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Fulbright Finland News Magazine

Three U.S. Scholars Win the New Strategic Award

17 June 2021 • Text: Maija Kettunen, Emmi Jelekäinen

Three U.S. scholars have been awarded the Fulbright Finland Foundation’s new strategic grant, the Seeking Solutions for Global Challenges Award, for the academic year 2021-22. The inaugural recipients of the award are Associate Professor Peter Friedrich from Berry College, Associate Professor Lora Harris from the University of Maryland, and Professor Steven Livingston from George Washington University.

On this first application round the new award immediately became one of the most viewed awards in the global Fulbright U.S. Scholar Catalog listing over 400 Fulbright scholar awards around the world. Due to the very high quality of applications, the Board of Directors of the Foundation decided to fund three inaugural awards.

Headshots of Peter Friedrich, Lora Harris, and Steven Livingston
The inaugural recipients of the Seeking Solutions for Global Challenges Award are Associate Professor Peter Friedrich, Associate Professor Lora Harris, and Professor Steven Livingston.

Peter Friedrich will be hosted by Åbo Akademi University in Turku, and his project will use theatre to broker partnerships between college students and members of migrant communities.

“When we seek solutions to the world’s toughest challenges, Theatre doesn’t immediately come to mind. That’s what makes this award from the Fulbright Finland Foundation such a special honor and responsibility. It’s also a welcoming sign that many Finns see potential in my art to make a real and lasting difference. I cannot wait for the work for them to begin at Åbo Akademi,” he says.

Lora Harris will be hosted at the Tvärminne Zoological Station, a laboratory of the University of Helsinki. “My generation of coastal ecologists were trained by those who spent their careers documenting and communicating the causes and mechanisms of ecosystem decline over the past century. The Seeking Solutions for Global Challenges award provides me with the space to think deeply about the trajectories we seek around restoring these systems, using a comparative framework between the Baltic and Chesapeake Bay. How do we find a path forward towards improved water quality when the baseline conditions of climate or food web dynamics have changed? This award gives me the time to combine understanding from our basic research discoveries with practical and pragmatic problem solving,” Harris explains. 

Steven Livingston’s project, “The Sustainability of Liberal Democracy in the Digital Era”, brings him to the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives at the University of Helsinki. His aim is to create connections between European and American scholars who share an interest in finding solutions to the growing global threat of far-right extremist groups and ideologies.

“In some ways, my selection for the Seeking Solutions for Global Challenges Award is the culmination of the last several years of my professional life,” Livingston says. “In that time, I’ve lead prestigious research groups in the investigation of the threats to democracy and I founded a research institute in Washington, D.C. that seeks to understand the nature of disinformation. Now I will bring my work to Finland as I benefit from the enormous intellectual talent at the University of Helsinki. I’m grateful for the opportunity and eager to get started.”

The award was created by the Board of Directors of the Fulbright Finland Foundation in 2019 to support the Foundation’s vision to “empower the minds that will find global solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.” The focus of the award is broadly aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Selected scholars can represent a wide range of academic disciplines. The award is also available for Finnish professionals and postdoctoral researchers from any field for visits at U.S. institutions or organizations.

Read the whole Fulbright Finland News magazine 1/2021!