Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz Fulbright

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz
University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Fulbright Senior Specialist to Portugal

One thing leads to another. This is the story of how I became a Fulbright Specialist in Portugal.

In May 2010 I retired from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. In fall 2010 I applied to the Fulbright Specialist Program, and was approved in spring 2011. This program funds 2 to 6 week visits in 2 countries during a period of 5 years, including airfare and a daily stipend (host institutions cover room and board and in-country travel if it is necessary). In September 2011, while at a conference in Paris, a colleague found out I would be traveling to Portugal for pleasure. He provided an email  introduction to a scholar there with overlapping interests, with the result that I was asked to give two talks at the Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra in November. There was a good fit between my project in France at that time (describing US higher education pedagogy) and the needs of a new teaching center at IPC, so I was asked to return for a longer visit. My host, Dr. Susana Gonçalves, is the director of the new center, Centro de Inovação e Estudo da Pedagogia no Ensino Superior (CINEP). She completed the necessary paperwork, and in spring 2012 the request was approved by both Portugal and the US State Department.

I spent 6 weeks at IPC across April and May 2012, working with the director and staff to determine what information is most relevant to their needs, presenting multiple workshops at the difference schools making up the university, and meeting individually and in small groups with faculty on a variety of pedagogical matters. Workshops included: “The transformation of higher education: Lessons from the US and implications for Portugal,” “Best practices in blended delivery,” “Active learning: Hands-on practice,” “The impact of student-centered learning for curricular design,” and “How to write exams so students need to come to class.”

Groups included one from the Engineering school interested in math pedagogy, and one from the Education school interested in reflective practice for preschool teachers. Individual consultations ranged even more widely, from very specific questions on a particular pedagogical technique, to more general questions about common academic concerns, including student motivation and integration of technology into courses. I was also invited to speak to students enrolled in a Master’s level course on marketing.

While in Coimbra, I was invited to present several talks on my research at the University of Coimbra and the University of Lisbon. I also met with the company members of Project Llull, which uses theatre to start intercultural dialogues.

In addition, I was able to connect some of the people I met through these various contexts with colleagues in the US or elsewhere having similar research, teaching, or administrative interests.

***Update: Publication resulting from this Fulbright

Politécnico de Coimbra

On November 8, 2011, I presented a talk entitled “Intercultural weddings and the simultaneous display of multiple identities” to the Escola Superior de Educação de Coimbra, Politécnico de Coimbra, Portugal.

Coimbra posterOn November 9, 2011, I presented another talk entitled “Constructing a community of practice around the scholarship of teaching and learning: The role of centers for teaching excellence” to the Centro de Inovação e Estudo da Pedagogia no Ensino Superior, also part of the Politécnico de Coimbra.

My host was Dr. Susana Gonçalves, Director of the Centro de Inovação e Estudo da Pedagogia no Ensino Superior (Center for Innovation and Higher Education Pedagogy) at the Politécnico.
After the talk, Susana, her colleague Mark Carpenter, and Dr. Maria João Pinto Cardoso, the Vice President of the Politécnico, made time for lunch and followup conversation about future activities.

My thanks to Susana for inviting me to come to Coimbra, and to Mark and his wife Carmo, for offering me and my husband gracious hospitality at their home for our few days in Coimbra. Mark and Susana made time to give us the grand tour of the old city.

While in Coimbra, I had time to meet with Dr. Nancy Duxbury, a Canadian scholar I had not seen in several years, currently part of the Research Group on Cities, Culture and Architecture, a project of the Centro de Estudos Scoials at the Universidade de Coimbra.

I look forward to future connections with all of these colleagues.

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz
Director, Center for Intercultural Dialogue