Interview with Joan Petit regarding her work in Ethiopia in conjunction with IGI Global's book donation

IGI Global Donates Books to Ethiopia: Interview with Joan Petit Reveals All

By IGI Global on Apr 11, 2017
Emerging Research TrendsProfessor Joan Petit
IGI Global recently donated ten titles to Jimma University, which is a well-established, public university in southwestern Ethiopia. This institution offers a range of programs, including engineering and medicine, but it can be both expensive and challenging to purchase academic materials in Ethiopia. Therefore, when Fulbright Scholar, Joan Petit, requested assistance, IGI Global was eager to deliver.

Joan Petit is an associate professor and the communications and outreach librarian at Portland State University (PSU) in Oregon. She is currently taking a sabbatical from PSU and is serving as a Fulbright Scholar at Jimma University in Ethiopia.

She recently took some time out of her busy schedule to collaborate with Elizabeth Leber, promotions assistant, to discuss her ventures in Ethiopia.

What do you plan to do in Ethiopia?

In Ethiopia, I am in the information science (IS) department at Jimma University, and I am teaching information science classes to first-year IS graduate students. I am also giving some guest lectures on other campuses, helping with programs at the public library in Jimma and conducting a research project.

How did you get involved with teaching less economically developed countries (LEDCs)?

I have a personal connection to Ethiopia: my kids, whom my husband and I adopted, were born here. Years ago, when I joined the library faculty at Portland State, I realized that, after tenure, I would be eligible to take a sabbatical. Since then, I have hoped to be able to work here as a Fulbright Scholar, in part to give something back to the country that has given me so much. This is not my first time working overseas. From 2007-2009, I worked as a librarian at the American University in Cairo, Egypt as well.

What ages are the students you teach and what subject area(s) do you teach?
Emerging Research TrendsProfessor Joan Petit's Students
My students are first-year graduate students working toward a master’s degree in information science. Some are young, full-time students, though many have worked at least a few years before returning to school; others are full-time professional library and technology staff who received their undergraduate degrees many years ago.

How will this donation help with your plans in Ethiopia?

In Ethiopia, English is the language of instruction for higher education, and higher education is growing fast, with a great deal of investment from the government. However, Ethiopia has only a small academic publishing industry, and most instructors use research and course materials from other countries including India, Great Britain and the United States. Textbooks are often expensive; the cost of shipping makes it even more prohibitive. Instructors often use old textbooks held by the library because they simply cannot get newer editions. This is particularly a problem in library and information science, as our field is developing quickly and books can become outdated within a few years of publication. The IGI Global books are a great addition to the university’s collection of current materials on information and library science. The information science graduate students are Ethiopia’s future librarians and directors of information centers, and their work will benefit so many of Ethiopia’s students.

What type of research do you do?

My research project here looks at open educational resources (OER) and if they might be feasible given real limitations in infrastructure, including power interruptions and limited Internet bandwidth.
A sincere thanks to Professor Joan Petit for sharing her story and collaborating with IGI Global for a worthy cause. Please take a moment to view her co-authored chapter “Innovation on a Shoe String: High Impact Space and Technology Updates in a Low-Funding Environment” within the title Cases on Higher Education: Spaces: Innovation, Collaboration, and Technology, along with a select few of the books IGI Global donated to Jimma University below.

Newsroom Contact:
Elizabeth Leber
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(717) 533-8845, ext. 132
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