Tuesday, May 22, 2007

First Blog--Why Malta?

I am new to blogging, but thought this might be a good way to share my experiences as a Fulbright Scholar in Malta. I will be going in Fall 2007. While there I'll be teaching International Law and US Foreign Policy at the University of Malta. They use a British system of education. That means my courses will go for two semesters, with hardly any grading during the semester. Instead, students will have a few assignments and a medium-sized exam at the end of the first semester and a big one in June. That is quite different from the typical American style of grades by attrition--lots of smaller assignments.

The Fulbright Scholarship got started after WWII and it aims to improve relations between people by having scholars spend an extended time in another country. You have to apply for it, and it is a long process. Graduating seniors and grad students can apply through IIE, while scholars like myself go through CIES (Council for the International Exchange of Scholars). Other countries send their citizens to the US as Fulbright Scholars. In fact, Michigan Tech (www.mtu.edu), my university, has eight Fulbrights from other countries right now.

People ask me "why Malta?" It's a fair question, since a lot of my research is on US-Canada relations. I want a radically different setting from my current place and would welcome a small European nation perspective on the US. I think it will improve my teaching and even my understanding of US-Canada relations (for example, Malta was a British colony, though it came after both the US and Canada. Moreover it invited British help, due to the threat from Napoleon--that comparison might be useful). I also have an avocational interest in Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War. Malta is beautifully suited to exploring that topic.

I also liked that the University of Malta has a Mediterranean Institute of Diplomacy, a training institute related to the International Maritime Organization, and faculties of law and of international relations. I expect to learn a lot from and to contribute to these units.

And, well, after many years of Lake Superior winters, I have to admit that an academic year in the Mediterranean sounded just lovely.

No comments: