Two St. Thomas Faculty Receive Fulbright Awards

Candace Chou

Dr. Candace Chou

Two St. Thomas faculty members Dr. Candace Chou of the College of Education, Leadership and Counseling, and Dr. Heather Shirey of the College of Arts and Sciences will travel to Taiwan and China during the 2015-16 academic year as part of the Fulbright Scholar Program.

The Fulbright Scholar Program offers opportunities for American scholars, artists and professionals to conduct research, lecture and consult with other scholars and institutions abroad.

Chou, associate professor of organization learning and development in the College of Education, Leadership and Counseling, will travel to Taiwan for 10 months beginning August 2015. She will carry out research on efforts by the Taiwanese government to bridge the digital divide such as establishing “digital opportunity centers” in rural areas and creating online tutoring centers for students.

“I’ll be looking at the impact of these digital equity initiatives in education and in society as a whole,” Chou said. “We’ll do focus groups and interview people who are either implementers or recipients of these initiatives. And then my plan is to summarize this data and make recommendations (to the government or nonprofit running each initiative).”

Previously, Chou worked with the Minneapolis Public Schools to create professional development opportunities designed to train teachers using iPads in the classroom.

“I want to find out if there is a vast difference in different countries or is it the same?” Chou said. “Do people think ‘digital equity initiatives’ are simply putting machines into a room? What can we do to make it better?”

Environmental portrait of Art History professor Heather Shirey. Taken January 24, 2012 in the great room of O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library for CAS Spotlight magazine.

Dr. Heather Shirey

Shirey, associate professor and director of graduate studies in art history in the College of Arts and Sciences, will travel to China to teach American Art through 1980 during spring semester 2016. Tsinghua University in Beijing will serve as her host institution.

Shirey said she is excited that she will be able to teach about how race and ethnicity, particularly in regard to African and African-American art, relate to American art history in a different cultural context.

“In the United States our national dialogue about race and ethnicity is very complex,” Shirey said. “I think it will be a good challenge for me to teach in a new context, where students will have different perspectives when it comes to discussing everything from the Emancipation Proclamation to contemporary race relations.”

Shirey said she thinks teaching abroad will enhance her ability to teach international students or students who don’t speak English as their native language when she returns to St. Thomas.

“All of my teaching (in Beijing) will be in English, and the students are well-equipped to do their research and writing in English,” Shirey said. “I’m excited about having the experience of teaching students who choose to take a class in another language in order to work on their language skills it will be fun.”

For more information about the Fulbright Scholar program, visit the Grants and Research Office website or the official Fulbright Scholar Program site.