A series of academic collaborations between the University of Rochester and the University of Warsaw will be inaugurated this fall with the support of the Fulbright Scholar Program. The theme of “Teaching Diversity: Perspectives on Race, Nationalism, and the Politics of Memory” will frame new faculty and student exchanges, coursework enrichment at both institutions, and online seminars.
“Comparative cross-cultural learning about social movements and resistance within multicultural states, such as Poland and the United States, has great value for all academic disciplines,” says Ewa K. Hauser, director of the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies at the University of Rochester. Hauser, who was a senior Fulbright Fellow in Warsaw for 2001-02, received the Fulbright Scholar Alumni Initiatives Awards Program grant to build a broader institutional arrangement from her Fulbright experience.
The main partners in the collaboration are the University of Rochester’s Department of Political Science and the University of Warsaw’s American Studies Center with additional participation from both universities. Four faculty members from Warsaw will be the first to visit Rochester in September for several workshops and the start of satellite online lectures.
“These scholarly collaborations will create multiple links in innovative pedagogical approaches to teaching diversity at both institutions,” says William Scott Green, dean of the College at Rochester. “A major impact on our campus life will come from the visits of University of Warsaw faculty and students who will exchange perspectives with our faculty on such issues as ethnic and race relations, and the comparative politics of memory.”
In March 2005, four University of Rochester faculty members will participate in a joint conference in Warsaw on the topic of the politics of memory of ethnic and racial relations. Programs like these will be generated in phases and are expected to continue into 2006.
Fredrick Harris, director of the Center for the Study of African-American Politics and of the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies at Rochester, will co-host that conference. “The conference offers a wonderful opportunity to see how two very different societies deal with the past of marginal groups. It brings an international focus to such issues as community memory, restitution, and reconciliation,” explains Harris, who is associate professor of political science.
Hauser is the principal investigator for the grant; Zbigniew Lewicki, professor and director of Warsaw’s American Studies Center, is the Polish coordinator for the project. Other faculty from Warsaw’s American Studies Center who will visit Rochester in September are Tomasz Basiuk, deputy director for student affairs who has developed courses on Holocaust literature in cooperation with German universities; Agnieszka Graff, assistant professor who teaches gender studies, narrative theory, and the history of the American women’s movement; and Krystyna Mazur, assistant professor who teaches minority studies. Basiuk and Graff also will be in residence at New York University during the 2004-05 year as Fulbright scholars.
This is the Skalny Center’s second scholarly arrangement with a Polish university. In 1995, Jagiellonian University, which is located in Krakow and is the oldest university in Poland, began its collaborations with the University of Rochester. Just a year earlier, Rochester established the Center for Polish and Central European Studies in the Department of Political Science. The center was renamed for the Louis Skalny Foundation in 2000.
The new Warsaw programs will be integrated into the academic offerings of the Skalny Center and will be beneficial in the planning for a new undergraduate major in European Studies.
The goal of the Fulbright Scholar Alumni Initiatives Awards Program is to extend the strengths of the 55-year-old Fulbright Scholar Program, one of the U.S. government’s flagship international exchanges. It is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education (IIE), an independent nonprofit organization. IIE, coordinator for both the Fulbright Scholar and Fulbright Student programs, has established a legacy fund to provide enrichment activities that add value to the basic program. The Council for International Exchange of Scholars, a division of IIE, administers the Alumni Initiatives Awards Program.