To say that Kelly Butler, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, is thrilled to have been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship would be a gross understatement.
Butler learned in March that she was going to India for nine months under a Fulbright Scholar grant. While there, she will lead faculty development workshops on the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) teaching method and she will assist in teaching classes under the program.
She will live and work in circumstances of which she is still uncertain. For example, she knows she needs to find a place to live, but hasn’t yet, and knows she will need to hire a cook and a driver (common in that country, where labor is inexpensive).
“I am extremely excited,” Butler says with a smile a mile wide. “I was surprised and thrilled when I was notified. I’m so lucky to be able to go there and live for nine months and experience the culture in a way I haven’t before.
“Of course, this is wonderful, but I don’t know yet how it will change my life, other than expanding my scholarship, academically,” she adds.
Wolfgang Natter, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, is working to establish an infrastructure of support at CHC to help students learn more about the Fulbright and other scholarship programs. He knows firsthand about the life-changing value of earning such an award, as he was a recipient twice, once as a graduate student and once as faculty.
“My colleagues and I are very proud of Dr. Butler for her award of this prestigious, peer-reviewed fellowship,” he says. “With her love of teaching, meritorious history as an engaged faculty member, and contributions to POGIL methodology and application, she will be an ideal representative of the College — and her country — during her Fulbright year. Her Fulbright brings both her and the College recognition for her teaching, scholarship and service, and I anticipate with excitement the good work Kelly will undertake as our Ambassador in India.”
Butler instituted the POGIL method in her classes 10 years ago with great success. This student-centered, active learning method has proven to be more effective than traditional lectures, which lead to rote memorization and regurgitation, but don’t help students learn to think critically, solve problems and apply the knowledge they already have.
A POGIL classroom consists of self-managed groups working on guided-inquiry activities with facilitation by the teacher, Butler explains. She was trained by the POGIL Project to facilitate workshops, which she has done for the past nine years and is the author of a workbook of POGIL activities.
The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 as an international educational exchange program. Sponsored by the U.S. government and funded (mainly) by Congress, the program is meant to foster mutual understanding between Americans and the people of other countries.
Butler is one of about 1,100 faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the U.S. Scholar Program in the coming year; one of more than 318,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, scientists and other professionals who have the chance to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns since its inception, according to a release issued by the U.S. Department of State.
A feature story about Kelly Butler’s Fulbright grant as well as CHC’s former awardees and the importance of such scholarship opportunities to the College and its students will run in the fall issue of Chestnut Hill magazine.
— Brenda Lange