Speaking

"Jim was the right speaker to ignite a pedagogical fire under my colleagues and me to begin a new academic year. His presentation at our Back-to-School faculty meeting resonated with part-time and full-time faculty, and comments confirmed that he was our most edifying speaker ever. Fisher College student-teacher experiences are better because of him."

Karen Meyer
Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence
Fisher College

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Pope and Harry Potter

Last spring, over plates of sausages at a pub in Montreal, my older brother Tony and I outlined an essay about the relationship between fantasy literature and religious faith in America today. We began with a discussion of the Pope's comments on Harry Potter from a few years ago, and then backtracked to an obscure Scottish fantasy writer from a few hundred years ago, before moving forward again to more contemporary devils and vampires.

In early October the essay that we mapped out in Montreal was published in Notre Dame Magazine. We'd love to hear your comments on it, so please click on the title of this blog post, read the essay, and let us know what you think!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fulbright!

For the second post in a row, I am deviating from what has been the usual subject matter of this blog to share some exciting career news.

Back in the spring of this year, I decided to apply for the Fulbright Specialist Program. Unlike a traditional Fulbright award, for which you propose a research project to be completed in another country, the Specialist Program appoints you to a roster of experts in various fields who are then paired up with overseas institutions for two-to-six week mini-grants. Instead of working on a project of your own, you are there to help the requesting country/institution with a local problem or project.

Since English literature is not one of the areas in which you can apply for the Specialists Program, and since most of my published work has been in the area of teaching and learning in higher education, I applied as an expert in higher education teaching, learning, and administration. My application specified that I could work with new faculty or graduate students on developing their teaching skills, on helping graduate students apply for jobs at American universities, on helping establish or develop Honors Programs, or on working on cheating or academic integrity issues.

Last week I received the happy news that my application was accepted, and that I will be on the Fulbright Specialist roster for the next five years. This program fits much more easily into my life than a traditional Fulbright Program, which generally requires a semester or full year abroad. If all of my children were smaller, I might have been able to manage the logistics of a semester abroad with my family, but with the age range now from fifteen down to seven, covering high school down to second grade, I didn't think we could pull it off.

Hopefully sometime soon I'll get my next big news from Fulbright, letting me know that they have a match for me somewhere in the world.

If any readers of this post have been a part of the Specialist Program, I'd love to hear how your experience was—so by all means please share below, and let me know what to expect!