Three faculty earn Fulbright Scholar, Specialist awards

Three Grand Valley faculty members received Fulbright awards to teach and conduct research at an institution overseas.

Joel Stillerman, professor of sociology and faculty-in-residence in Honors, received a Fulbright Scholar award and plans to spend the upcoming fall semester at the Universidad Central de Chile, where he will co-teach a doctoral class on economic sociology and conduct research. 

Jeffrey Kelly Lowenstein, associate professor of journalism, broadcasting and digital media, and Ranelle Brew, professor of public health, both received Fulbright Specialist awards for short-term teaching and research opportunities.

Joel Stillerman in a short sleeve blue shirt standing against a brick wall
Joel Stillerman, professor of sociology, will teach and conduct research at the Universidad Central de Chile during the upcoming fall semester.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Stillerman said the research he conducts in Chile will build on his 2023 book, "Identity Investments: Middle-Class Responses to Precarious Privilege in Neoliberal Chile."

Stillerman said Chile has experienced growth from the political right since he finished research on that book. In 2022 and 2023, voters in Chile rejected two proposed draft constitutions, which Stillerman said poses questions about the middle class's role in recent political volatility.

"I developed a proposal last summer and will do qualitative research on middle class voters in three communities in Santiago to explore their attitudes," he said.

He said it complements the work of faculty at the Universidad Central de Chile who specialize in economic and political sociology. The private university was established in 1982. Stillerman said education reforms in the country passed in 1980, paving the way for the creation of private universities.

Fulbright Specialists

composite photo of Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, left, and Ranelle Brew
Jeffrey Kelly Lowenstein, left, and Ranelle Brew earned Fulbright Specialist awards for short-term assignments.

A program of the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Specialist Program is a unique opportunity for U.S. scholars to engage in two- to six-week, project-based exchanges at host institutions across the globe.

Kelly Lowenstein will teach and work with colleagues at the University of Athens in Greece. His time as a Fulbright Specialist will draw on Kelly Lowenstein's role as founder and executive director of the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism. The nonprofit's data editor, Sotiris Sideris, lives in Greece.

"The university has a strong program in data journalism," Kelly Lowenstein said. "Sotiris is an expert in public data and we'll bring this project to the students."

Kelly Lowenstein is a returning Fulbright recipient, serving as a scholar for a semester in Chile, a specialist in New Zealand and as a specialist and teacher in South Africa.

He said he also hopes to establish the groundwork for a partnership between Grand Valley and the University of Athens.

Brew received a Fulbright Specialist Award in December and is in the process of looking for a placement.

A veteran of international travel, Brew has led 11 study abroad trips for allied health and public health students while at Grand Valley. In August, she will conduct a site visit to Okinawa, Japan, to prepare for a 2024-2025 faculty-led study abroad program for public health. Okinawa fits in one of the five "Blue Zones," the places in the world with the healthiest, longest-living populations. The public health program has previously traveled to three of these locations.

Regardless of where Brew travels as a Fulbright Specialist, she said that work will come back to benefit students.

"Each one of my experiences during the study abroad trips has been brought back to the classroom," she said. "Regardless of if public health students are able to travel with the program, they benefit from the relevant content being shared within the public health classrooms."


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