In celebration of International Education Week, The Forum on Education Abroad announces the recipients of its Undergraduate Research Awards and its Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design.
Undergraduate Research Awards
The Forum is proud to announce the winners of this year’s Undergraduate Research Awards:
Students: Wesley Hauser, Wabash College and Erin Emmons, College of the Holy Cross
Nominating member: The School for Field Studies (SFS)
Program: The School for Field Studies Rainforest Studies Program
Project: “Putting Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo on the Map: Using Present Distribution to Assess Habitat Requirements and Identify Areas for Further Surveys”
Student: Alexx Temeña, Brown University
Nominating member: Antioch Education Abroad
Program: Antioch Education Abroad Buddhist Studies in India
Project: “’Others before Self:’ Buddhist Influences at Tibetan Children’s Village, Selakui”
The Forum’s Undergraduate Research Award recognizes excellence in academic work completed by students as part of an education abroad program. The students will present their work at a plenary session at The Forum’s Eleventh Annual Conference in New Orleans on March 27, 2015. The students’ projects were judged by faculty from Forum member institutions, who found them to be the best examples of the highest quality academic achievements of undergraduates studying abroad.
Nominated projects encompass a wide variety of fields, demonstrating that international learning informs many academic disciplines. Forum President and CEO Brian Whalen said that “this year the selection committee had a difficult task to select the winners from the 36 nominations received. These student winners are clearly deserving, and represent the very best of what we want our students to achieve through education abroad.”
Wesley Hauser, a senior at Wabash College, and Erin Emmons, a senior at the College of the Holy Cross, conducted their research while participating in a program sponsored by The School for Field Studies (SFS) at the SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies in Yungaburra, Queensland, Australia. Their project involved the development of a map of the current distribution of Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo, the determination of its habitat requirements, and the identification of suitable habitats for the species for which no sighting records exist, in order to plan future survey activities. Wesley and Erin’s faculty advisor wrote, “Wes and Erin are mature, very focused and organized students. Based on their enthusiasm to tackle challenges, their persistent work on research projects, their skills to manage and solve problems, their ability to reason and critical thinking, and to effectively collaborate, I fully support their nomination for the National Forum on Education Abroad’s Undergraduate Research Award. Both students are very suitable candidates for a future career in scientific research.”
Upon being notified of winning the award, Wesley wrote, “The powers of collaboration, diligence, and community engagement all come into play over the course of my international research experience, and ultimately, I believe these characteristics are necessary for understanding and addressing complex issues. I couldn’t be happier that The Forum on Education Abroad recognizes the collective value of these traits and for the opportunity to share my work again in the future.”
Erin told the Forum: “I am extremely honored to receive this prestigious award from The Forum on Education Abroad. From the beginning, Wes and I conducted our research under the overarching goal of making an impact on conservation of the Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo. It is incredible to be recognized by The Forum, and to have the opportunity to present at The Forum’s Annual Conference, which will enable us to share information about the species and the implications of our findings, in hopes of contributing to conservation efforts on a scale that we never could have imagined.”
Alexx Temeña is in the fourth year of a five-year combined A.B./Sc.B. Program in Contemplative Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at Brown University. While enrolled in the Antioch Education Abroad Buddhist Studies Program in Bodh Gaya, India, Alexx conducted research to examine the role of Buddhism and how it affects the social and emotional well-being of students at Tibetan Children’s Village, Selakui. Data was gathered through formal and informal interviews with students and teachers, direct observation, and participation in school activities. Alexx’s research challenged the dichotomy of the religious and the secular, shedding light on Buddhism as inextricable to Tibetan cultural identity.
One of Alexx’s professors remarked, “Not only is the subject matter of her project important as it operates within the boundaries of several disciplines and geographical as well as ethnic categories, but her exceptionally effective research in the field produced an excellent original research report. I would be willing to go as far as saying that the work she did was groundbreaking, especially for Antioch University.”
When told of winning the award, Alexx responded, “My project in Dehra Dun, India launched me on a path of thinking critically and carefully about how mindfulness is taking hold in America. What I found through my fieldwork challenged my assumptions about Buddhism and helped me reflect on my perspective of the culture and religion as an American-raised and largely non-religious person. I was surprised and overjoyed to learn that I received the award.”
Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design
The Forum is pleased to announce that this year’s Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design goes to a group of faculty members from Dickinson College and Akita International University for their interdisciplinary course, “Living Well in Later Life,” offered as part of Dickinson’s U.S.-Japan Global Scholars Program. Please join us in congratulating Professors Shawn Bender, John Henson, Dave Sarcone and Shalom Staub, all of Dickinson College, and Professor Yoshitaka Kumagai of Akita International University.
The Forum’s Award for Excellence in Curriculum Design honors faculty who develop and implement innovative and effective education abroad curricula. It is the education abroad field’s only award presented to an individual or group of individuals for excellence in the design of an education abroad course. By recognizing the outstanding efforts of faculty who are committed to the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, The Forum hopes to inspire the field as a whole to continue to strive for enrichment of education abroad curricula, and to continually reflect on how we may best encourage student learning abroad.
“Living Well in Later Life” examines the community health of two structurally similar but geographically distant regions: Yurihonjo, Akita Prefecture, Japan; and Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States. Organized jointly by Akita International University and Dickinson College, the program seeks to measure the health of these communities based on an investigation of resident “Quality of Life.” Students interact with policy makers and program specialists at multiple levels in order to understand the social, cultural, and economic factors affecting the quality of life for elderly Japanese and Americans, working in a multicultural group comprised of students from Akita International University and Dickinson College. They gather data on Quality of Life in each community using quantitative and qualitative research methods, and present their findings to community members in each location.
Selection committee chair, Wendy Lombardo of Arcadia University’s College of Global Studies, remarked, “We were very impressed by the level of integration into the local community, the comparative nature of the course and overall academic structure of ‘Living Well in Later Life.’ This course truly gives students a unique international opportunity.” Forum President and CEO Brian Whalen thanked the selection committee “for its excellent work in reviewing the twenty-four nominated courses for this year’s award.”
The award will be presented at The Forum’s Eleventh Annual Conference, It Takes a Campus and More: The Faces of Education Abroad, in New Orleans on March 27, 2015, where Professors Sarcone and Bender will present at a session about the course.