Dr. David Evans, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, will be leading the group because of the contacts and friendships he has developed on six previous trips to Turkey.

Dr. David Evans, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, will be leading the group because of the contacts and friendships he has developed on six previous trips to Turkey.

June 3, 2009

Four Buena Vista University faculty members will be traveling to Turkey for two weeks this month on a trip that will broaden their field of knowledge in their academic specialties.

They are:

  • Dr. Stan Bochtler, professor of education
  • Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya, associate professor of religion
  • Dr. Robbie Ludy, professor of education
  • Jon Wagner, adjunct faculty member at the Ottumwa location of BVU's Professional & Online Studies program

This is the fourth year of McCorkle Fellows program, which was established through the generosity of the late Drs. Paul and Vivian McCorkle, who were both Life Trustees of BVU, to provide selected faculty members with an opportunity for international travel to enhance their scholarly knowledge and to add international dimensions to the curriculum. The first group traveled to Argentina and Peru in 2006. The second group traveled to India in 2007. The third group traveled to Israel and Egypt last year.

Dr. David Evans, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, will be leading the group because of the contacts and friendships he has developed on six previous trips to Turkey over the course of his professional career, the first in 1992, including two trips with students at colleges where he previously worked. Dr. Susan Kalsow, associate professor of education and dean of the School of Education and Exercise Science, will also be traveling with the group to explore the opportunities for education faculty and students.

This is the second McCorkle Fellows trip for Bochtler, Bhattacharyya and Ludy. Bhattacharyya and Ludy went on the 2007 trip and Bochtler was on the 2006 trip.

"I've been fortunate to travel to many different countries while I've been at BVU, but Turkey and its neighbors are an unexplored area of the world for me," says Bochtler. "I attended an elementary parochial school and we studied about Apostle Paul's missionary trips to that region, and this semester I read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, which is set here, before the story moves to Detroit, when the main characters immigrate to the U.S. So, basically I want to learn as much as possible about Turkey and its people in the two weeks that we are there. The administration and faculty hope to return to Turkey in the near future with a group of students."

"In the fall I will be teaching a section of First Year Seminar and I want to add an international flavor to the class, so that the students will seriously consider taking advantage of the many trip opportunities that are available at BVU," adds Bochtler. "In the spring, I teach Children's Fiction and Nonfiction, and I think that it's beneficial to incorporate some multicultural/international literature into the curriculum."

"My current research is focusing on ways of living nonviolently, with an emphasis on peace and justice," says Bhattacharyya "This McCorkle experience will provide me with the opportunity to explore these issues in a larger context."

Bhattacharyya says students in two of her courses - Biblical Heritage; and Judaism, Christianity, & Islam - will benefit from what she learns and photographs in Turkey. "In both of these courses there are times when the events and developments occurring in Turkey play a central role."

"Traveling with colleagues from a variety of disciplines is so rewarding," she adds. "I seek out and enjoy these ‘interdisciplinary' experiences! I learn so much from the questions my colleagues ask and the perspectives they bring, and I gladly share my experiences and questions."

Wagner, who is the coordinator for the criminal justice program at the Ottumwa locations, says "I hope to see the changes in a country where I lived 35 years ago and use this new information to provide my students with a holistic view of the history, politics, and cultural values of a region that has immense significance in the world today. Hopefully the information gained from this trip will assist students in reconciling some of the misconceptions about this area and provide them with a more global view of the world."

In addition to enriching discussions with students in the classrooms, the professors will also share their experiences in a series of meeting with members of the BVU campus community.

Through his experiences in Turkey, Evans has developed a strong interest in the nation's arts, particularly the ceramic traditions of Iznik and Kütahya. In the spring of 2007, he organized and curated an exhibition at Oklahoma City University (OCU), during which the works of several contemporary masters of traditional ceramic forms from Kütahya were displayed. Two of the artists, Ibrahim Erdeyer and Mehmet Gürsoy, were invited to OCU for a demonstration. The McCorkle Fellows will meet with some of these artists.

Arriving in Istanbul on June 18, the Fellows' itinerary will allow them to explore Turkey's cultural heritage from Greco-Roman times through Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, and now the modern Turkish Republic.

They will also visit a number of Turkish schools, which could lead to the development of relationships to further faculty development opportunities as well as field and student teaching experiences for BVU students, says Evans.

Evans has also worked extensively with interfaith dialog organizations to develop programming and other projects to foster intercultural and interfaith dialog, understanding and tolerance, particularly with regard to Islam. "On this trip, we will meet with several groups dedicated to the same end, as well as Turkish families who will open their homes to us for meals to develop one-on-one relationships and the kind of understanding that can lead to tolerance and peace," he adds.