Albert & Charlotte Anderson’s Gift of Long Distance Learning

Charlotte and Albert Anderson, standing.

Charlotte and Albert Anderson

“We decided that we would rather have this happen while we were living so that we could see what would come of our gift, rather than waiting until we were gone,” says Albert Anderson, a retired ISR researcher who, alongside his wife Charlotte, funded a high-tech distance learning center.

Working alongside research professor Bill Axinn, the Andersons learned about the tremendous need in South Asia for data to guide public policy, and about the shortage of people equipped to analyze it for these purposes. Inspired, the Andersons established the Albert and Charlotte Anderson Distance Learning Center (ACADLC) at the Institute for Social and Environmental Research – Nepal (ISER-N), where South Asian students can learn from instructors in Ann Arbor, MI.

The Anderson Center remains the most technologically advanced space in Nepal, creating a one-of-kind destination to support research and training, while remaining an economical option, because instructors can teach and engage students virtually. ”People are flying in from Pakistan and Bangladesh to take these courses, it’s incredible,” says Axinn.

Students watching their instructors on a monitor.

The Distance Learning Center in use. Courtesy ISER-N.

Future plans for the center include increasing the number and frequency of courses offered, training government statisticians and field teams in novel survey methodology techniques, and expanding locations to neighboring countries.

“As a kid, I was lucky enough to get to live in Nepal for a couple of years, and it had a huge effect on me,” says Axinn. “I knew I wanted a big part of my career to be about Nepal, and I wanted to do something to give back to the people of Nepal for all that they have given me. So I’m very personally grateful to Al for the financial support and the ideas to make this happen. I think it’s very important for social research in South Asia, and certainly a very important gift to the people of Nepal.”