Business Professor Forges International Connections During Sabbatical Down South

Sue Conger in Brisbane


Published Date: February 25, 2014

Associate Professor Sue Conger, who teaches information technology in the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business, remembers feeling "off kilter" the first time she visited South Africa three years ago. In addition to adjusting to conserving disposable resources such as plastic bags and to spotty Web access, Conger pointed to the meeting of hugely different cultures, including African tribes and Dutch and English descendants.

"It took three visits over the course of three years to get a sense for how things work there," said Conger. "It's all driven by history."

Conger, whose research focuses on IT service management, emerging technologies and updating IT programs, is halfway through a year long sabbatical comprised of a relentless schedule of lectures, seminars and research, as well as consultations with everyone from grad students to South African NGOs (nongovernment organizations).

To begin her yearlong sabbatical, Conger traveled to Australia and New Zealand to visit with research partners and to lecture at the University of South Queensland (Australia) and New Zealand's Victoria University and University of Canterbury.

The fall was spent in Rhodes, South Africa, where Conger held the post of visiting professor at Rhodes University. As it is everywhere she travels, much of her time was spent advising graduate students and conferring with South African IT professors on their shared research projects.

In September, Conger served as visiting professor at the University of South Africa (UNISA), where she consulted on ongoing projects that included UNISA's curriculum development for IT service management programs. She also worked with the living lab project at UNISA partner institution, the Meraka Institute — an organization that installs electricity and computer labs in remote South African areas.

In addition, she met with representatives of the Council on Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a quasi-governmental organization that sponsors remote rural development research, visiting one such project during one of the sessions.

In February, Conger traveled to Christchurch, New Zealand to serve as an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury in the College of Business and Law's Department of Accounting and Information Systems. This six-month fellowship is named for benefactor John Angus Erskine, 1872-1960, an entrepreneur who was well-read in classics and history as well as engineering. Conger will teach process management to undergraduates.

PHOTO: Conger in Brisbane, Australia.

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