The Atlantic Coast Conference has awarded a grant under its International Academic Collaborative to help support Virginia Tech students in conducting independent research focused on a global security topic in Europe.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) International Academic Collaborative is a joint effort to expand study abroad opportunities and to realize the potential of global collaborations for research and service. Under the collaborative’s Global Team Research Project, a pilot program, grants of $4,000 each have been awarded to Virginia Tech, Boston College, North Carolina State, and the University of Miami.

At Virginia Tech, the grant will be used to supplement a study abroad program coordinated in collaboration with the Virginia Tech-Howard University Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence. Twelve students will spend part of this summer in Eastern Europe, taking economics and global marketing classes and working on team projects related to economic issues.

The ACC grant will fund an additional project for four of the Virginia Tech study abroad team, said Matthew McMullen, program director of the university’s Education Abroad office in Outreach and International Affairs’ Office of International Research, Education, and Development. The four-student team will identify a specific topic related to global security in Europe, and will prepare briefing materials and a detailed analysis that simulate the types of materials required by policy and decision makers.

“This exercise will teach the students how to work as an interdisciplinary team to answer questions of global importance,” McMullen said. “The students must use critical thinking and analysis to synthesize large amounts of information into the essential elements needed to inform and make decisions.”

The ACC-funded students also will produce a website that can be shared with other ACC universities and a video for distribution via social media.

Ashwin Amanna, co-director of the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Intelligence and a senior research associate in the Virginia Tech College of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, chose the 12 students who will participate in the study abroad program.

The study abroad team includes undergraduates ranging from freshmen to seniors, as well as a master’s degree student. The students represent the College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and College of Natural Resources.

Yannis Stivachtis, an associate professor and director of international studies in the Department of Political Science, and Leslie Pendleton, director of undergraduate affairs for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, are working with McMullen and Amanna as advisers on the global security project.

The $4,000 ACC grant also will serve as seed money for possible larger projects, said McMullen, who, in concert with Amanna and Stivachtis, hopes to coordinate future global security projects each year in different countries.


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