Fulbright scholar Hikaru Kobayashi lends climate change expertise

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Since 1999, North Central College has partaken in the Fulbright Scholar Program. Created by William Fulbright, who was a senator from Arkansas, the Fulbright Scholar Program is an exchange program that allows students and professors to teach and conduct research in a foreign country related to their field of interest.  

“The Fulbright program was established after World War II as an attempt to foster cross-cultural understanding in the hope that we would avoid future wars,” said John Shindler, director of international programs and English professor.

Currently, there are NCC students who are applying to the program for the year after their graduation to the country of their choice. In addition, North Central is accommodating a Fulbright Scholar from Japan, professor Hikaru Kobayashi.

“In this case, the program that we have at the professor level is part of what’s called Fulbright Scholar in Residence (SIR),” said Shindler. “And it means that any school in the United States can apply to the Fulbright commission in Washington and ask for a visiting professor to come to the college and teach or do research with faculty here.”

Although North Central has done this program for about 18 years, we have only been doing it every other year, bringing professors from Zimbabwe, China, Thailand, Tunisia, Canada, India, Egypt, Kenya and now Japan.

Shindler said that one of the reasons for choosing Kobayashi was because he’s trained in environmental studies, which complements the new environmental studies major North Central now offers.  

Kobayashi was also involved in a global project to control climate change. “He was very instrumental in the famous Kyoto Protocol, which was the first international agreement to decrease greenhouse gases in 1997.”

Kobayashi is currently teaching an environmental interdisciplinary seminar and will have his own global studies seminar in winter term and another IDS class about climate change in the spring. “I am excited to have an opportunity in which I will be involved in the pedagogic activities in a U.S. college,” Kobayashi said.  

Having the opportunity to have an experienced and skilled professor from another country benefits both the school and the students. “It gives us the chance to have a distinguished professor from another country with perspectives from that country,” Shindler said. “It gives us connections that we might not otherwise have and we’ve been able to develop programs or offer opportunities to students because of them.”

For example, North Central’s China/Japan study abroad program was created by our Chinese Fulbright Scholar. Without that connection to China, students wouldn’t have been able to participate in that study abroad program.  

“Our Egyptian scholar left me access to a whole set of case studies that she prepares in Cairo that professors from any discipline can use to see how various issues in marketing have been implemented in companies and all around the Middle East,” said Shindler.

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