NC State has been ranked among the top universities producing Fulbright Scholars for the 2017-2018 year. These faculty members selected to travel abroad to teach or conduct research are fundamental to increased global engagement, collaboration, and partnerships at NC State.
Heidi Hobbs, director of the master of international studies program and associate professor of political science in the School of Public and International Affairs, traveled to Prague in the fall of 2017 to teach at the University of Economics, one of NC State’s global partner institutions, through the Fulbright Scholars program.
During her stay, Hobbs taught a course on Introduction to International Relations with a focus on increased interactions with the Czech students at the university. Additionally, she gave several lectures to undergraduate students and worked with graduate students and junior faculty on presenting research posters.
The Fulbright program gives participants an enhanced understanding of international higher education systems and provides the opportunity for an exchange of ideas. In 2016, Hobbs was a Fulbright Specialist at the University of Economics in Bratislava, Slovak Republic. During her time at both universities, she promoted an interactive classroom environment that would allow for greater critical thinking on the part of her students.
“The Fulbright concept is a critical way to get U.S. voices into countries that may not have thought about new ways of teaching,” Hobbs said. “I strongly recommend that people consider both the Fulbright Specialist and Fulbright Scholars opportunity, because they give you a tremendous perspective on the world that you can bring back to the classroom here at NC State.”
As a result of NC State’s active participation in the Fulbright program, the master of international studies program has had an uptick in enrollment in Fulbright students. It now hosts five Fulbright students from Niger, Kenya, Macedonia, Argentina, and Paraguay and has accepted five more Fulbright students for the upcoming year.
Prior to beginning her course at the University of Economics, Hobbs spent time at the NC State European Center in Prague supporting students participating in the Prague Connection, an opportunity for students admitted as part of the new Spring Connection program to start their academic career abroad, and is excited about the expanded vision for the center.
“As we now expand the mission of the European Center in Prague, it is essential that we use the center as a launching pad to relate to the existing universities in the area, not only in the Czech Republic,” she said. “The center can allow us to interact with universities in neighboring countries. That’s the strength of what we’re going to be able to do with the center; we can offer it as a hub for faculty and students who want to come and not only be in the Czech Republic, but also in those neighboring countries and beyond.”
As for future international opportunities on the horizon, Hobbs has plans to reinvigorate a study abroad program she previously led in Prague for summer 2019. The program, focused on diplomacy, will split time between Prague and Bratislava and will include faculty from Charles University in Prague and the University of Economics in Bratislava.