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2 years, 3 months
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Up to 12 months
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Virtual Service Pilot
3-6 months
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Virtual Service Pilot

Co-Design and Co-Teach University level Forensic Science Curriculum

Activity/project background

Partner: Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (Government)

The Kamuzu University of Health Science, formally known as University of Malawi, is a merger of two colleges, College of Medicine, and Kamuzu College of Nursing. The university has six campuses that are in Blantyre, Lilongwe, and Mangochi districts. The Medical Laboratory Sciences (MLS) department’s main office is based at the Blantyre campus.

The MLS department embarked on an ambitious project to introduce a new undergraduate program in Biomedical Forensic Science to address the needs of the nation in providing a competent cadre of forensic scientists. A needs assessment survey indicated that one of the biggest challenges faced by communities in Malawi is the lack of reliable evidence that can lead to proper handling of criminal and civil cases. The government and other stakeholders are doing their part in handling these issues and the MLS department would like to serve as a resource for information and training hub that is capable of handling sample collection, analysis, and proper dissemination of the information gathered.

Currently the MSL department staff lack the necessary skills in the forensic science field. The department is seeking a Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) to assist with the final stages of developing a forensic science curriculum and co-teaching some of the lectures to students enrolled in the course. The VSPP will be assigned to a counterpart who they will work with to teach the course. From time to time, the VSPP will join faculty meetings online where they will share what they are working on with their colleagues. Planning for courses that will be taught is done as a team, including discussion on student assessments, development of exams, and other aspects of teaching students.

The organization has previously collaborated with the Peace Corps in their other departments. They understand that the role of a VSPP is very different than a Peace Corps Response Volunteer

Engagement and tasks

The VSPP will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:

• Co-assess current courses available to students
• Co-design curriculum with existing courses and determine which new courses need to be developed to enhance the forensic science major curriculum
• Depending upon the skill set of the VSPP, design a relevant class related to the curriculum, and with fellow faculty co-teach it online
• Co-organize and conduct online training workshops and seminars for capacity development in areas identified by the faculty

As time in the engagement allows:
• Provide information that will help the MLS team as they improve Forensic Science laboratory
• Mentor faculty in key research areas

VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week. This engagement is estimated to be approximately 15 hours per week of which, 4 hours will involve online teaching together with faculty and students.

Online collaboration will generally occur between 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Malawi time. Specific times will be determined during orientation to factor in time zone differences and availability of the VSP.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to the KUHeS online platforms that faculty and students use to share information, send assignments, and lecture notes. They will also use Zoom and email for regular communication and collaboration.

Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Master’ degree in forensic science or related fields

• Experience in any of the following fields: forensic science, crime scene investigation, digital forensics, forensic toxicology, latent prints, chemistry related to forensic science, molecular biology, and bioinformatics
• Experience in criminal justice or legal studies - with or without registration with the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
• Experience in university level curriculum development

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

Education: PhD in any forensic science or related field

Language: Basic Chichewa may help in student interaction at times

• Experience with virtual engagement and communication
• Expertise working in a forensic laboratory
• Experience in online teaching of students from different knowledge backgrounds

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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