Edmondson Serving on Obama-Medvedev Commission Working Group
by Joe Savrock (December 2009)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Jacqueline Edmondson, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies in Penn State's College of Education, has been selected to serve as a member of the Obama-Medvedev Commission. The Commission, officially known as the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, was announced July 6, 2009 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russia President Dmitry Medvedev during Obama's visit to Moscow.
Comprised of American and Russian government officials and leaders of business, non-governmental organizations, and professional sports associations, the Obama-Medvedev Commission was created as a way to improve communication and cooperation between the governments of the two countries.
Edmondson is one of 17 U.S. officials and experts chosen to the Commission’s Working Group on Education, Culture, Sports, and Media—one of sixteen working groups created under the initiative. She and her American colleagues traveled to Moscow Dec. 7–9 for bilateral meetings with their Russian counterparts. The American delegation was led by U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A. McHale.
McHale and Russian Special Presidential Envoy for International Cultural Cooperation, Ambassador Mikhail Shvydkoy, presided over the meetings, which were seen as a first step to find ways to increase cultural, educational, and sports ties between the two nations. The groups reached consensus on a number of recommendations and initiatives:
- In elementary, secondary, and higher education, the parties intend to develop new educational and research initiatives in science, language acquisition and proficiency, teacher education, and professional development. The group also intends to expand existing exchange mechanisms, such as the Fulbright Program and university partnerships.
- In culture, the participants hope to develop events in both countries to celebrate the traditions, accomplishments, and aspirations. They also will examine innovative use of the Internet to convey the dynamism of the cultures to students in both countries.
- In sports, the group plans to initiate a pilot exchange of young nonprofessional student athletes in several team sports, including hockey, basketball, beach volleyball, and swimming, with possible future expansion into other sports. The participants will also continue discussions to identify areas of cooperation in media.
“While we discussed many promising initiatives during our meetings, I am particularly interested in the possibilities for collaboration in teacher education and public education,” said Edmondson. “Next year is the Year of the Teacher in Russia, and fairly significant revisions to teacher education are under way. It will be exciting to see what these changes include and what we may learn from and with them.”
Edmondson noted that Russia has unveiled a new education policy known as The New School. “Part of the focus of this policy is to develop the talents and potential of each individual child,” she said. “I am looking forward to learning more about this, particularly as the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is dealt with here in the United States.”
Edmondson pointed to the “long and complicated history” of the two countries. “John Quincy Adams was the first U.S. representative to Russia in 1809,” she said, “and our two countries recently celebrated over 200 years of diplomatic relations. Yet that history has too often been riddled with fear and misunderstanding. I am hopeful that the Commission’s attention to education will help to build new and better understandings across the people and governments of our two countries, and that these initiatives will lead to new possibilities for young people that are productive and foster peaceful collaborations.”
The next meeting of the Working Group on Education, Culture, Sports, and Media is planned for March 2010 in the United States.