In September 2006, due to extraordinary efforts by a large group of very
talented people, Global University System (GUS) and Altai Mir conducted
a fact-finding mission to Altai Republic to assess the interest, needs,
and resources there in establishing of a virtual, distance-learning
global peace university.

After preliminary meetings
in New York, Washington
DC, and Moscow, Carol
Hiltner, Takeshi Utsumi,
and Linda Hawkin Israel
were met in Novosibirsk by
Marina Tyasto, Director of
International Relation for
Siberian Academy for
Public Administration
(SAPA) and Lyudmila
Komkova, Director of NCP Siberian Educational-Consulting
Center “Connect,” who had organized stake-holder meetings in
Novosibirsk, Barnaul, and Gorno-Altaisk, as well as all the local
logistics.
The five of us were accompanied to Altai by Victor Yegorovich
Chernoskutov, Vice Rector of International and Interregional
Relations for SAPA, and Alexander Karpov, Head of Medical
Informatics Department at Novosibirsk State Medical
University.

In the meetings, repre-
sentatives of government,
public health, education,
technology, and NGOs
were invited to outline their
needs and resources, and
to collaborate on writing and submitting a proposal for an ambitious
communication infrastructure project to the Japan Office of Development
Assistance (ODA) funding, which GUS founder Takeshi Utsumi had been
instrumental in establishing.

Takeshi, representing GUS, focused on:
    - the expansion of the GLORIAD high-speed
      internet fiber-optic network to regional
      universities and communities;
    - the establishment of Beowulf super-computer
      technology, composed of linked PCs;
    - computer “gaming”—whole-system
      simulation for complex problem solving;
    - international university-based research for
      best practices;
    - a system for international transfer of
      university courses and credits.

Carol, representing Altai Mir, and Linda, representing MAMAS,
focused on finding the critical components that must be
developed for such a communication infrastructure to be
sustainable while enhancing the unique indigenous culture
and environment of the Altai Republic.

Our delegation was enthusiastically received, and we came
away with a long list of potential projects, and letters of support
from all sectors.

We visited a couple of regional hospitals, where the directors were
emphatic about the urgent need for remote diagnostics (which they now
do by telephone and fax), and continuing education, which must be
offered as distance-learning courses because the medical personnel
cannot be spared to travel.

We also visited the district
high school in Chemal that
has been wired for high-
speed internet (incidentally
hoping to check our e-
mails), and discovered that
with no budget for the $200/month connection fee, the school
was not actually connected. Chemal is a very popular tourist
destination with almost half a million summer visitors, and the mayor was working hard to find ways to develop
enterprises to boost the local economy. We added that conundrum to our list.

Of course, we were not all work.
In the delicious September
sunshine after all the tourists
had left, we enjoyed the best of
the magical Altai environment
and scenery. And we were able
to stay at the usually full-up
tourist bases, where wonderful
local gourmet food was
prepared for us.

We concluded our fact-finding
mission with a high respect for
the capability and enthusiasm of
local stake-holders—ready to
work together not only on a
distance-learning peace
university, but also on all aspects
necessary to sustain the precious
environmental and indigenous
culture of Altai.