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Fulbright awards take professors to China and Ghana

Connie Cook, with a fellow researcher in front of ancient tomb in China, will use her Fulbright Scholarship to study recently discovered bamboo books dating from the third and fourth centuries B.C.

Profs. Constance Cook and Edwin Kay are headed to overseas destinations next academic year, supported by Fulbright Faculty Scholarships.

Cook, professor of Chinese and director of the Asian Studies Program, will spend six months in the history department at Beijing Normal University, one of China’s premiere institutions. She will collaborate with colleagues studying  bamboo books recently discovered in 3rd and 4th century B.C. tombs. Her goal is to gain a better understanding of ancient rituals related to ancestor worship and to the training of youths who were heirs to thrones.

The award of the Fulbright Scholarship is timely, as Cook is writing a book titled Ancestors, Kings, and the Dao, which will examine the Confucian re-configuration of rituals performed hundreds of years before Confucius’ birth. The information from the bamboo books will provide the post-Confucian fliter of the older forms of these rituals reflected on Zhou bronze inscriptions.

While in China, Cook expects to attend conferences on the texts, many of which will be published for the first time while she is in China.

“The Fulbright award gives me the chance to do research at the pulse of this field and to work with highly regarded Chinese scholars,” she says.

Cook has led Lehigh’s study abroad program to China in Shanghai since 2003. She’s also active in the Chinese Bridge Project.

An optimal means for achieving academic goals

Cook says Lehigh student interest in Chinese language learning has quadrupled in the last five years, and she predicts it will continue to climb, especially when Lehigh begins ofering a major in Chinese in the fall of 2011.

Kay, the associate chair of the computer science and engineering department, has served during his Lehigh tenure as a Peace Corps volunteer and later a Rotary Scholar in Cameroon, where he taught mathematics and computer science at the University of Buea. In 2001, Kay led a group of Lehigh students to Kenya to set up computer classrooms in remote villages at the base of Mount Kenya.

This fall, Kay will become a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Ashesi University College in Ghana. During the 2010-2011 school years, he will teach courses and help develop the university’s curriculum in computer science and mathematics. Ashesi, which began classroom instruction in 2002 and enrolls just over 450 students, is still in its infancy, and this situation gives Kay the opportunity to design courses and create materials that may become core components of Ashesi’s computer science curriculum.

Kay looks forward to discovering how much of the life and customs he learned in Cameroon and Kenya carry over into Ghanaian society. He hopes to become a liaison for Ashesi students or faculty who want to come to Lehigh, and thereby open up a line of communication similar to the exchanges he has already made possible between Lehigh and Cameroon’s University of Buea. Ten Cameroonian students have now earned degrees from Lehigh in part because of Kay’s work at Buea.

“The Fulbright Program,” he says, “offers the optimal means of making each of these goals possible.”

The deadline for the faculty Fulbright Program for the 2011/12 academic year is August 2, 2010. For more information, please visit http://www.cies.org/


Story by William Hunter and Matthew Kilbride
 

Posted on Friday, June 25, 2010

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