KU faculty earn Fulbright grants

Melissa Birch is going to Paraguay to teach about business and government ethics.

She figures having the word “Fulbright” associated with her name can only help her credibility.

“‘Fulbright’ is a very official U.S. designation,” she said. “It means I’ll have a lot more recognition when I’m there. There’s a screening process; I’m not just any faculty member wandering through. That’ll help — especially for a subject matter like this.”

Birch, an associate professor of business, is one of six Kansas University faculty members who nabbed Fulbright awards for the upcoming school year. She’ll teach at Catholic University of Paraguay in Asuncion and research business competition on Mercosur, a regional trade agreement that links Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

She’ll travel to Paraguay in either spring or summer 2004 for four months.

Fulbright grants, established in 1946, offer round-trip travel, health insurance and a stipend to scholars for all or part of an academic year.

KU has been successful in the program in recent years. Last year, KU had 11 faculty Fulbright scholars — the most of any university in the nation. KU has had 263 Fulbright scholars.

Other winners for next year:

  • Bartholomew “Bart” Dean, assistant professor of anthropology, who received a Fulbright grant to Peru, where he will teach and do research at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos from May to September 2004. He’ll also launch a research project with Peter Herlihy, associate professor of geography, on the social and ecological implications of indigenous land titling in the Peruvian Amazon.
  • Laura Hobson Herlihy, lecturer in the KU Center of Latin American Studies, will lecture and conduct research for five months in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, at the Universidad de las Regiones Autonomas de la Costa Caribe Nicaraguense, the only indigenous university in Central America. She’ll research how gender, sexuality and discourse help define and maintain the indigenous Miskito cultural identity within state and global economics.
  • Brent Metz, lecturer and assistant director of the Center for Latin American Studies, will work in the tri-border region of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, researching the Ch’orti’ Maya ethnic revitalization movement. Ch’orti’ is one of about 30 Mayan languages that have nearly disappeared.
  • Mehrangiz Najafizadeh, associate professor of sociology, will lecture on international issues in advanced and graduate level courses at Khazar University in Baku, Azerbaijan. She also will do research on women’s place and identity in Azerbaijan during the Soviet era and the ongoing period of transition.
  • Hagith Sivan, associate professor of history, will spend the entire academic year in Israel to integrate recent archaeological data from the Caesarea Martima site, the ancient Roman capital of Palestine. He also plans to examine the modes of coexistence and conflict resolution in the area for a book, “Conflicts and Concord: A History of Palestine in Late Antiquity.”