Wittenberg University has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright-Hays (FH) Group Projects Abroad (GPA) Grant through the U.S. Department of Education. The grant-funded project was designed by and will be led by Heather Wright, associate professor of political science and director of women’s studies, and Michael Anes, associate professor of psychology and department chair.
Developed as an extension of Wright and Anes’ Wittenberg in Poland summer field study and titled “Exploring the tension between democratic pluralism and nationalistic exclusion of the ‘other,’” the project was awarded $105,105 and will engage Wittenberg students, faculty, and Ohio grade 9-12 teachers in travel and study in Poland during the summer of 2024. The FH GPA grant will fund approximately 83 percent of the total cost of the project, with Wittenberg contributing the remaining amount.
“The project creates an experiential learning opportunity for participants by increasing firsthand knowledge and understanding of Polish history, culture, and language,” Wright said. “The project will also examine the historical roots of current political forces in Poland, the impact of present politics on various minority groups, Polish immigration policies and intergroup attitudes, as well as opportunities and challenges brought by immigration with specific discussion of displaced Ukrainian people and middle eastern people arriving via Belarus.”
- Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program in Poland (learn more about the program and registration link)
Another component of the project involves increasing, strengthening, and diversifying the coverage of Polish issues in Ohio public schools and at Wittenberg, especially at it relates to the effects of Ukrainian immigration and the Holocaust.
Wright and Anes intend for the project to result in the following outcomes:
- A volume of 9-12 curricula (at least seven curricular modules), with contributions from project participants, for potential statewide distribution for use in social studies, political science, and Holocaust education in Ohio (available to download online);
- Six to eight new or revised courses focusing on Poland/Central Europe at Wittenberg. These courses may eventually lead to a new minor in Central and Eastern European studies;
- A variety of in-person and online presentations by GPA participants to local and national audiences.
“By increasing the number of Wittenberg faculty and Ohio high school teachers with expertise in these issues, along with the number of short-term curricular projects that educators have available to integrate into existing courses or from which new courses may be built, we hope to help the participants disseminate the knowledge and materials to more pre-teachers, high school teachers, and college faculty,” Anes said.
Participants in this short-term, four-week project will include three higher education Wittenberg faculty, seven high school teachers, and four Wittenberg juniors or seniors intending to become teachers, along with Wright and Anes.
As part of the project, the group of 16 will traverse the Polish landscape from Krakow and Zakopane in the south to Gdansk in the north, interacting with Polish scholars, politicians, and citizens via seminars, workshops, and site visits designed to challenge and expand their understanding of the history, society, and culture of the host country. While exploring everything from traditional folk culture to contemporary popular culture, as well as Poland’s ongoing political transition and ideological complexity, the experiential learning opportunity will provide the group with the ultimate political science text, ripe for analysis.
In addition to Wright and Anes’ collaborative work, Wittenberg’s success in earning a FH GPA benefited from the expertise of Darby Hiller Freund, associate provost for academic affairs and institutional research, and the University’s partners at McAllister & Quinn.
Wittenberg has a strong track record in winning both student and faculty Fulbright grants. Both Wright and Anes were U.S. Fulbright scholars in Poland in 2010-2011. Wittenberg’s most recent recipients include Reese Harper, Wittenberg class of 2020, who was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to work as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Taiwan, and Professor Emeritus of Sociology Keith Doubt, who was selected by the U.S. Fulbright Program, also in 2020, to receive a Fulbright Specialist Award, which allowed him to teach a short course and conduct research in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
The purpose of the Fulbright-Hays GPA program is to encourage international goodwill and cultural exchange. Additionally, the program supports overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development among educators at the K-12, higher education, and graduate student levels.
The Fulbright program, led by the United States government in partnership with more than 160 countries worldwide, offers international educational and cultural exchange programs for passionate and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers, and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach, or pursue important research and professional projects.