Canada and US academics exchange ideas and research through Fulbright

To date, 17 Fulbright scholars have travelled to UAlberta to continue their research.

Christopher Schiemann - 28 March 2019

Ruthann Godollei's first exposure to UAlberta was meeting and corresponding with Sean Caulfield, Centennial Professor in the Department of Fine Arts. From her conversations with Caulfield and exchanging print works with him, she knew that UAlberta has an amazing printmaking facility on campus. What she didn't know was how vibrant and lively the Edmonton arts scene is.

"The support for the arts here is something amazing," says Godollei, who's been visiting UAlberta as a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Arts and Humanities since January 2019. Based out of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, her work involves exploring social issues such as privilege, inequality and access to education. Seeing how education and the arts are treated in Alberta is something that delighted her. "I'm presenting at the Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists (SNAP) gallery space. It's accessible and total community focused and is a model for what we could be doing in St. Paul."

Godollei is visiting UAlberta through its agreement with Fulbright Canada regarding the Visiting Research Chairs program. This program provides funding and mobility opportunities for professors from the United States to continue their research in Canada while developing connections with host universities here. UAlberta has seven positions in six different faculties, including the Alberta School of Business, Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Native Studies.

"UAlberta is leading the country with the number of visiting scholars we host," says Dr. Cen Huang, Interim Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (International). She explains that UAlberta has been in partnership with Fulbright Canada since 1996 and participates in a number of other programs that provide mobility and funding opportunities for students, from undergraduate to postdoctoral, including the Killam Fellowships Program.

To date, 17 Fulbright scholars have travelled to UAlberta to continue their research. "Fulbright Canada allows mobility in both directions between Canada and the US, and we've sent students to some of the most prestigious schools in the world including Harvard and Yale."

Huang recognizes that Fulbright is a highly distinguished organization providing opportunities for scholars and students to travel between the US and countries around the world that may have been inaccessible otherwise. "This provides more options for our professors and students to connect with other US institutions that are great fits for their areas of interest," she explains. "By sending and receiving students and scholars, we can build our international connections and profile as well as exchange new ideas."

Huang adds that being connected to Fulbright brings many benefits to UAlberta. "Partnering with Fullbright allows some amazingly bright scholars to continue their research at UAlberta and exposes a much wider range of academics to what UAlberta has to offer in terms of programming and facility benefits," she says. "The exchange of ideas that comes about from visiting scholars can help direct UAlberta's research and programming into new areas and excel the knowledge base that we have in our faculties. Fulbright scholars share their research ideas and collaboration opportunities with our faculty and help profile the university with American academic communities."

For the 2018-19 academic year, UAlberta has hosted three visiting scholars: Godollei, Dr. Elliot Maltz from Willamette University who was hosted by the School of Business, and Dr. Jessica Shoemaker from the University of Nebraska's Rural Futures Institute who is being hosted by the Faculty of Law.

As the Faculty of Law's Fulbright Canada Research Chair on Aboriginal Legal and Resource Rights, Shoemaker's research is focused on Indigenous peoples' property rights on US reservation land. Through Fulbright, she was able to travel to the University of Alberta to explore how (and if) Canada has led or implemented any reforms allowing for better support for Indigenous people.

"The central focus of my work is finding legal structures that both help repair this historic (and ongoing) harm and support flexible pathways to renew more pluralistic Indigenous-designed land-tenure systems," explains Shoemaker. "In many respects, Canada and the United States have similar legal histories, but the two countries are addressing their respective colonial legacies in different ways today."

Through her research, Shoemaker is exploring the lessons learned that eventually led to the current Canadian state of Indigenous land rights and how those lessons can better inform future decisions made in the US. "Comparing [Canada and the US] is a great opportunity to effect the Fulbright mission to share knowledge and enhance mutual understanding," says Shoemaker. "Canada and the United States both have ripe opportunities to learn from the experiences of the other here."

Shoemaker recognizes that it is because of the programming through Fulbright Canada that more ideas can be exchanged, knowledge can be shared, and research can investigate new directions that may not have otherwise been explored.

"I am grateful to the law faculty at Alberta for giving me a space to do this work and to the many generous faculty members within the University of Alberta system who have taken time to share their expertise and ideas with me," says Shoemaker. "I have learned so much and am very grateful to be here. I'm looking forward to continuing to evolve this project and to be further engaged in this diverse and vibrant intellectual community in Canada."