New Fulbright program offers intriguing opportunities

With much research circulating in the sphere of international higher education, it is easy to forget to translate theory into practice, especially on highly divisive issues. The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – along with bi-national commissions and foundations, embassies, and cooperating agencies like the Council for International Exchange of Scholars – hopes to change that.

These organizations have launched the new Fulbright Regional Network for Applied Research (NEXUS) Program this year, attempting to move research beyond theory to practical applications in the Western Hemisphere, said Alina L. Romanowski, deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

According to the CIES website, the NEXUS program is a new branch of the overarching Fulbright program which will bring junior scholars, professionals and mid-career researchers from South America and the U.S. together to work on research teams that focus on one of three main topics: science, technology and innovation; entrepreneurship; or sustainable energy.

They will present the research at one of three in-person conferences and work with local stakeholders (NGOs, government and private industrial companies) that will use their research for various operations.

“The NEXUS Program, specifically, has been shaped to focus on entrepreneurship and practical solutions, bridging that world between theory, research and practical solutions,” Romanowski said. “I think the institutions are going to benefit by really creating something we hope is new and different, and will show some concrete results, making progress on some of the global solutions.”

The Core Program – where a faculty member lives in another country for a semester or year to conduct research and/or teach at a host institution – is the most well-known and popular program under the Fulbright umbrella, said Christy Lennon in an e-mail. Lennon is the assistant director of project planning and development in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the Fulbright campus adviser for faculty.

“On many campuses, including Marquette, you do have a Fulbright Campus Adviser,” said Romanowski. “A lot of times they’re a former Fulbrighter, so they can speak not only to the application process, but the beginning to the end for the whole experience.”

The Fulbright campus adviser for “junior scholars” at Marquette is Lezlie Knox, an associate history professor. She helps graduating seniors or graduate students apply to the student branch and Fulbright’s Core Program, where students apply to work with professionals and scholars on research teams.

This year, Marquette faculty members Kristen Haglund, an associate professor of nursing, and Angela Sorby, an associate English professor, received a Fulbright lecture and research awards for the spring semester of 2011 at the University of Sheffield, UK and Xiamen University, China, respectively.

“Not only are (those in the NEXUS program) doing the conferences, they are participating in these multinational, multidisciplinary, multisectoral research groups … that will be working together on a proposal and a project to address those issues of sustainable energy, science and technology and entrepreneurship,” Haglund said. “I think that’s wonderful.”

Lennon said questions about the faculty Fulbright program can be directed at her, and basic requirements for Fulbright programs include U.S. citizenship, a Ph.D. or equivalent for faculty and submitting an online application with an approximate deadline of Aug. 1 for the following academic year.