After receiving the October 2018 version of our International Alumni Quarterly E-Newsletter, Philip C. Campbell (PhD sociology ’70, MA sociology ’63) wrote in to share his experiences from over 50 years in international education.
Philip C. Campbell
My early years were spent in a large co-op diversified farm community near Saline, Michigan, a small town about 50 miles west of Detroit. While Saline was relatively homogenous at the time, my life there was enriched with exposure to different people and lifestyles. Travelers visited the farm frequently and there were community activities that drew in people to listen to speakers, hear music, and see films about the wider world. Additionally, my family took Life magazine and I had access to National Geographic magazine through the public library. I looked forward to each edition of both, as the photographs of how others lived took hold of me. By the time I was in my teens, my thirst to learn and experience the world outside of the United States was certainly activated.
After completing my undergraduate education at Eastern Michigan University, I enrolled in the University of Iowa Department of Sociology in 1960, working as an assistant to Dr. Harold Saunders. After completing a master’s degree, my long-time dream of studying abroad was achieved after receiving an award to gather data for my doctoral dissertation in Sweden at Lund University. My wife and son joined me for the year and we traveled as much as we could and met as many of my Swedish relatives as possible.
While completing my dissertation work at the University of Iowa under the guidance of Dr. Roland Hawks, I worked as a lecturer in sociology at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD) as my family grew. In fact, I completed my Ph.D. degree from the University of Iowa in sociology just one month before our third child was born.
My involvement in international education increased at UMD. I volunteered to be on the foreign student committee having experienced being a “foreign” student myself at Lund University. I was also very influenced by the international students on campus and when they enrolled in my courses, I drew them into the mix of learning so their experiences and opinions could be useful and interesting to students from Minnesota.
Wherever possible, we need to make cross-cultural learning the focus and encourage study abroad.
My academic career helped me to return to Sweden for six months in 1980 (on a grant from the Swedish Institute to research and collect data on family social problems). By 1982, I was in Birmingham, England, for a UMD study in England program prior to being awarded and completing a Fulbright Exchange at Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham, England, the following year. The Nottingham experience allowed me to team teach with psychology instructors in classes on multicultural studies and to work with their international student program to learn more about how another society approaches this area of activity.
Philip C. Campbell in Iowa City, Iowa, circa 1963
Returning to the U.S. in the late summer 1983, my goals to make the break to live and work overseas seemed more realistic and the potential for that was more available. Yet, it took five years more before I moved to Germany to work with the University of Maryland teaching on military bases in southwestern Germany. While in Germany, I also worked with Brockport State University to manage an international internship program from 1997 to 2002 and was involved with an international student exchange classroom experience between the University of Maryland students and students at the University of Kaiserslautern from 1999 to 2010. I remained there until retirement in 2014, and elected to remain in Kaiserslautern, Germany, for the foreseeable future.
I firmly believe in the benefits of international education and cross-cultural exchange both from my own life experiences and my work as classroom instructor. Wherever possible, we need to make cross-cultural learning the focus and encourage study abroad. Living in a multicultural environment offers many opportunities to learn about different ways to experience life. It helps students move beyond seeing the entire world in negative relief to U.S. society—into a worldview with an appreciation for new practices and experiences.