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Fulbright Research Project Scholarly Networks

Scholarly Networks: Social Networking for Academics

While chatting with Colleen Dube (Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission in Ireland) about the personal and professional impact of receiving a Fulbright scholar award, I realised that although “Fulbright changed my life” seemed to be a popular refrain, no one had ever really explored why that was so and in what specific ways Fulbright had changed their lives.

Following this discussion (and many more like it), I am pleased to announce a new research endeavour between higher education institutions in Ireland and the United States.

Using the Fulbright scholarly network as the context, this international research project examines the role of scholarly networks in lifelong professional learning for faculty in higher education.

Some of the questions that we hope to explore with this research include:

  • Why are some academic staff more engaged with building a research community and are better at building social networks, while others struggle on alone?
  • Can joining a scholarly network improve your academic profile and what are the downsides (if any)?
  • Where are these networks? How do you join one? Is there a secret handshake? How do you find out what’s the right place, right time, and who are the right people to be around?
  • Whose advice can you trust when everyone in the network is competing for the same resources and opportunities?
  • ¬†Why are some disciplines so much better at engaging their researchers and collaborating in these networks?
  • What effect does academic culture have on the success of a scholarly network?
  • Where do all the different disciplines meet? Or do they?
  • How does a scholarly network stay relevant and important to the individual members?

In the first stage of this study we examine the Fulbright award as an interdisciplinary ‘club’ or social network where knowledge is shared across academic fields and opportunities for research and publication with people from different disciplines are created. We ask whether the nature of the Fulbright award in particular creates opportunities for international relationships, both personal and professional, to be developed?

Stay tuned to this blog for updates (and outtakes!) on the how this research project develops.

By Anne Graham Cagney

Dr Anne Graham Cagney holds a PhD in Philosophy from Trinity College Dublin and was awarded the 2013 Fulbright Scholarship for her research into transformative learning environments for adult learners.