July 26, 2007

The 2007 recipients of the McCorkle Fellows Award will depart for a faculty development experience this summer in India.

The Fellows are:

  • Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya, assistant professor of religion
  • Dr. Wind Goodfriend, assistant professor of experimental psychology
  • Dr. Robbie Ludy, professor of education
  • Dr. William Sherrard, an adjunct instructor at the Council Bluffs Center, who teaches upper division history courses and several mathematics classes

This new faculty development program was established through the generosity of Life Trustee Paul McCorkle and his late wife, Vivian, who was also a BVU trustee. It provides selected faculty members with an opportunity for international travel to enhance their scholarly knowledge and to add international dimensions to the curriculum. Faculty seminars both precede and follow the travel experience. The group left on July 24 and return in early August.

The first group of BVU professors selected as McCorkle Fellows in 2006 traveled to Argentina and Peru to focus on globalization issues with a special emphasis on literacy and its role in building an effective world community. That group included: Drs. Stan Bochtler, and Ann Withrow of the School of Education; Dr. Scott Richey of the School of Communication and Arts; Dr. Peter Steinfeld of the School of Social Science, Philosophy and Religion and Tom Haskell, associate director of the Council Bluffs Center.

"The first McCorkle Fellows clearly were energized by their readings, their travel, and their reflection of their experiences," says Dr. Michael Whitlatch, interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. "I know the experience helped shape their classes and their interactions with their students this year in ways that can't be quantified. All you need to do is to be around a McCorkle Fellow and you'll know they been changed by the opportunity to visit another culture."

For this year and next, the faculty experiences are tied to BVU's "Bridges" program, an internationally-themed, cross-disciplinary designed to link three aspects of the academic curriculum: study-travel, courses from all five of BVU's schools and the Academic and Cultural Events Series (ACES) performances and lectures. For the 2006-07 academic year, the Bridges focus was on Latin America. The focus for the 2007-08 year will be Colonialism.

Dr. Bhattacharyya said the Fellows have decided to visit three major cities in India: Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad. In each city, they will focus on various museums, historical sites and visit scholars and professionals. Through a connection of Dr. Ludy, the Fellows will also have the opportunity to explore their various areas of study with faculty at the University of Visakhapatnam.

Drs. Bhattacharyya and Goodfriend are also taking students on a travel course to India during BVU's January interim and will be visiting eight cities. This is one of several Bridges related trips.

Last summer, Bhattacharyya spent six weeks on a research project in the Brahma Vidya Mandir in Maharashtra, India, a small community of women established in 1959 by Vinoba Bhave, a follower of Gandhi. The women challenge assumptions that utopian ideas of nonviolence and sustainability are impractical, says Bhattacharyya, who interviewed the women and is writing a book about their lives. She also used examples from her experience to anchor discussions in several of her classes at BVU.

She will be returning to the Brahma Vidya Mandir to continue her research earlier in the summer, and again in Spring 2008, when she will be taking a semester leave of absence from her teaching.