Sunday, June 14, 2020

Communication studies and Spanish and Portuguese Professor Kristine L. Munoz poses for a photo in her home

The University of Iowa is thrilled to announce that Kristine L. Munoz, a professor in the Departments of Spanish and Portuguese and communication studies, has been selected as a Fulbright Scholar to Colombia for the 2020-21 academic year. 

Munoz is one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research, or provide expertise abroad for the 2020-2021 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected based on academic and professional achievement as well as a record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.

Munoz's research in Medellín, Colombia, will focus on peace efforts set in motion by the Havana Peace Accord in 2016 between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrilla movement (FARC), specifically, the establishment of a Cátedra de la Paz (a Peace Course) to be taught to every student from preschool through adult education, in the hopes of creating a culture of peace.

Through interviews and document analysis, collaborating with a team of Colombian researchers from the College of Education at the University of Antioquia, Munoz will study the Peace Course in ten private and public schools throughout Medellín, investigating the various ways different schools define what it means to 'teach peace.'

"I’m grateful that the University of Iowa has been a place I’ve been able to learn and try different things, and to the Fulbright for giving me the chance to go back to what I was originally trained to do."

"I’ve been doing community work in Medellín since 2016 in one particular school, and I’ve watched them develop the Peace Course within their specific context, which includes many vulnerable students, and families whose members have returned to the city from both the guerrilla forces and the paramilitaries. Any effort to establish peace will have to begin with understanding the different ways teachers approach the subject in their classrooms in places in Medellín where people may have little idea of how the world looks to their neighbors just a mile or so away. Colombia has been my primary area of research for close to 40 years and this is an extension of that. It’s a return to a social science investigation after several years of learning to do public digital humanities storytelling. I’m grateful that the University of Iowa has been a place I’ve been able to learn and try different things, and to the Fulbright for giving me the chance to go back to what I was originally trained to do. The Peace Course raised a question that really couldn’t be answered any other way."

After her return, Munoz hopes her work will provide find ways to connect and collaborate with University of Iowa colleagues at the College of Education. 

"I know there are UI faculty active in teaching social justice in U.S. American schools," said Munoz.  "That seems like a strong connection to what they’re doing in Colombia, within a quite different historical and economic context. The theme of violence as a public health crisis is another research area I’m hoping to move into."

In advice to her fellow colleagues who might be considering their own Fulbright grant, Munoz offers the following advice: 

"Take advantage of all the help that’s available as you prepare your application, both online through the Fulbright portal and locally. Grants Administrator Ann Knudson (International Programs) and Research Support Administrator Kristi Fitzpatrick (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) were really terrific readers and very encouraging once I had a draft for them to read. Finally, don’t let what looks like a complicated grant application discourages you!  This one is actually quite painless compared to most other federal grant applications: straightforward, very little repetition, common sense. I learned a lot from the application process itself and really, even if I hadn’t gotten the grant I would firmly say it was worth applying. Of course, I’m very happy I got it!"

Learn more about the UI resources for applying to the Fulbright Scholar Program 

University faculty members at all stages of their careers can apply to become Fulbright Scholars. Grant recipients can teach, do research abroad, or a combination of both for time periods ranging from 2-6 weeks up to a semester or entire year.