Fulbright scholars foster connections overseas
August 19, 2008 -- Three SF State professors will advance understanding of the U.S. and its history and culture when they teach overseas this academic year as part of the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Program.
Bill Issel, professor emeritus of history, hopes to develop active connections between American historians in Hungary and those in the U.S. "Creating these links has really only been possible since Hungary opened up in 1989," said Issel, who will spend two semesters teaching at the University of Pécs in Hungary.
Issel has been appointed the László Országh Distinguished Chair in American Studies, a position in the Fulbright Distinguished Chairs Program, an esteemed award reserved for eminent scholars.
"There's a growing interest in American Studies in Hungary, but many American Studies faculty there come from a literature background rather than history," said Issel, an influential figure in the growth of American studies. "This is where I hope to add value, to impart my knowledge and to work on curriculum development."
Issel will teach an undergraduate course in U.S history and two graduate seminars on American thought and culture, and diversity in the U.S., topics which he hopes will encourage Hungarian students to reflect on their own culture. He will also deliver a series of public lectures on the American presidential election and American culture at "The American Corner" in Pécs.
Another SF State historian, Professor Robert Cherny, will assume a Fulbright appointment in March 2009, teaching American political history at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Cherny's Fulbright scholarship will take him back to his great grandparents' native country.
Cherny hopes to develop contacts with faculty and students in a similar vein to his first Fulbright scholarship to Russia in 1996. "Years later I am still in contact with the faculty from Moscow State University," Cherny said. "The Fulbright Scholar Program is all about getting people from different countries together to explore common interests."
Associate Professor of Asian American Studies Russell Jeung will spend September through January on a Fulbright scholarship to Tamkang University in Taiwan. He will teach American studies graduate courses on American public policy and the American religious experience and will be applying these topics to the Asian American experience. "I believe students in Taiwan will be interested to learn about the Asian diaspora living in the United States," Jeung said.
His interests include race and religion and he hopes to explore these issues further in Taiwan. "I chose Taiwan because religion is thriving there, mainly Confucianism and folk religion," Jeung said. "This is a real contrast to Asian Americans who are known to be one of the most secular groups in the U.S."
Keenly aware of SF State's emphasis on international perspectives in the curricula, Jeung hopes his experience in Taiwan will enrich his teaching. "I want to bring back vignettes and case studies about Asian culture and also to be better equipped to understand where immigrant students from China and Taiwan are coming from," Jeung said.
The Fulbright Program, America's flagship international education exchange program, is sponsored by the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
-- Elaine Bible
Share this story: