Thursday, April 21, 2011
Two OU professors awarded prestigious Fulbright awardsBy Katie Land, news editor
Two Oakland University faculty members have been awarded prestigious Fulbright scholarships to pursue their work in education in international and cross-cultural settings.
Dr. Carolyn O'Mahony, associate professor in OU’s Teacher Development and Educational Studies is set to take 12 young teachers to New Zealand and Australia, and Dr. Eileen Johnson, assistant professor in the Educational Leadership Department will explore educational practices in Japan.
Operating in more than 155 nations worldwide, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Since its inception, it has offered more than 300,000 scholars with the opportunity to study, teach and research in an international arena.
For her Fulbright Hays Group Projects Abroad Program, Dr. O’Mahony is set to take 12 young teachers from southeast Michigan to work and participate in classrooms in New Zealand for five weeks. The goal is to engage American teachers with educators working in a different cultural environment, and utilize different approaches in their work stateside.
With an eye on art education in particular, the curriculum and placement will vary based on the background and interests of the selected participants.
“I am really excited about it,” Dr. O’Mahony said of her project. “We are taking very talented and skilled people into a completely different environment. They will bring back their experiences to share with the community and will be able to use these ideas as they develop in their own classroom.”
The project is innovative and complex, exploring cultural implications in diverse educational systems. “There are many ways to teach effectively,” she added.
The project set in Japan represents Dr. Johnson’s second Fulbright award. For this project, she will teach a course on the foundations of American public education and another course focused on contemporary issues in American public education that focuses on social, political, and economic forces.
At the same time, Dr. Johnson will study the Japanese public education systems, and will conclude by creating a manuscript on the public education practices of Japan, Finland and the United States.
“International education is important for several reasons, not the least of which is improved cross-national and cross-cultural understanding,” Dr. Johnson said. “Opportunities such as this are rare and important, and it is gratifying to know that OU is supportive of faculty embarking on international experiences.”
Dr. Johnson’s study is also very timely, as public education is becoming more frequently compared cross-nationally using standardized assessments. As such, it is important to understand the methods and policies that drive these different educational systems.
Both scholars will travel and conduct their research in 2012. Additional information and applications for Dr. O’Mahony’s teacher-focused project will be posted as they become available.