Fulbright opportunities benefit campus and faculty alike
By Dianna Borsi O’Brien
What do 16th century globes, an indigenous tribe in Chile and pregnant Irish cows have in common? Fulbright scholars from MU.
Each year, a number of MU faculty members receive one of the nearly 800 Fulbright Scholar awards for academic work in more than 140 countries. The awards are highly competitive and MU faculty members in every area of study, from American literature to parks, recreation and tourism, have traveled to countries ranging from Canada to China.
This year, three MU faculty members received Fulbright grants to conduct research or teach abroad. But more important is what the scholars say they brought back to MU, or will bring back. One scholar is still literally out in the field in Ireland.
The MU International Center offers assistance, information, support and follow-up networking opportunities for Fulbrighters. Here are some tips offered by MU’s Fulbright campus representative Jim Scott and this year’s Fulbright recipients:
- Contact previous Fulbright recipients for tips to create a successful application.
- You don’t necessarily need to take off a full year to accept a Fulbright. Time periods for postings can vary from two weeks to a full year.
- Talk with your department head or key administrator as early as possible to work out salary and workload accommodations.
- Pay attention to the timing of the various leave options available to faculty. You may need to apply for leave before you know whether or not your Fulbright application is successful.
- Awards for English-speaking countries are highly competitive. Don’t rule out other options — most teaching awards do not require foreign language proficiency.
- Not all Fulbright postings are the same. Some include teaching, some are only for research and some allow both.
- A Fulbright can benefit the entire family! Many awards offer additional stipends for accompanying dependents.
- For some awards you’ll need a letter of introduction or invitation. In other cases, contact with the receiving institution is discouraged until after the award is granted.
- CIES offers regular webinars addressing different regions and aspects of the application process.
The three 2013/14 scholars, their awards and assignments are:
Chris Daniggelis, MFA, assistant professor/coordinator of printmaking in the Art Department, Fulbright research award for September 2013 to February 2014, at the Grafikwerkstatt Dresden (Fine Art Printing Workshop), and the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon, part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (State Art Collections) in Germany.
David Bergin, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology, Fulbright lecturing/research award, August to December 2013, at the University of the Frontier, Temuco, Chile.
Matt Lucy, Ph.D., professor in the Division of Animal Sciences, Fulbright senior specialist research award August 2013 to August 2014, at Teagasc in Fermoy, County of Cork, Ireland.
Chris Daniggelis: New answers from old globes
Artist, printmaker and MU assistant professor Chris Daniggelis spent six months studying maps, charts and globes, including one globe made from a woodcut blocks print, dating from 1507. These medieval artifacts survived the infamous Dresden World War II firebombing, decades of Communist rule — and, in their day, revolutionized the world.
Studying these globes and the history surrounding them, says Daniggelis, can give us insights into the problems that plague us today, the same ones they faced then: How can we check facts, who owns the information and how can you make it pay?
Just the facts
When printmaking burst upon medieval Europe, the ability to make multiple copies of items, including maps, charts and globes allowed, for easy and quick dissemination of information. This changed society and propelled the world into the industrial revolution, and continues to underpin today’s information/technology industry. It’s even the basis of our entertainment industry: Multiple images are what create the movies, video and anything animated we watch.
It’s this intersection of history and impact that fascinates Daniggelis, who teaches and coordinates printmaking for MU’s Art Department. Students at MU learn about lithography, etching, engraving, photo mechanics, relief, serigraphy and digital printmaking.
Daniggelis returned from Dresden with 17 works of art he created there, as well as a schedule for an international exhibit of his work, plans for a local exhibit and a treasure trove of networks and connections that will benefit him and MU students for decades to come.
Conducting research like this on artistic artifacts is something that simply can’t be done via the Internet or via book.
“To be able to get my hands on the greatest collection of medieval globes and prints, to look at these items, it was so inspirational.”
David Bergin: A Frontier Fulbright
When David Bergin, Ph.D., associate professor in MU’s Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology, decided to apply for a Fulbright Scholar award, all he wanted was to shake things up a bit, make sure he wasn’t falling into a rut and practice his rusty Spanish.
That’s why he opted to apply for a Fulbright at the University of the Frontier in Temuco, Chile, a metro area of roughly 400,000 people — that certainly sounded like a place to get out of a rut.
Lessons in hope
Yet, during his four months there in fall 2013, he got more than that; he gained new views he can share with his MU students. The first lesson he can offer them is hope. Despite a history marked by a violent coup d’etat, followed by rule by a brutal dictator, today Chile is a democracy with a society Bergin describes as vibrant, respectful and free of the rampant corruption that often blemishes Latin American countries. Bergin had lived in Latin America during the 1970s and visited during the 1980s and 1990s, and had seen first-hand some of the challenges faced by the region.
He can also offer a different perspective on schools, motivation and academic achievement, one of his areas of research. Before he left for Chile, Bergin had planned to study whether students from the Mapuche tribe, a fierce tribe in the 1500s and then suppressed by the Spanish, face the same problems reported by some U.S. minority students: fears that academic achievement will identify them with the majority population and lead to negative repercussions and accusations of “acting white.”
But Bergin said he didn’t find anything like that — instead the students he spoke with were eager to support their school, rather than criticize it. “They had no awareness of people wanting to do poorly in school,” he says.
Tough teaching tips
He’ll also be able to share with students a different perspective on the challenges of being a teacher. In Chile, teachers are expected to work 44 hours a week in the classroom, with no time for preparation or grading. In addition, the schools are loud, really loud, due to the standard school features of tile floors, metal chairs and nothing on the walls. And some are run for-profit, while public, free schools also are available.
Bergin also got a new perspective on graduate classes. His master’s level class met for eight hours once a month with several of the students flying in from 500 to 1,000 miles away to attend the class, so none of his MU students had better complain about troubles walking across campus or finding nearby parking.
But most importantly, he came back reinvigorated and ready to share with his students his new views.
Matt Lucy: Taking sustainability beyond the barn
MU animal science professor Matt Lucy, Ph.D., went to Ireland to continue his research on the connection between milk-producing cow nutrition and reproduction. What he got was a whole new way to look at problems, the world, sustainable farming and even the questionable benefits of 24-hour retail operations.
Lucy received a Fulbright senior specialist award to work with Teagasc, Ireland’s agriculture and food development agency. Lucy is one 14 Fulbright award winners working in Ireland, and one of the few working in animal science there.
The first benefit Lucy noticed was a new perspective. “Professors tend to get stale over time, hanging out and doing the same stuff everyday,” says Lucy. But in Ireland, he was dropped into an entirely new environment, which forced him to look at problems — and solutions — differently. Lucy realized how you think about problems is just one way to think of them, not the only way.
For example, for his Irish research colleagues, the dairy farmers, veterinarians and others in the dairy industry, sustainable practices go far beyond the farm where the cows are raised and include the long-term environmental effects on everything from the stream flowing through the land to the air and the economy for the entire country and for generations to come.
“They’re much more keyed into sustainable food, thinking about long-term implications of agriculture and animal health and well being, the farm, everything, not just the milk,” says Lucy.
Slower is better
One lesson came as a special surprise. In the U.S., you can order a supply such as a reagent, and get it in day or so via FedEx. In Ireland, however, an item can take a week or two to obtain, even though it’s a smaller country. Part of the reason is that Ireland’s economy is smaller. After all, Ireland’s population is about the same as Missouri’s and it is a little smaller then the Show-Me state. But it isn’t just Ireland’s smaller size that explains the slower retail response. The country simply runs on a slower pace, stores aren’t open 24 hours a day and the hardware store closes at 2 p.m.
“In the U.S. it’s crazy full on all the time,” and Lucy says he finds the Irish way of life refreshing.
The greatest benefit Lucy says he’s gained is in the number and depth of his relationships with other scientists, farmers and veterinarians in Ireland. He’d been in touch and exchanged samples and information before, but Lucy says, “You can’t really substitute every day, face-to-face relationships.”