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IDPP Annual Meeting and Inaugural CIDP Residency Begins

 The energy in the air was palpable at the opening of the highly anticipated IDPP Annual Meeting residency-cidp-students-nel.png and inaugural two-week residency for the Master’s of in Comparative and International Disability Policy (CIDP). The CIDP Program, offered by American University’s School of International Service and directed by AU Associate Professor Dr. Derrick L. Cogburn, is a completely virtual graduate program, but has a  two-week face-to-face residency that started on July 18 in Bangkok, Thailand. The residency introduced the first cohort of CIDP graduate students to the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) for the ASEAN Region, its university and outreach partners, and to key concepts that will be developed further in classes and seminars during the CIDP program.

Pictured: IDPP Program Director with incoming CIDP students at the residency opening dinner

Following a competitive admissions process, ten students with disabilities from four ASEAN countries (Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines) were admitted to the CIDP program, and began the residency organized by the IDPP in collaboration with partner institutions Mahidol University and the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD). Each of these students was awarded a full fellowship to the CIDP program. The fellowships were funded by The Nippon Foundation as part of the grant to the Center for Research on Collaboratories and Technology Enhanced Learning Communities (COTELCO), a joint research center at American University and Syracuse University to establish the IDPP. At the opening of the IDPP Annual Meeting, students were joined by representatives from eight partner universities, several outreach institutions and Advisory Board members, including Executive Director of The Nippon Foundation Mr. Shuichi Ohno; Dean Louis Goodman of American University’s School of International Service; Senator Monthian Buntan of the Kingdom of Thailand; and Ambassador Luis Gallegos, Chairman of the Global UN Partnership for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, Chairman of the Global Universal Design Commission, and former Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States. Ambassador Gallegos has also been appointed by American University as an IDPP adjunct faculty member in the SIS International Communication Program, and will teach a fall CIDP course on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Ambassador Gallegos is one of six faculty members participating physically in the two-week residency. In addition to Dr. Cogburn (who will teach the fall course in Research Methods), other faculty members participating from Bangkok include: Dr. Amitav Atcharya, Professor and Chair of the ASEAN Studies Center at American University; Dr. Pek Koon Heng, Assistant Professor and Director of the ASEAN Studies Center; Dr. Nora B. Shannon, Associate Professor at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology; and Ms. Theresa Christine Benitez-dela Torre, Director of the Center for Education Access and Development at De La Salle Philippines-College of Saint Benilde. Also in Bangkok for the residency is Mr. Dan Demming, Director of the Inter-Cultural Management Institute at American University. Participating virtually in the residency are: Dr. Nanette Levinson, Associate Professor and Director of the International Communication Program at American University; Mr. Clement Ho, Assistant Librarian at American University; Ms. Kathy Schwartz, Director of Academic Support Services at American University; and Mr. Kamran Rasul, Assistive Technology Specialist of Disability Support Services at American University.

Highlights from the opening day of the residency included two press conferences - one in-person and one virtual - that engaged journalists from Radio Free Asia, The Nation, ASEAN TV, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation. IDPP Executive Director Dr. Cogburn joined Mr. Ohno to speak about the unprecedented nature of the program, and to introduce the delegations from partner institutions. A particularly special moment came when two incoming students – Mr. Khy Huy of Cambodia and Mr. Raphael Domingo of the Philippines – shared their personal stories of living with disabilities, the hardships they have faced thus far as a result of inequitable public policy, and how the CIDP program will help them achieve their goals of creating more accessible policies and promoting a barrier-free global society.

During the opening ceremony luncheon, Dr. Tej Bunnag, Chairperson of the APCD Executive Board, opened the ceremony with very warm welcoming remarks; Mr. Ohno and Dr. Cogburn both gave opening remarks and background to the IDPP; and Dr. Amitav Acharya delivered a poignant keynote address, which spoke about the need for an inclusive, people-centered ASEAN region and how the IDPP is helping to fill this void.

The IDPP’s inaugural Advisory Board meeting took place in the afternoon, which included a signing ceremony inducting the IDPP’s four newest partner institutions. The IDPP is delighted to officially welcome the University of Indonesia (Jakarta, Indonesia); the University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia); De La Salle Philippines; and Ateneo de Manila University (Manila, Philippines) into the IDPP network.

 The IDPP Advisory Board and staff in attendance during the inaugural Annual Meeting
The IDPP Advisory Board and staff in attendance during the inaugural Annual Meeting

The energy from all who were part of opening day events continues to reverberate this week, as people share ideas, brainstorm solutions, and develop connections with each other.