UChicago graduate students win the most Fulbright grants by a wide margin

November 16, 2012 Comments Off

Ten graduate students at the University of Chicago were awarded Fulbright-Hays grants this year to continue their dissertation research abroad for a period of six to 12 months. UChicago graduate students lead the nation in the number of Fulbright-Hays awards and in total funding, with a combined grant total of $448,899.

“Our graduate students do cutting-edge research in every field, and their international footprint is already enormous,” said Deborah Nelson, Deputy Provost for Graduate Education. “Their competitive advantage in the job market and the expertise they have in their fields is only augmented by funding from the Fulbright-Hays grants.”

The Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grants are awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to help the nation understand areas of the world not generally included in standard curricula. Amy Wilson, the senior officer for the program in the Department of Education, said they are especially open to proposals that speak to the pressing needs of people in strategic regions such as Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and East Central Europe. The Department of Education announced this year’s awards in October.

“These fellowships are extremely competitive and we continue to receive high-level research proposals,” Wilson said. This year, the Department of Education received 380 eligible applications, and awarded fellowships to 84 graduate students. With the exception of one year, UChicago students have been the top recipients of Fulbright-Hays fellowships for over two decades.

Among this year’s winners is Natalja Czarnecki, an anthropology doctoral student who is working on a dissertation about the relationship that people in the Republic of Georgia have with their food supply. How much they trust their food can be a measurement of their broader trust in their government and economy, she believes.

“The Southern Caucasus are an interesting geopolitical case study, bridging Central Asia and Europe, but generally trying to orient themselves toward Europe,” Czarnecki said. The Fulbright-Hays funding will allow her to work with anthropologists and food safety experts in Tbilisi for a year. She said she is thankful for this opportunity.

Patrick Kelly, a PhD student in history who is writing a dissertation about the rise of human rights activism in response to violence in South America in the 1970s, also won a Fulbright-Hays this year. His in-field research on this topic began last summer, when he travelled to various places that had suffered under repressive military dictatorships. With the Fulbright funding, he will go to Mexico, Brazil, and Switzerland for more intense research on why people across the world began to care about human rights violations in Latin America.

“The chance to return to these places and continue my work with local archives and universities will make my dissertation stronger,” Kelly said. He hopes eventually to turn the research into a book.

Kelly’s advisor, Professor Mark Phillip Bradley, and people in the Graduate Student Affairs office helped him articulate and refine his proposal, for which Kelly says he is deeply grateful. “Graduate students can sometimes feel as if they were on their own,” he said, “but I got a strong sense that I was supported by the University 100 percent.”

New consortium of leading universities will move forward with transformative, for-credit online education program
A group of the nation’s leading universities announced plans to launch a new, innovative program that transforms the model of online education. Consortium members include Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis. The new online education program, Semester Online, will be the first of its kind to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to take rigorous, online courses for credit from a consortium of universities. The program is delivered through a virtual classroom environment and interactive platform developed by 2U, formerly known as 2tor.

Beginning in the fall of 2013, Semester Online will be available to academically qualified students attending consortium schools as well as other top schools across the country. Information about Semester Online courses and the application process will be available in early 2013. The consortium anticipates adding a small number of institutions prior to next year’s launch.

Initial Semester Online courses will feature primarily the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, with additional courses designed for the online format to be included in the future. Through a state-of-the-art virtual classroom, students will participate in discussions and exercises, attend lectures and collaborate with peers while guided by renowned professors—as close to the on-campus class experience as is currently possible online.

Semester Online will offer students unprecedented opportunities for curricula enhancement. They will have the chance to take advantage of unique course offerings from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country, courses they would not otherwise have access to. They will be able to work, travel, participate in off-campus research programs or manage personal commitments that in the past would have meant putting their studies on hold.

Semester Online also provides exciting opportunities to consortium faculty members. Participating professors will have the chance to take part in a first-class online learning experience and engage with the best and brightest students across the country.

“There isn’t any question that online education is an important and impactful extension of our academic offering,” said Ed Macias, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs of Washington University in St. Louis and catalyst for organizing the consortium. “The challenge has been developing a web-based program that mirrors the richness and robustness of the in-classroom experience and applies credit toward earning a degree. Semester Online does just that. The program will be a significant step forward.”

“This is another way to test, learn from and benefit from the opportunities and challenges the online and digital worlds provide for us. We’re doing this to offer our students even better options to enrich their education,” said Peter Lange, provost of Duke University.

“Students from all over the country, or even from abroad, will be able to attend these online classes in real time—classes of about 15 to 20 students taught by professors at some of the nation’s leading universities,” said Daniel Linzer, Northwestern University provost. “These courses will expand curricular options for students and will enable consortium schools to work collaboratively to develop the most innovative and successful ways to utilize new learning technologies.”

“Now, no matter where they are in the world, students will have the opportunity to engage in internships and work experiences, travel or manage personal commitments while continuing their collegiate academic journey,” said Earl Lewis, Emory University provost.

The consortium is partnering with 2U, formerly known as 2tor, the leader in creating online academic experiences for top universities. Semester Online will feature many of the same elements that 2U offers its prestigious master’s degree program partners, including live class sessions that connect students and professors; compelling, richly produced, self-paced course materials; and a strong social network that allows students to connect and build relationships with peers online.

“By making for-credit online undergraduate coursework a reality for these top schools, Semester Online represents an important milestone for undergraduate education, one that will influence the wider adoption of for-credit online learning across all of higher education,” said Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO of 2U. “Semester Online demonstrates 2U’s mission to help great schools go online and provide high-quality learning experiences for credit, empowering students to continue their education as they follow their ambitions, anywhere.”

“All of us will be working with our respective faculty, staff and students to operationalize the program and develop guidelines for our students prior to launch next fall,” said Macias. “There are further issues to resolve, however, it is tremendously exciting that this group of leading institutions has come together and is committed to moving forward the concept of Semester Online.”

For more information, please visit semesteronline.org. Additional information about Semester Online courses and the application process will be available in early 2013.

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