UM tops public universities for Fulbrights

University of Michigan students and scholars have been offered 25 Fulbright scholarships for the 2021-22 academic year. The university is among the most productive institutions in the country.

The grants, one of the US government’s most prestigious awards, were offered to fund the research of 18 students – the most among public universities – and seven overseas scholars for up to 12 months.

Stephen DesJardins, professor at the School of Education, is one of the recipients. Last fall, he spent four months working on grade inflation, college access, and success in Porto, Portugal.

“I was impressed with how Fulbright could really help me connect with higher education economists around the country who have similar interests,” he said. “When that happens, you have the potential for lasting types of relationships and can help connect with other people, so that’s a big plus.”

DesJardins said that in Portugal and Europe, grade inflation is a problem that has serious consequences for individuals, schools and universities. Along with other academics from the University of Porto, he built a longitudinal database with all high school students in Portugal for 10 years, including their university application, test scores, and information about their university performance.

“Our project had two aspects,” he said. “First, to document that there is grade and high school inflation, and second, to examine how this affects different people, different schools, and what the implications are for access and success in higher education.

“Learning and knowing more about it helps solve some of these problems. And I am sure that this data set will be useful for a long time and for doing many different projects. »

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright program aims to increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries, as well as to help recipients achieve their academic goals.

Nearly 1,100 American students, artists, and young professionals from 100 different fields are offered Fulbrights each year. In the 2020-21 academic year, 28 UM students and 12 academics received the highly competitive award.

“Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has played a vital role in promoting international and area studies to American scholars and students,” said Mary Gallagher, director of the UM International Institute. “Research and teaching on global issues is impossible without access to study and research abroad. In addition, this program promotes foreign language expertise, advanced study knowledge and experience, and a broader worldview. We need these skills now more than ever.

Ross Bernhaut is a PhD candidate in his fourth year of PhD. Art History program, specializing in the history of South Asian art and architecture. He will begin an 11-month Fulbright in May, continuing a long-term study of the architectural development of the walled city atop a hill that rises hundreds of feet above the congested urban sprawl of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, India.

His project seeks to reconstruct the original appearance of the summit by analyzing dislocated sculptures, by reconstructing iconographic programs, by studying the adaptation and transformation of structures over time. It will also use textual and material evidence to postulate which buildings may have once existed but no longer exist.

“I want to understand how subsequent interventions have responded to existing structures on Gwalior Hill,” Bernhaut said. “Ultimately, I hope to broaden our understanding of the role Gwalior Hill has played in the political, social, religious and architectural landscape of northern India, and to contextualize its specific history within the regional developments of India. town planning of hill forts.”

According to Mary Kirk, director of the Office of Academic Exchange Programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State, these institutions benefit from new foreign perspectives and new international collaborations, which often lead to discoveries and breakthroughs that have global reach. impact.

“American Fulbright scholars benefit professionally throughout their careers by expanding the scope and reach of their research and bringing a global perspective to their teaching,” she said. “American Fulbright students enrich their education, advance their careers, and make valuable contributions abroad and at home.”

Cinema and a passion for sex education

Recent alumnus Gretchen Andrews is already packing her bags. She is leaving soon for Mendoza, Argentina, and will stay there until December. While there, Andrews will create a short documentary exploring the need for positive conversations about sex and relationships around the world.

“This topic is crucial to reducing discrimination against women globally,” she said. “I want to respond to how young adult activists in Argentina are taking the lead in demanding their rights to sex education while promoting open conversations about sex for all ages and genders.”

Andrews, who graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in film, television and media, and psychology, will collaborate with Ana María Vega, developer of “Educación Sexual Integral”, the leading NGO working to achieve consistent and funded access to the government to sex. education in public schools in Mendoza.

“In equal parts, I will explore the traditional values, opinions and stories of community members who disagree with pushes for public sex education,” Andrews said. “I believe wholeheartedly that sharing healthy conversations and questions about sex, love and relationships is fundamental to breaking down the barriers of gender discrimination, violence and the pleasure gap.

“I hope this film will elevate community discussion, serve as a catharsis for storytellers of diverse opinions, and hope that our countries will mutually dismantle the negative connotations of sex while capturing the perspectives of church, government, parents and seniors. I also want to help reverse the harmful psychological effects of the media by making these sexual concepts more transparent and accessible to the public.