Thursday April 17, 2008

Fulbright Future

Kristen Cheney, an assistant anthropology professor, will travel to Africa to learn from children orphaned by AIDS.

To Kristen Cheney, a University of Dayton assistant anthropology professor, children orphaned by AIDS should be seen and heard.

Cheney will use a Fulbright scholarship to spend time in the African nation of Uganda to learn how children feel about losing both parents to AIDS.

"Though much has been written on AIDS in Africa and how it's leaving a generation of orphans, there was little information from the children's point of view," Cheney said. "I think that any effective response has to take this into account, so I developed the research team to try to get a sense of how children really feel about their circumstances."

In previous trips to Uganda for other projects, Cheney found that orphans showed incredible resilience and inventiveness. Many children would approach her to see whether she could find sponsors to help them complete their educations.

"The Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work is very proud of Dr. Cheney's accomplishment," department Chair Fran Pestello said. "It also will allow her to continue her leadership on international issues on campus, particularly with regard to Africa, and the development of our anthropology curriculum."

When she returns, Cheney intends to write a second book about children in Africa. She hopes to produce meaningful research that will contribute to easing the situation of children in Africa who have lost their parents to AIDS.

Francis J. Conte, a UD law professor and former dean, also won a Fulbright. He will be a law lecturer at the University of Warsaw, Poland, Faculty of Law next school year.

"We're very proud of Dean Conte's recognition. He has long been involved in international legal education and researching comparative constitutional law," UD School of Law Dean Lisa Kloppenberg said. "He will be a stellar representative for UD and the School of Law in Poland."

Conte will be teaching subjects — European Union law, constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, international law and human rights — that he believes are critical to protecting freedom and the rule of law in an environment like Poland's.

"Poland is emerging from years of totalitarian rule following a vicious war, in which it lost almost 20 percent of its population, into the springtime of democracy and vibrant economic life now as part of the European Union," Conte said. "Young Poles I have met are incredibly enthusiastic about the new vitality of their society and its role in Europe and the world."

Conte thinks this experience will enable him to draw upon the insights of students, faculty and citizens in a society recently under Communism. He is interested to see how Poland is adapting to new political frameworks, rights and freedom under its own jurisdiction and that of the European Union.

The U.S. Department of State sponsors the Fulbright Program to provide funding for students, scholars, teachers and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research and university teaching. It is the flagship international educational program of the U.S. government and designed to increase mutual understanding between people in the United States and other countries.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or