the expansion of the schools’ public health efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The grant, a partnership between the universities, honors the life and legacy of Lt. Richard Collins III, a Bowie State student who was murdered on the UMD campus by an SPH student in 2017. 

“My son would be so heartened to know that his legacy of service and leadership continues beyond his lifetime,” said Lt. Collins’ mother, Dawn Collins. “Richard once told me, ‘Mom, you know the world is going to know my name.’ I hope when people think of him, they know that his memory endures to repel the forces of hate and racism. Lt. Richard Collins’ name is a force for peace and for building bridges where we improve and celebrate our health and humanity.”

The 18-month, $35,000 grant is the first time the U.S. State Department has awarded an IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students) grant to the University of Maryland. The grant program funds projects to create, expand and diversify study abroad programs and resources that align with U.S. foreign policy goals.

“This grant gives us an opportunity to build global health partnerships in Rwanda as well as both the momentum and resources to continue breaking down the barriers that keep marginalized students and students from lower-income backgrounds from taking part in the full scope of opportunities to practice global health and engage in global justice issues,” said Dr. Beth Douthirt Cohen, SPH DEI Activist-in-Residence. 

Douthirt Cohen conceived of the project, with support from SPH Assistant Dean Erin McClure, and partnered with Bowie State and the Collins Foundation to bring the project to fruition, expanding on a restorative partnership with the Collins family. 

The project also reflects SPH Strategic Plan goals, including to expand and diversify local and global collaborations to improve public health.

“Through this partnership with UMD and Rwanda, Bowie State University faculty and students are afforded an opportunity to explore, collaborate, and address global public health issues in Rwanda,” said BSU Associate Dean of the College of Professional Studies Dr. Matasha L. Harris. “We are elated about this project and the opportunity to expand our global footprint.” 

Participating faculty will be new to study abroad and the courses developed will be incorporated into public health degree programs or general education requirements.   

“The U.S. Department of State is proud to support these U.S. colleges and universities as they build capacity for more American students to study abroad in diverse locations around the world. Increasing the number of U.S. students with international experiences is part of our investment in ensuring that our country’s future leaders have the skills they need in fields ranging from global health to technology and innovation,” said Heidi Manley, chief of USA Study Abroad.

For McClure, the grant helps lay a foundation for partnerships that contribute to healing historic inequities, address the disproportionately low number of marginalized faculty teaching and students studying abroad, and grow powerful global relationships.

“With this grant and other efforts across our school, UMD’s School of Public Health is growing pathways for all our students to build connections and do public health good in the world,” McClure said.



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