Category Archives: International

Templeton Fellows Reunion in Lithuania!

2015-11-02 13.01.48Belin-Blank Center Associate Director for Professional Development Laurie Croft recently went to Kaunas, Lithuania for the 3rd International Conference: Gifted Children: Challenges and Possibilities 2015, and she saw some familiar faces!  Dr. Croft (far left) poses above with Templeton Fellows who attended the 2008 Wallace Symposium as representatives of their countries.

To the right of Dr. Croft is Dr. Bronė Narkevičienė, Dean, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Kaunas University of Technology, site for the conference; Dr. Narayan Desai, Principal Investigator, Tribal Mensa Nurturing Program, India; and Dr. Pedro Sanchez Escobedo, Professor of Education, Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan, Mexico.

Congratulations, CSP!

China Scholars Program (CSP) students attend a graduation reception at the Belin-Blank Center with their families. Twelve students graduated this year and most plan to attend graduate school in the US. We wish them all the best!

Acceleration, Wilderness, and Everything In Between

While attending COGE at the University of New South Wales, Belin-Blank Center Director Susan Assouline met Jake Widjaya, who presented about his experiences as a gifted student with a limb difference.  He was accelerated, and he writes in TableAus, the magazine of Australian Mensa about his experiences participating in a wilderness program while two years younger than the other students.

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In Need of a Solution: Medical Care and Education in Gambia

Breonna Carroll is an Iowa Talent Project (ITP) student and is a photojournalism major and is also earning a Global Health Certificate. She recently finished her international requirements through the MHIRT program this summer and has been selected to present her photographic work and research at an art show in April. If you are interested in the environmental and health efforts in Africa, you won’t want to miss this event.

THE GAMBIA Artist Statement

As I sat scrunched in a rickety minivan traveling down an unmarked dirt road I saw the main Gambian dump site. For the first time in my life I silently watched as mothers, children and men scrupulously scavenged through plumes of smoke and refuse lumped together like mini volcanoes. All were diligently focused on finding a shiny reward of metal to turn into a pot, a spoon or tourist jewelry; anything that would turn into money. As a 20 year old African American who had never seen a dump site besides the one in Toy Story 3 I was completely baffled that an entire community was un-begrudgingly living with the suffocating stench of burning refuse. Why weren’t the people up in arms, pounding on their president’s door? I was sure I could rally a group of concerned citizens to flood the streets ready to clean. Not one thing was picked up.

Instead, for three months I listened. At the end the only thing that I had rallied together was the realization that in order for my concerns to be answered I must ask if they are the concerns of those whom they would most impact. It is not my job to tell people what they need, it is to help them see they have the capability to make a change.

The Gambian government has made major strides in providing its citizens with free or affordable healthcare. However, it is now time to focus on cleaning up the environment so that Gambian residents benefit fully from their government’s efforts. This is a brief visual documentation of the triumphs and shortcomings of a nation that deserves better. Through my lens I hope to tell the story of an emergent people who are strong and intelligent, but are also desperately in need of a solution.

Posting from Portugal

Our director’s caption: Heading to the conference venue…a bright and sunny day and enthusiasm abounds!

Belin-Blank Center Director Susan Assouline, conference organizer Alberto Rocha, Zenita Guenther (Brazil), and Cristina Palhares (Portugal).

Belin-Blank Center Director Susan Assouline, conference organizer Alberto Rocha, Zenita Guenther (Brazil), and Cristina Palhares (Portugal).

Talking Acceleration in Portugal

B-BC Director Susan Assouline is in Portugal, and she reports that educators everywhere struggle with similar issues in gifted education:


The day started with a three-hour workshop on acceleration! One of my favorite topics. In Portugal, Brazil, or the US, the issues are the same…

Impacting Gifted Education Worldwide

The Belin-Blank Center’s administrators have some exciting international presentations and workshops coming up – learn more about the places they’re headed to speak about gifted education.

Presentations Map



Click on the image above to enlarge.

Dr. Laurie Croft (Administrator, Professional Development) will be traveling to Quezon City in the National Capital Region of the Philippines at the end of November.

A Templeton Fellow, Dr. Leticia Peñano-Ho, invited Dr. Croft to do a two-day training about differentiation titled “Differentiation: A Whole School Program” in conjunction with the Philippine Center for Gifted Education‘s annual convention.

PCGE expects about 200 educators, but you can learn more about how to join them on their Facebook page.


Dr. Croft will also head to New Delhi in the Delhi National Capital Territory in India at the beginning of February.  She is on the planning committee for the 1st International Conference on Research in Education and Curriculum Planning for Gifted Minds (February 4 – 6), and she has also been invited to be a plenary speaker.  This conference has been spearheaded by the Jagadis Bose National Science Talent Search (JBNSTS), which is hoping to host similar events in the future.

While in India, Dr. Croft plans to work with another Templeton Fellow, Dr. Narayan Desai, and his wife, Dr. Devasena Desai (who was a Belin-Blank Fellow three years ago), as they collaborate with Jnana Prabodhini Institute of Psychology at Pune University (Maharashtra State) to launch a professional development program in gifted education.


Belin-Blank Center Director Dr. Susan Assouline will be in Portugal November 22-23 as a keynote speaker at the inaugural ANEIS conference in Porto, Portugal.  The conference theme is “Giftedness:  Challenges of teaching and learning in different contexts.”  The title of Dr. Assouline’s talk is “From Gifted Education to Talent Development:  A Global Perspective.”


In early January, Dr. Assouline will travel to Sydney to participate in the University of New South Wale’s (UNSW) Certificate of Gifted Education Program (COGE), which has been in existence since 1991.  She is looking forward to teaching the opening course, “Key Concepts and Issues in Gifted Education.”

COGE is offered through the UNSW Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre, which has partnered with the Belin-Blank Center since 1995.  A highlight of the partnership is Professor Miraca U.M. Gross’s co-authorship, with Professors Colangelo and Assouline, on A Nation Deceived.

The Netherlands

On November 1st, Director Emeritus Dr. Nicholas Colangelo will present at an international conference organized by the Center for the Study of Giftedness (CBO) and the Behavioural Science Institute of the Radboud University Nijmegen titled “Potential Development and Gifted Education.”

STEM & Sputnik

Yesterday, the University of Iowa College of Education and Dean Nicholas Colangelo welcomed visiting dignitaries from the National University of Science & Technology MISiS, Moscow, Russia.

The presentation focused on the State of Iowa STEM Initiative and featured Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and a panel that included Belin-Blank Center Director Susan Assouline.  Many of the speakers referenced Sputnik as a catalyst for gifted education and especially STEM education in the United States.

The Belin-Blank Center and B-BC Administrator Kate Degner covered the event on Twitter:

Global Meeting of the Minds

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The following was written by our Russian visitors from the National University of Science and Technology.

The group came to the University of Iowa (UI) to learn about various aspects of managing administration and finance at a major research university. They are interested in ways UI organizes student services, community engagement and athletic programs. Members of the group are administrators and faculty from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) “MISiS.”

The group is particularly focused on learning university management systems because NUST MISiS has entered a new stage in its academic, research, and faculty development. The long-term goal of this new strategic development is to make the top 100 list of leading international universities.

During their visit, the group visited various university offices and departments, such as the Office of Finance and Operations, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the UI Research Park, the UI Foundation.

Highlights of the visit

  • The unique identity of the university, including a very special student culture;
  • The diverse and efficiently managed student activities infrastructure;
  • The integrated computer support system;
  • The experience with investing to maximize profits for the university;

Practices we would like to adopt at our school

  • Paperless integrated system of information support for all services;
  • Intellectual property protection and commercialization of innovative technologies;
  • The creation and development of business incubators;
  • Comprehensive support of research projects;

Other issues that impressed us

  • The special place sport occupies in university life and culture;
  • High level of students’ self motivation in academic life as well extracurricular activities;
  • Variety and scale of volunteer and other community projects;
  • Wide proliferation of corporate management style.

Program Participants

Mr. Dmitry Aleksandrovich Konstantinov

Specialist in the Section of Cultural and Leisure Services of the Division of Co-curricular Activities and Student Services at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”

Ms. Nadezda Nikolaevna Makhalova

Head of the Educational Section of the Division of Academic Affairs at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”

 Ms. Ekaterina Nikolaevna Kropacheva

Senior specialist in the Section of Information Technologies and Student Services of the Division of Research and Innovation at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”

Dr. Vladimir Viktorovich Cheverkin

Senior research scientist in the Department of Physical Metallurgy of Non-Ferrous Metals at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”

Ms. Irina Sarkisovna Mirokhorova

Senior specialist in the Section of Accreditation and Educational Standards of the Division of Strategic Development at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”

 Mr. Sergey Olegovich Sychev,

Senior engineer in the Section of Information and Reports of the Division of Strategic Development at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”

 Mr. Andrey Igorevich Voronin

Specialist in the Section of Information Technologies and Student Services of the Division of Research and Innovation at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”

 Ms. Yulia Andreevna Svedushcheva

Specialist in the International Education Section of the Division of International Programs at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”

 Mr. Dmitry Vadimovich Philippov

Head of the Residence System at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”

 Mr. Viacheslav Leonidovich Gulya

Senior specialist in the Residence System at the National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”

Our Russian Visitors Met Herky!

In between presentations, visitors from the National University of Science and Technology (MISiS) in Russia got a chance to hang out with Herky yesterday:

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Globetrotting with the Belin-Blank Center

International Presentations

The presence of the Belin-Blank Center and the importance of its work continues to make an impact at the international level. Since our last newsletter, Director Nicholas Colangelo has given keynotes at two major international conferences. He gave a keynote at the national meeting on gifted students in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (Conselho Brasileiro para Superdotacao-ConBraSD) (July 25-27, 2012). Nick’s keynote was titled “Acceleration of gifted students: An international intervention” which focused on the work on acceleration at the Belin-Blank Center with an emphasis on our international surveys regarding acceleration. Nick also gave an invited presentation on the “Social-emotional needs of gifted students.”

Nick also presented the opening keynote at the 13th International ECHA Conference (September 12-15, 2012) in Munster, Germany. The keynote was titled “The cognitive and affective issues of acceleration: International applications.” At the same conference, Nick gave an invited workshop titled “Practical applications of acceleration in schools and at the policy level.”

These keynotes indicate the growing global interest in the research and applications of acceleration as well as the recognition of the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (IRPA) at the Belin-Blank Center.

National Presentation

Director Nicholas Colangelo, Associate Director Susan Assouline, and Head Administrator for IRPA Maureen Marron presented at the Council of Academic Deans from Research Institutions (CADREI) in Santa Barbara, CA (October 8-12, 2012).  CADREI is a national meeting of Deans and the invited presentation was titled “Preparing teachers to work with high-ability students:  What deans should know,” which focused on influencing the undergraduate curriculum in terms of preparing teachers to be effective with highly-capable students.  Particular emphasis was given to providing information to pre-service teachers on the consistent and robust research concerning the positive effects of acceleration on high-ability students in K-12 settings.

Message from the Director: International

The term “international” is well suited to the full title of the Belin-Blank Center.  As we embark this semester on our 25th anniversary as a center, it is instructive to recall that when we were designated a center in July of 1988, we served only the state of Iowa. Over the years we became national in scope, and now we are clearly international.

This past July, I presented a keynote address in Jerusalem (Associate Director Susan Assouline also presented a keynote address at the same conference in Jerusalem).  Later in the month, I also gave a keynote presentation in Rio de Janeiro.  I will be presenting in Germany in September.  In October, we will host a group of educators from Russia.  In early  January 2013, Susan will be presenting in Australia and then later  in January I will be presenting in Australia also.

The Belin-Blank Center has provided direct services in one form or another to over 60 countries.  We have student programs with China and Hong Kong and are developing a student program with India.  Our professional development program has served teachers from India, Korea, Russia, and several other countries.  Our staff has provided workshops for educators in India, Chile, and Mexico.

What I have learned in my travels is that the world is clearly seeing the importance of identifying and educating its gifted students.  It is also seeing the importance of preparing its teachers to be effective with such students.  Perhaps what is most striking to me when I am abroad is the respect that is held for the Belin-Blank Center.  We are seen as an advocate and ally whose research and services can advance gifted education in others’ homelands. There is trust that the work of the center has applications globally and that the center and its staff can be looked to for leadership and assistance.

Of course, we at the center also are shaped by the people and cultures of other countries.  We have learned much from our international partners.  I believe strongly that the future of the center and much of the future of gifted education will be influenced by the international community.  This is exciting and energizing, to say the least.  We serve Iowa and the nation even more effectively because we are an international center.

~Nicholas Colangelo

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International Week of the Gifted

Dr. Nicholas ColangeloThere have been exciting changes in gifted education over the past three decades.  I personally think one of the most exciting by far has been the continued growth and energy in the international area.  Giftedness has become a stronger international concept–the pronunciations vary but the concept remains steadfast–identifying and programming for students of exceptional academic and artistic strengths.  Such students are truly a global phenomenon and resource.

The International Week of the Gifted recognizes and celebrates our international ties.  The symbolic kite is appropriate because a kite flies past boundaries and will stay in the air as long as those of us  on the ground do our work.  Let us do our work on behalf of the world’s gifted students and let us keep the “kite” flying across borders.  Nick

Collaborating with Russian Educators

In late April, the Belin-Blank Center welcomed visitors from Moscow’s National University of Science and Technology (NUST) MISiS.  Their activities included discussions with University of Iowa officials, learning about TILE (Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage) classrooms, touring College of Engineering labs, meeting with Belin-Blank Center administrators about facilitating the STEM pipeline, and even attending a hip-hop showcase!

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The program and most handouts were translated into Russian to facilitate understanding, even though participants could all read English-language materials.

Thanks to everyone who made this visit possible!

Down Under and to the Left…

(L to R) Dr. Susan Assouline, Associate Director of the Belin-Blank Center; Professor Emirita Miraca Gross; Ms. Bronwyn MacLeod

Greetings from down under!  I’m spending the week in Sydney with gifted colleagues, Professor Emirita Miraca Gross (center),  and Ms. Bronwyn MacLeod (right), where I have the honor of serving as the international guest lecturer for the 23rd session of the University of New South Wales COGE (Certificate of Gifted Education).   It’s easy to adjust to the change in climate (it’s summer and there are many hours of sunlight . . . ).  The time difference is a bit more challenging.  But this group of educators is bright and passionate and very energizing which makes the minor inconveniences well worth it.

Another adjustment is walking on the left side of the street,  hallway, and stairs, or even just figuring out where the up/down escalators are (hint:  think left).  Shifting to the left was the (unintentional) theme of my first lecture:  Definitions of Giftedness and Talent:  Key Influences and Influencers.  We started with a historical perspective, which connected us with the development of IQ tests and a psychometric approach to thinking about giftedness . . . and we concluded with a discussion based upon the comprehensive monograph by Subotnik, Olszewski-Kubilius, and Worrell (2011), “Rethinking Giftedness and Gifted Education:  A proposed Direction Forward Based on Psychological Science,” in Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

We’re off to a great start.  Today (or tomorrow, depending on where you are in the world), we’ll tackle twice-exceptionality – and we’ll have pictures of the members of COGE.

B-BC’s Laurie Croft Tours Schools in India

Dr. Laurie Croft of the Belin-Blank Center recently visited several schools in India:  

We visited this school on 27 September—these students are tribal children who stay at the Kamshet Campus, a residential program supported by the government and by private foundations. Dr. Narayan Desai has given the students a Mensa exam to determine who could benefit from enriched or accelerated academic programs, and I was their special guest, awarding certificates for those who achieved the highest scores on the exam.

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Indian Educators Tour the Center

As we mentioned in an earlier post, the Belin-Blank Center welcomed visiting educators from India on September 8th.  Check out a few pictures from their visit:

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Thanks to everyone who made this visit possible!

Indian Educators Visiting the Center Sept. 8th

Twenty educators from schools across the Republic of India will visit the Belin-Blank Center on September 8th as part of a longer visit to the College of Education and the local community.

Representing K-12 schools, some of the principals coordinate educational programs for as many as 100,000 students.

As a part of the Hawkeye experience, the Center is hosting dinner for the educators at Burge Residence Hall and a reception in the lobby of Blank Honors Center September 8th from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.  If you’re in the area, join us!