University of Vermont

University Communications

Four Faculty Win Fulbrights for 2010-11 Academic Year

Release Date: 07-27-2010

Author: Jon C. Reidel
Phone: 802/656-8206 Fax: (802) 656-3203

Four members of the UVM faculty have been named Fullbright Scholars and will spend the 2010-2011 academic year studying abroad in Hong Kong, China, Tanzania and Kazakhstan.

Richard Johnson and Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin, both associate professors in the College of Education and Social Services; Jurij Homziak, extension assistant professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources; and Jon Erickson, associate professor of ecological economics in the Rubenstein School, were among 800 U.S. faculty and professionals awarded grants to lecture and conduct research in their chosen fields.

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the flagship international educational exchange program designed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries."

The following are brief descriptions of each faculty member's project plans:

Richard Johnson, associate professors in the College of Education and Social Services

Project Title: Hong Kong's New Public Administration: A Need for Cultural Competencies in the 21st Century

Description: Hong Kong's population is experiencing a great amount of change in its racial/ethnic population just as the U.S. and other countries in the world are. However, Hong Kong's public administration literature has yet to address this important shift in its population in any meaningful way. Though some changes may be happening from a national or local perspective, it is difficult to determine these changes living outside of Hong Kong. Nonetheless, Hong Kong will not only have to address the increased need for cultural competency within its own borders, but on the global stage as well. The latter will be particularly important if Hong Kong hopes to continue fostering economic and educational partnerships with other nations.

Johnson will teach a doctoral level policy course at Hong Kong Baptist University and write a book titled Hong Kong's New Public Administration: Organizational Cultural Competency in the 21st century.

Jon Erickson, associate professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

Project Title: One Health -- Transdisciplinary Disease Modeling and Inventions at the Human-Livestock-Wildlife Interface in Semi-Arid Ecosystems of East Africa

Description:Recent disease events have focused global attention on how land use change, natural resource management, and human population pressures alter the ecological balance between zoonotic pathogens -- diseases transmitted between species -- and their human and animal hosts. This project will synthesize understanding of zoonosis into a One Health framework for semi-arid, grassland systems of Africa to confront the interrelated challenge of disease epidemics and environmental degradation. A model will be developed for the Ruaha Landscape of Tanzania, where increasing water scarcity has led to conditions for disease transmission among pastoralist households, livestock, and wildlife species.

Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin, associate professor in the College of Education and Social Services

Project Title: American Higher Education in Global Perspective

Description:Gerstl-Pepin, who will teach at Beijing Normal University, one of the top higher education institutions in the field of education in China, will develop a collaborative research project designed to compare the U.S. and Chinese educational systems to help educators in the U.S. understand a country that has become one of three global economic superpowers over the past 30 years. She also plans to study why educational philosopher and UVM alumnus John Dewey is held in greater esteem in China than he is in the U.S.

Gerstl-Pepin will continue working on an edited book with Judith Aiken titled Defining Social Justice Leadership in a Global context, which examines the increasing need for school leaders to be knowledgeable about global politics, culture, and the educational systems of other countries. She will also continue working with Cynthia Reyes, associate professor in the College of Education and Social Services, on an edited book titled Re-Imagining the Role of the Public Intellectual in Education: Stories from the Inside, exploring how educational researchers and public advocates seek to share their understanding of educational research with a broader, general audience.

Jurij Homziak, extension assistant professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

Project Title: International Environmental Impact Assessment and Principles and Practices of Lake, Marine and Coastal Ecology for Kazakhstan

Description: There is a tremendous need for improved understanding of aquatic ecosystems and resources in Kazakhstan as both aquatic and coastal ecosystems are under threat. Dam construction for electricity and irrigation, large withdrawals of water for irrigation, oil and gas exploitation, deforestation, inadequately managed fisheries, and point and non-point pollution from agriculture, industry and urban development all pose serious threats. To counter and reverse these threats requires a broad understanding of the systems that are affected and how human activities can disrupt and change them.

Homziak plans to teach three courses designed to expand the knowledge of university students about the structure and organization of aquatic, inland marine and associated coastal ecosystems, and to promote their conservation, restoration and sustainable use. He also plans to teach students about the application and use of environmental impact assessment tools. Students for these courses will form the cadre of future environmental scientists, resource agency staff, teachers, and leaders of business, community and volunteer organizations for sustainable development in Kazakhstan, he said.