ICMA’s first international student chapter was established in February 2014 in partnership with Kardan University in Kabul, Afghanistan. A second, with Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, was formalized in March. These chapters join the student chapters at colleges and universities in the United States, bringing the total to 40.
The ICMA Student Chapter Program
ICMA began its student chapter program in 2010 to engage and excite students about the local government management profession, connect them to ICMA resources and members in service in the field, and strengthen ties between practitioners and academic professors.
Programming and content activities are developed through the partnership between ICMA and the school. The chapters hold regular meetings, coordinate presentations from guest speakers, and engage with other chapters. Members of student chapters are encouraged to establish groups in the Knowledge Network, hosted by ICMA, to facilitate communication.
Kardan University, Kabul
ICMA has carried out funded technical assistance programs in Afghanistan since 2004 and became connected with Kardan University through other ICMA partners in Afghanistan in late 2013. The university is working on an orientation to introduce students to the concept of a student chapter and to ICMA. The university hopes the chapter will help better educate students about subnational government in Afghanistan and around the world and plans to take advantage of the Knowledge Network to connect students with local government professionals across the globe.
Kardan University was established in 2002 to provide quality yet affordable education to the youth of Afghanistan. Starting as a provider of one-year diploma programs in business administration, information technology, and English language, Kardan offered undergraduate bachelor programs in 2006 and became the first institution of higher learning in Afghanistan in the private sector to offer a comprehensive curriculum for the country's future economists, lawyers, computer scientists, civil engineers, and business managers.
In addition to classroom education, Kardan emphasizes career development for its students. In 2013, the school was awarded the prestigious “Top Performer Award” by the Afghanistan government’s Ministry of Higher Education and was granted university status.
“Kardan University is excited about the establishment of the ICMA student chapter,” says Roeen Rahmani, chancellor of Kardan University. “We are determined to offer our student body the knowledge, worldwide connectivity, and innovative opportunities to become involved in local government in Afghanistan. The ICMA student chapter is yet another step in globalizing Kardan University’s presence while contributing to the economic growth and development of Afghanistan.”
Comenius University, Bratislava
The student chapter at Comenius University has 13 members at various academic levels, from bachelor’s degree through Ph.D. Planned activities include taking part in relevant conferences and workshops, visiting local council meetings, and participating in projects—in cooperation with local governments if possible. Chapter members also plan to translate examples from ICMA’s Annual Awards program to serve as examples for discussion. And they hope to engage in real-time chats or Skype calls with other chapters and start a Facebook page to promote the chapter.
According to Lubica Simkova, a first-year Ph.D. student and president of the chapter, the student chapter “is a great opportunity to show students more than what they can learn in class. Through our chapter we would like to give students an opportunity to get practical skills, show them what it really means to work in municipalities, and give them an opportunity to learn different ways to improve the environment of municipalities (and also the attitude of citizens) and to bring best practices we can find abroad.”
Luboslava (Luba) Vávrová , Ph.D., executive director of the Local Government Development Center, a nongovernmental organization, spearheaded the student chapter initiative as a step in increasing local government professionalism in Slovakia. She is also a member of the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Institute of Public Policy and Economics, at the university. Vávrová serves on the ICMA Annual Awards evaluation panel. She was a senior advisor for the USAID-funded Training in Municipal Management and Governance program implemented by ICMA in Slovakia in the 1990s, and she has managed exchanges between U.S. and Slovakian managers for ICMA’s International Management Exchange Program.