MACOMB, Ill. — Western Illinois University Professor Emeritus John Carlson is working to bring the campus to the international community as he helps the Fulbright Foundation review applications for the 2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.
Carlson currently serves on the Fulbright Foundation’s Discipline Peer Review Committee for agriculture educators. His involvement with the Fulbright Foundation began in 2012 when he was named a Fulbright Scholar and spent a semester in Russia at the Ryazan State Agrotechnological University teaching international agriculture.
“While I was there, the Fulbright group in Moscow asked me to spend a few days with them, evaluating the final round of competition for Russian graduate students wanting to study in the United States,” said Carlson. “Since returning home, I have continued working on two evaluation boards for the Fulbright Foundation. One board evaluates Russian graduate students who are hoping to come to the United States, and the main emphasis is whether their credentials and proposed projects are technically sound. The other board evaluates American agricultural professors who want to be Fulbright Scholars in various countries across the world.”
Carlson said the evaluation typically centers on the adequacy of each applicant’s credentials and how well developed their proposed program is.
“In total, I evaluate 25-30 candidates each year,” he said. “It is interesting work and, while I am retired, keeps me active in my field — international agriculture.”
The candidates who are recommended by the peer review committees are considered for awards to more than 140 countries around the world. The evaluation work is important, Carlson said, because those coming to the United States and the Americans traveling abroad have “huge effects on the understanding people have of life and culture in other countries.”
“In many cases, it is the first time that people here may get to actually know a Russian on a one-on-one basis, and people in other countries know about the United States but have very likely never gotten to really know one personally and understand why we do things as we do, which might be much different from how they live,” said Carlson. “I would strongly encourage faculty at WIU to check out the Fulbright program and get engaged internationally. There are a lot of good opportunities to grow professionally and personally and to help those in other countries better understand American life.”
WIU School of Agriculture Director Andy Baker said he is pleased Carlson is continuing his work with the Fulbright Foundation beyond his retirement.
“Dr. Carlson’s expertise in international agriculture continues to expand and broaden in scope, which is certainly reflected in his recent travels to Russia,” said Baker. “We appreciate Dr. Carlson’s dedication and commitment to the Fulbright program and the individuals he has influenced through his years of service.”
For more information on Fulbright programming, visit cies.org/about-us.
— Western Illinois University
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