Fulbright Takes Ed. Professor to South American University

Friday, February 10, 2012

Frank Bernt, Ph.D., professor of education, will head to South America this spring through a Fulbright Specialist Grant. Bernt will teach courses in assessment and adolescent spirituality at the Universidad Católica de Uruguay in Montevideo in April and May.

Bernt is no stranger to Uruguay or the Fulbright Program. This spring will mark his ninth journey to the country and his second Fulbright honor. Bernt first received a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award in 1994 to teach courses in educational psychology and research design.  Since then, he has taught a range of courses in Uraguay in psychology and education, and has mentored numerous graduate students with doctoral dissertations and master’s theses.  He currently serves as a consulting editor and contributor for a Universidad Católica de Uruguay publication, Ciencias Psicológicas.

“During my first years at SJU, I dreamed of teaching psychology courses in Spanish at some university — any university — in Latin America,” says Bernt. “I had a habit of thumbing through the Fulbright catalog each year, to see the places I might go.  In 1993, the Universidad Católica de Uruguay, which happens to be a Jesuit university, was looking for someone to teach educational psychology and research design courses.  It looked like a perfect fit, so I applied.”

Bernt is one of about 400 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad this year through the Fulbright Specialists Program. Created in 2000, the program provides short-term academic opportunities (two to six weeks) to support curricular and faculty development and institutional planning at post-secondary, academic institutions around the world. The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international educational exchange activity, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

In addition to teaching courses and consulting with graduate students on research projects at Universidad Católica, Bernt will meet with the psychology department to discuss a range of curriculum and assessment issues as they reform their curriculum and inaugurate a new doctoral program in educational psychology. Bernt also hopes to squeeze in some visits with friends and travel to the interior of the country.

“Uruguay is known as the ‘Switzerland of Latin America,’” Bernt says. “European influences—especially Italian and German, besides Spanish—are palpable. What is most intriguing is how family-oriented and warm ("cálido") its people are.  In many ways, Montevideo reminds me of a ‘South American version’ of Philadelphia in terms of how welcoming its community is.”

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