Eastern Nazarene College Professor Randall J. Stephens will be teaching a little bit away from Quincy come spring 2012. In fact, he’ll be teaching in Norway.
Stephens was recently named a recipient of a J. William Fulbright fellowship, a prestigious international educational exchange award sponsored by the US government that lets Americans study, teach, and conduct research abroad.
Accepted into one of the more prestigious of the scholarship’s programs – the Roving Scholars in America program – Stephens will teach courses on US history to students and teachers throughout the European country.
“It’s quite an honor,” Stephens said. “It’s the only country in the world that has this particular program. It’s the only one that has a Fulbright program like this sponsored by the host country, so the Norwegian government pays for it as well.”
From American immigration to post-World War II pop culture; from civil rights to the Civil War, Stephen’s talks will range the full expanse of 19-20th century cultural and religious history.
“[It’s about] how Americans make sense of their history,” Stephens said. “It’s a nice coincidence that it’s the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and how we still fight about this history that dates back 150 years or more … there is a great interest in Europe about these ideological battles that have raged throughout history.”
If Stephens sounds assured in his direction, it is because he has had quite some time to think about what he wanted to do.
The application process was a lengthy one, Stephens said, which started in August of last year.
After being named a semi-finalist in December, Stephens would go through another round of interviews – including a Skype interview with Fulbright officials from Norway – before being named a scholarship winner.
At each stage, the applicants have to explain in full what they plan on doing through the government-sponsored program and how their work can add to the greater educational good.
Although Stephens was supposed to spend a year abroad teaching, he will instead only be doing six months. According to the professor, he will spend the next couple of months advertising and doing talks for his new book, written with co-author Karl Giberson on conservative evangelical experts.
This won’t be Stephen’s first book, however. The author of The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South (Harvard University Press, 2008), received the Smith-Wynkoop Book Award from the Wesleyan Theological Society and was also nominated for the 2008 Grawemeyer Award.
The professor is also the editor of Historically Speaking and associate editor of Fides et Historia.
Stephens has also been named a Top Young Historian by George Mason University’s History New Network.
Stephens said the academic community at the college has been very supportive of his initiative and his ability to win the Fulbright.
“They have been very supportive. It’s been great,” he said. “They broadcast it to the community, and gave me a professional achievement award for getting this, so its been terrific.”
Dr. Timothy Wooster, provost and academic dean of Eastern Nazarene College, echoed that sentiment.
“It is important for us at ENC to provide a vibrant academic environment that cultivates excellence in scholarship within our faculty and students,” he said in a release. “Earning the Fulbright Award is a testament to Randall’s ability to achieve at the highest level intellectually while also expecting the same from his students. We are extremely proud of this achievement.”
Stephens will return to ENC, where he has been an associate professor since 2004, after teaching in Norway for six months.