University top producer of Fulbright scholars

Courtesy Photo / Susan Carson
Susan Carson, professor of education, at a school in Nepal. Carson has spent the past four months Lucknow, India, studying peace education

Courtesy Photo / Susan Carson Susan Carson, professor of education, at a school in Nepal. Carson has spent the past four months Lucknow, India, studying peace education

Samantha Butcher

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently recognized Grand Valley State University as a top producer of Fulbright grant recipients.

The Fulbright Program awards more than 7,500 new grants each year for individuals demonstrating “academic merit and leadership potential” to participate in the educational exchange program, according to the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. Hermann Kurthen, associate professor of sociology; Scott Stabler, assistant professor of history; and Susan Carson, associate professor of education, each received Fulbright grants in the 2010-2011 school year.

“Professors Susan Carson, Hermann Kurthen and Scott Stabler are outstanding teachers who are passionate educators and prolific researchers,” said Robert Smart, executive director of the Center of Scholarly and Creative Excellence at GVSU. “Their work will enrich the academic experience of our students and will strengthen the bridge between Grand Valley and other nations and cultures.”

Carson, who will today complete her four-month fellowship, said the experience was invaluable. Carson researched the principles and practices of caring communities, specifically focusing on their integration in pre-service education and the role of women in public spheres.

While abroad, Carson taught at Lucknow University in India and set up a traditional Indian household. Throughout her sabbatical, transportation, language and literacy barriers as well as the extreme poverty of the area all presented challenges.

“What I have learned and accomplished is now part of who I am,” she said. “The focus of my scholarship is envisioning peace. I will encourage my students to live to the whole being – mind, body and heart – and be receptive to learning.”

Kurthen and Stabler have yet to begin their research. Stabler will take a sabbatical next semester to research how the Transatlantic Slave Trade is taught in Ghanaian schools. Kurthen plans to work for a think tank in Berlin during the spring and summer.

“Bob Smart in CSCE has really aided our department in helping make research more of a priority through funding,” Stabler said. “The funds each department member receives each year to aid their own research is quite helpful. Also, the fact that GVSU supports sabbaticals is very important to not only attract faculty, but also allow the GVSU name to spread beyond the state of Michigan and even the United States.”

Kurthen, whose research will focus on post-war German-American relations, said he hopes his experiences abroad will allow him to better impact the university through course development and lectures.

“I believe these contributions are valuable because preparing our students for the 21st century requires that we as faculty, departments and colleges are incorporating new global and transnational developments in our research and teaching, encouraging personal interaction between cultures and getting a better understanding of other societies,” Kurthen said.

Amanda Cuevas, director of the Office of Fellowships, said faculty research and travel has a positive impact on the university and its students.

“As a top producer of Fulbright Scholars, GVSU is developing a growing network of Fulbright faculty scholars to whom prospective student scholars can seek advice and guidance,” she said. “It is a testament to the outstanding scholarship that is conducted by our faculty and subsequently students on our campus.”

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