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Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
May 5, 2006
DeKalb, Ill. — J.D. Bowers will get to know “the land of the midnight sun” quite well over the course of the next year. The Northern Illinois University history professor has won a prestigious Fulbright Scholar grant to teach in Norway.
Beginning in late August, Bowers will serve for nine months as the Fulbright Roving Scholar in American Studies for Norway, where he'll present lectures and workshops to high school teachers and students throughout the Scandinavian country.
“The aim is to infuse U.S. history into the world history perspective and English curriculums of the Norwegians,” said Bowers, who serves as coordinator of secondary teacher certification in the NIU Department of History.
His interest in the Fulbright Program was piqued when he attended a seminar hosted by NIU International Programs last year.
“That inspired me to apply, and thankfully I did,” he said. “I'll be able to come back and share with my students what it's like to live and work in a foreign culture with perspectives on history that are different from our own. One of my hopes is to make some connections so I can eventually take student teachers to Norway for short cultural immersions.”
Bowers has traveled widely, having worked previously as an American history teacher at high schools in Hawaii, Virginia and Uruguay. He also is no stranger to Scandinavia.
“I have some distant relatives in Sweden and I've been to Norway before,” Bowers explained. “It's a fascinating country, with some distinct cultural differences that we often overlook.”
A Fulbright panel based in Oslo interviewed Bowers via a real-time video feed over the Internet in January. The NIU professor won the competitive grant based on his proposal to lecture on topics including the U.S. history of religion, consumerism and pop culture and the media.
American media lectures will include viewings of televisions programs such as “The Simpsons” and “The West Wing,” Bowers said.
“Ironically, one of the more popular programs in Norway is Garrison Keillor's radio show (A Prairie Home Companion),” Bowers said. “Norwegians will actually schedule family time to listen to Keillor, who has been known to poke good-natured fun at Midwesterners of Scandinavian origin. The Norwegians think he's hilarious.”
Bowers also will lecture on the history and development of three distinctly different areas of the United States: Hawaii, the Midwest and the Southwest. He plans to bring historical context to current U.S. events as well.
Accompanying Bowers to Norway will be his wife, Kristy Wilson Bowers, who is an adjunct professor of history at NIU, and their twin daughters.
About 800 U.S. faculty and professionals will travel abroad to some 150 countries for the 2006-2007 academic year through the Fulbright Scholar Program.
Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the program's purpose is to build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.