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Wittenberg Professor Awarded Fulbright Senior Scholar Award To Conduct Research In Estonia

May 23, 2011  
 Filed in Community, Research

Springfield, Ohio – In an effort to extend his groundbreaking research on the growing engagement of the Russian Orthodox Church in European affairs and related issues of religion and churches in European-Russian Federation relations, Wittenberg University Professor of Sociology Jerry Pankhurst will teach in the Republic of Estonia in the spring of 2012 after receiving a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award.

“It is a great opportunity for me, personally,” Pankhurst said. “Thanks to the Fulbright, I will have access to public records and persons directly involved in church and political affairs in Europe and Russia who will provide information for my research.”

Pankhurst joins an impressive list of Wittenberg faculty members who have won prestigious Fulbright Awards, dating back to 1951. In addition to Pankhurst’s award to research and teach in Estonia, Wittenberg’s Department of Sociology faculty members have previously received Fulbright Awards to study and/or teach in Japan, Bosnia and Austria.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, the world’s leading news publication in academia, last year named Wittenberg one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Scholars among bachelor’s institutions. In 2010 alone, three Wittenberg faculty members and two recent alums received awards from the Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States government.

Pankhurst has not yet determined his teaching assignments while in Estonia, which is located in the Baltic region of northern Europe, bordered by the Gulf of Finland, the Baltic Sea, Latvia and the Russian Federation. Courses he regularly teaches at Wittenberg, “Sociology of the Family” and “Sociology of Religion,” are among those Pankhurst is considering. He will be assigned to teach in one of two universities to be determined later this summer.

“Estonia is an affluent country with high Internet access and comfort of living,” Pankhurst said. “It is the most Western-oriented of the former Soviet Republics. Although Estonian is the official language, many people also speak English. Although the nation is predominately Protestant, it includes a strong Russian Orthodox minority, which holds particular interest to me.”

He plans to use Russian language for much of his research with this minority group and with Russian Church documents.

A noted scholar of the societies of Russia and the Post-Soviet region, as well as sociology of religion and political sociology, Pankhurst has also developed a teaching and research specialization on Islam and Islamic societies, with special interest in Egypt.

Co-editor of two books of original articles on Soviet society, Contemporary Soviet Society (1980) and Understanding Soviet Society (1988) and a book titled Family, Religion and Social Change in Diverse Societies (2000), Pankhurst has contributed numerous articles to scholarly collections and professional journals, including Sociological Inquiry, Religion in Communist Lands, Journal of Family Issues, and Journal of Church and State. Pankhurst has also served as peer reviewer for professional journals, including the American Journal of Sociology, Journal of Family Issues, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, Review of Religious Research, and Soviet and Post-Soviet Review.

Research grants from the International Research and Exchanges Board, the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University, The Ohio State University, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Smithsonian Institution’s Wilson Center for International Scholars, and Wittenberg University have supported Pankhurst’s previous research at Leningrad and Moscow State Universities; the University of Sofia, Bulgaria; Keston Institute in the United Kingdom; American University of Cairo (Egypt); and the Library of Congress.

Pankhurst received his B.A. degree from Justin Morrill College of Michigan State University and was awarded his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan. Pankhurst also completed additional graduate studies at Leningrad State University and Harvard University. He joined the Wittenberg faculty in 1984.

Written By: Phyllis Eberts


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