New Fulbright Accelerator connects CAHSS faculty with international opportunities

Published: Nov 2, 2018
Flags of the world in UMBC's Commons building. Photo by Marlayna Demond '11 for UMBC. (Flags of the world in UMBC's Commons building.)

“My Fulbright experience changed the course of my life and my career,” remembers Eugene C. Schaffer, professor of education.

Early in his career, Shaffer earned a Fulbright Scholar award to bring his knowledge of curriculum development and teaching practices to a collaboration with Taiwanese educators for two years. “There is always so much to learn and understand about history and how different cultures work together to hope for peace,” he says. “My work in Taiwan helped me to see the need for sharing research on innovative and effective curriculum practices globally.” Shaffer went on to travel the world and lived and worked with educators in the UK and Japan. Recently, he earned another Fulbright to work with educators in Kosovo. “The most salient takeaway of my Fulbright experiences is how much the cultures and the people gave to me. I am a better teacher and a better person for trying to understand another cultural form,” shares Shaffer.

UMBC’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) is working to connect more faculty with Fulbright opportunities, particularly given CAHSS faculty’s long and successful history of transformative international research and teaching. UMBC faculty have already completed Fulbrights on every continent except Antarctica, and there’s great interest in expanding their international work even further.

“We have had tremendous success with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program,” says Brian Souders, Ph.D. ’09, language literacy, and culture, and Fulbright Program advisor. “We hope that by promoting this opportunity with CAHSS faculty, we can encourage similar success with faculty awards.”

UMBC’s Office of International Education; Center for Social Science Scholarship; Center for Innovation, Research and Creativity in the Arts (CIRCA); and Dresher Center for the Humanities are partnering with the Council of the International Exchange of Scholars (which sponsors the Fulbright Scholar Programs) to host the first CAHSS Fulbright Accelerator. All CAHSS faculty are invited to attend the session on Monday, November 5, at noon, in Performing Arts and Humanities Building room 216.

Through the Fulbright Accelerator, faculty will learn more about semester- and year-long fellowships, short-term research stays, teaching visits, and postdoctoral scholarships the Fulbright Program offers. Along with Schaffer, former CAHSS Fulbright Scholars across the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences will share their experiences.

Charissa Cheah, professor of psychology, just returned from her Fulbright experience in Italy this summer and will present at the Fulbright Accelerator. She worked with groups of Tunisian Muslim adolescents to try to understand how they and their families adapted to Italian culture. “The more I immersed myself in the community,” says Cheah, “the more questions I had about how these adolescents navigate their intersecting religious, ethnic, and national identities across family, school, community, particularly with the current socio-political climate in Italy.” She hopes these insights will help her gain some comparative insights with her work with Muslim adolescents in Maryland.

Charissa Cheah in Italy Fulbright Program celebration.
Charissa Cheah in Italy at the 70th celebration of Fulbright Italy at The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Photo courtesy of Cheah.

John Stolle-McAllister, associate dean of CAHSS, will share his experience as a Fulbright Scholar in Ecuador researching indigenous identity. “I was able to bring my wife, my son, and daughter. By the end of our year we all were more fluent and part of the local community,” remembers Stolle-McAllister.

“The most profound part of my Fulbright experience was being open to letting go of assumptions and go deeper into my research in a way I could not have done at home,” Stolle-Mcallister says. “What I found were more complex questions and layered answers that helped me to gain a broader perspective.”

John Stolle-McAllister in Ecuador Fulbright Program.
John Stolle-McAllister in Ecuador with his English class from the Kayambi Confederation’s Free Study System. They asked him to march/dance with them in their Inti Raymi festival (Sun Festival celebrated on summer solstice). Photo courtesy of Stolle-McAllister.

Tim Nohe, professor of visual arts and director of CIRCA, will represent the visual arts Fulbright experience along with Eric Dyer, associate professor of animation and interactive media who will share his scholarship in Denmark. Nohe’s work engages with traditional and electronic media in public spaces and in daily life, and he has worked in close collaboration with artist colleagues in Australia. In one video produced in collaboration with composer Warren Burt and broadcast across Australia by the ABC Classic network, Nohe worked under the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge:

Through international work, says Nohe, “Scholars transform their teaching and scope of experience and share that with UMBC faculty and students. The perspective and broad scope of references is truly invaluable, and we as scholars serve as ambassadors for our institutions abroad.”

Featured image: International flags in the UMBC Commons. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

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