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Global Engagement Champions

We are announcing a new series of feature stories called Global Engagement Champions. In this series, you will find stories about our faculty and staff who bring global opportunities that transform the lives of many students, those whose research impacts communities across the continent, and those who touch the lives of others through their outreach activities. You can nominate yourself or a colleague to be featured in the series by emailing

We would like to present to you our first global engagement champion, Dr. Sam Swan, Professor of Journalism and Electronic Media, and Director of Global Programs and Outreach at the College of Communication and Information.

Swan has received two Fulbright Specialist awards that allowed him to teach at the University of Zagreb in Croatia in 2012 and two universities in Ethiopia in 2015. Swan recently received a grant from the US Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia that involves both the design and delivery of an online course in Serbia and a student exchange between the University of Tennessee and three universities in Serbia.

Read more about Dr. Swan’s global impact. 


In celebration of AAPI Cultural Heritage Month, our Global Engagement Champion for May is Dr. Joe Zhuang, Professor of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science and Program Coordinator of the China Scholars Program. 

Zhuang founded the China-UT EcoPartnership Scholars Program for PhD students, the largest program for students between UT and China. Zhuang currently serves as the project leader of the international research coordination network for “Creating Transdisciplinary Nodes of Food-Energy-Water to Support Sustainable Urban Systems” (FEWSUS). Zhuang’s work has been recognized and funded by the US National Science Foundation for his efforts in urban sustainability. 

Read more about Dr. Zhuang’s global impact.

Samara AkpovoDr. Samara Madrid Akpovo, Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies and Director of the Intercultural and Classroom Culture Research Lab, is our June Global Engagement Champion. Akpovo’s global impact comes from her cross-cultural and intercultural research and teaching collaborations with early childhood education colleagues in Nepal, Australia, and New Zealand. Akpovo co-developed an international early childhood teacher education program entitled, Collaborative Online Learning Across Borders (COLAB), which is a virtual exchange module to foster intercultural competence and sensitivity among university students. Throughout the four years of implementing COLAB, Akpovo’s work has been recognized and awarded on numerous occasions including a Global Catalyst Grant, Teaching and Learning Innovation Teaching Support Award, and most recently honored with the Frances Speight Clark Faculty Enrichment and Development Award in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

Read more about Dr. Akpovo’s global impact.