Smith Named as Official Academic Planning Partner of Asian Women’s Leadership University
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 20:04
Recently, Smith signed on to become a chief academic planning partner of the Asian Women’s Leadership University (AWLU) in Malaysia for the next three years. During this critical period, Smith will assist AWLU with designing its curriculum, co-curricular programs, leadership courses and practicums. At the same time, Smith will provide guidance on admission, faculty recruitment and college administration.
Three Smith alumnae, Barbara Hou ’03, the president of the project, Mona Sinha ’88 and Hoon Eng Khoo ’73, founded the AWLU project in 2010 to create a place for women’s liberal arts education in Asia. Their goal is to educate and empower women to become leaders in the advancement of social, political and economic development in Asia. The project was also conceived as a way to honor the education the alumnae received at Smith College and extend such power to new areas.
The planning partnership is “congruent with Smith’s mission, resonant with our history and consistent with our global strategy,” said President Carol Christ. “The intellectual challenge of imagining and planning a women’s college in Asia for the 21st century is compelling.”
The three-year planning partnership aims to help AWLU achieve its goal of inauguration in 2015, when 100 students representing different ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds are expected to enroll in temporary facilitates.
Though AWLU resembles the Seven Sisters Colleges in various ways, its curriculum will be personalized to cater to Asian students. Smith has promised to work with leading academics from Asia and the Middle East to devote special attention to the development of the leadership project within the curriculum.
On March 17, Hou gave a speech at TEDxLSE, an independently organized TED event at the London School of Economics, entitled “Women Who Will Change the World: Transforming Women’s Leadership in Asia Through Higher Education.” She addressed not only her own motivation for launching the project, but also the urgency for women in Asia to receive high quality liberal arts educations.
Smith students have also taken important roles in the development of AWLU.
On March 1, the Southeast Asian Alliance held a conference on “Fostering Women’s Leadership in Southeast Asia” and invited Hou as a keynote panelist.
The conference consisted of two panels. The first panel invited AWLU campus representatives from Mount Holyoke College to talk about women’s education and leadership in Asia. The second panel focused on how the AWLU project progressed from a mere concept to what it has become today.
“AWLU has the potential to play a huge role in promoting women’s leadership in Southeast Asia. There aren’t many young women in that area of the world who pursue an education beyond high school,” said Krystle Sevilla ’12, curator of the conference. “I believe our panelists did an excellent job in addressing these issues and making the case for women’s leadership not only in Southeast Asia, but also in the developing world.”
Speaking of her own role promoting awareness of women’s leadership initiatives in Asia, Sevilla said, “Besides the panel, Southeast Asian Alliance has donated money to the AWLU Project, and we are currently in the ‘Friends Circle.’ After graduation, I can definitely see myself getting more involved in women’s leadership initiatives in the region.”
AWLU’s next step is to engage the international student body in the establishment of AWLU.
On April 6, Hou will talk specifically about women’s education in relation to international students at Bryn Mawr College.
From April 6 to 8, AWLU is going to participate in the Malaysia Forum at the University of Pennsylvania and talk about the status quo of the education system in Malaysia and an alternative solution such as the AWLU project.
Because the two current campus representatives at Smith College are graduating, AWLU is looking for new representatives to become involved. If you are interested, contact Carolyn Hou ’12 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Xuanzi Jia ’12 (email@example.com) or firstname.lastname@example.org.