Study of the United States Institute for Scholars

Deadline for application: December 20, 2018

The U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria is now accepting applications for seven Study of the U.S. Institutes for multinational groups of experienced university faculty, scholars, and other professionals. The program will take place at various colleges, universities, and institutions throughout the United States over the course of six weeks beginning in June 2019 or later.  Each Institute includes a four week academic residency component and up to two weeks of an integrated study tour. Information about last year’s Institutes can be found here: http://exchanges.state.gov/susi.

Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars are intensive post-graduate level academic programs with integrated study tours whose purpose is to provide foreign university faculty and other scholars the opportunity to deepen their understanding of U.S. society, culture, values, and institutions.  The ultimate goal of these Institutes is to strengthen curricula and to enhance the quality of teaching about the United States in academic institutions abroad.

This year institute themes are:

  • Contemporary American Literature

The Institute will provide a multinational group of up to 18 foreign university faculty and scholars with a deeper understanding of U.S. society and culture, past and present, through an examination of contemporary American (U.S.) literature.  Its purpose is twofold: to explore contemporary American writers and writing in a variety of genres; and to suggest how the themes explored in those works reflect larger currents within contemporary U.S. society and culture.  The program will explore the diversity of the American literary landscape, examining how major contemporary writers, schools, and movements reflect the traditions of the U.S. literary canon.  At the same time, the program will expose participants to writers who represent a departure from that tradition, and who are establishing new directions for American literature.

  • Journalism and Media

The Institute will provide a multinational group of 18 journalism instructors and other related specialists with a deeper understanding of the roles that journalism and the media play in U.S. society.  The Institute will examine the rights and responsibilities of the media in a democratic society, including editorial independence, journalistic ethics, legal constraints, international journalism, and media business models.  The Institute will cover strategies for teaching students of journalism the basics of the tradecraft: researching, reporting, writing, and editing.  The program will also highlight technology’s impact on journalism, such as the influence of the internet, the globalization of the news media, the growth of satellite television and radio networks, and other changes in media that are transforming the profession.

  • Religious Freedom and Pluralism

The Institute will provide a multinational group of up to 18 foreign university faculty and practitioners with a deeper understanding of U.S. society and culture, past and present, through an examination of religious pluralism in the United States and its intersection with American democracy.  Employing a multi-disciplinary approach and drawing on fields such as history, political science, anthropology and sociology, law, and others, the program will explore both the historical and contemporary relationship between religion and state in the United States.  Participants will examine the ways in which religious thought and practice have influenced, and been influenced by the development of American-style democracy. Study will also include a survey of the diversity of contemporary religious beliefs in relation to the 1st amendment to the US constitution, elections, public policy, and the demography of the United States.  Interfaith dialogue in the American context will be practiced in the context of the group itself as well as site visits to a diversity of religious communities.

  • American Culture and Values

The Institute will promote American culture, leadership, and values by providing a multinational group of 18 experienced and highly motivated foreign university faculty and other specialists with a deeper understanding of U.S. society, civil society institutions, democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law.  The Institute will examine the concepts of American exceptionalism and American resilience through social, economic, political, and religious contexts in which, historically, various cultures have manifested and shaped contemporary U.S. culture, values, and society.  The program will draw from a diverse disciplinary base and should itself provide a model of how a foreign university might approach the study of U.S. culture and values.

  • S. Foreign Policy

The Institute will provide a multinational group of 18 experienced foreign university faculty and practitioners with a deeper understanding of new approaches to U.S. foreign policy and how U.S. foreign policy is formulated and implemented.  The Institute will include a historical review of significant events, individuals, and philosophies that have shaped U.S. foreign policy.  The Institute will explain the role of key players in U.S. foreign policy including the executive and legislative branches of government, the media, the U.S. public, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and multilateral institutions.  The program will also examine the current U.S. foreign policymaking and the new trends that are shaping policy.  Topics such as the concept of American sovereignty, shifting attitudes towards globalism, U.S. foreign aid, the monitoring of foreign investment in the United States, the efforts to combat terrorism and radicalization, new trade policies and agreements, immigration and border safety, and cybersecurity will be included.  The program will also discuss the reorganization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the new U.S. approaches to international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

  • American Politics and Political Thought

The Institute will provide a multinational group of 18 experienced foreign university faculty and practitioners insight into how intellectual and political movements have influenced modern American political institutions and a deeper understanding of major currents in U.S. political thought from the colonial period to the present.  Drawing upon the American Political Development approach, the Institute will provide a full and diverse understanding of U.S. political thought and its connection to U.S. politics, public policy, and institutions by linking contemporary issues with historical and social debates.  The Institute will explore particular themes including self-rule and limited government, liberty and freedom, individualism and identity, equality and inequality, and the American Dream.  The Institute will conclude with an integrated two-week study tour to New York City; Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Shepherdstown, West Virginia; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Washington, D.C.

  • Youth, Workforce Development, and Closing the Skills Gap

The Institute will provide a multinational group of 18 experienced foreign faculty and practitioners with a deeper understanding of how new socioeconomic trends have changed the concept of work, workforce development, and career paths in the United States.  The academic program will include a thorough discussion of the role of U.S. educational institutions, particularly community colleges, in preparing Americans with the skills needed to succeed in multiple industries including business, technology, science, the creative arts, and other emerging fields.  Topics such as urbanization, globalization, economic development, and advances in technology such as automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence will also be included.  The Institute will offer opportunities for participants to research new ideas, in conjunction with American peers, to better understand the evolution of work, the changing demand for skills, and the advancements in workforce development through retraining, reskilling, and closing the skills gap.

 COSTS AND OTHER ESSENTIAL INFORMATION:

All participant costs will be covered. When possible, each participant will have a private room with a shared bathroom during the residency portion (four weeks) of the Institute.  However, private room accommodations cannot be guaranteed during the residency portion of the program.  During the study tour (up to two weeks), participants will likely share a hotel room with another participant of the same gender.  During the residency, housing will typically be in college or university owned housing.  Most meals will be provided at campus facilities, though participants may have access to a kitchen to cook some meals on their own.

Applicants will be expected to participate fully in the program. They are expected to attend all lectures and organized activities, and complete assigned readings. Family members and/or friends cannot accompany participants on any part of the program. Please note that teaching methodology and pedagogical methods will not be addressed formally in the institute. Applicants should be aware that they are applying for an intensive institute and there will be little time for personal pursuits unrelated to the program. The institute is not as a research program.

APPLICANT DESCRIPTION AND QUALIFICATIONS:

Study of the U.S. Institutes are highly competitive. Priority will be given to candidates who have firm plans to enhance, update or develop courses and/or educational materials with a U.S. studies focus or component; who have no prior or limited experience in the United States; and who have special interest in the program subject areas as demonstrated through past scholarship, accomplishments, and professional duties.  English Language fluency is required.

Candidates should be mid-career, typically between the ages of 30-50, highly-motivated and experienced scholars and professionals (Bulgarian nationals) generally from institutions of higher education or research focused organizations (not-for-profits, think tanks, etc.). While the educational level of participants will likely vary, most should have graduate degrees and have substantial knowledge of the thematic area of the Institute or a related field.

Ideal candidates are individuals whose home institution is seeking to introduce aspects of U.S. studies into its curricula, to develop new courses in the subject of the Institute, to enhance and update existing courses on the United States, or to offer specialized seminars/workshops for professionals in U.S. studies areas related to the program theme. While the nominee’s scholarly and professional credentials are an important consideration, the potential impact and multiplier effect of the Institute is equally important.

Applicant Statement: In order to get a better sense of potential participants’ motivations and goals, the US Embassy requests that each applicant provide a strong candidate statement that should convey why the participant is interested in participating in the particular Institute, what s/he expects to gain from the experience, and what s/he will bring to the program. Most importantly candidate statements should describe the candidate’s capacity and plans to keep the impact of the Institute beyond their own knowledge and research. Please observe the limit of 250 words.

In order to apply, please submit the completed Application Form and the Essay by December 20, 2018 via e-mail to: SofiaEducationPrograms@state.gov