Short-Term Exchanges Grow

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

A short-term faculty exchange established recently between the Irish Studies Program and two Irish universities is fast becoming the new model for such arrangements, according to BC administrators.

Instead of semester- or year-long visits, faculty stay for a brief period - usually a week - and offer classroom and public lectures. Administrators say that, even with a relatively short duration, these exchanges provide opportunities to share interests and form ties between institutions.

"Going to a university in Europe, Asia or elsewhere for a week can be tremendously valuable for the faculty members, and for the institutions they represent," said Marian St. Onge, director of the Center for International Programs, which has helped coordinate many of the exchanges. "Faculty have been able to get a fresh perspective in their areas of scholarship. It's also a chance to build on previous relationships, or start new ones; what might be a week-long visit this year could be something more elaborate next year."

This spring, Boston College is hosting scholars from the National University of Ireland-University College Galway and Queen's University of Belfast. Donncha O'Connell, a law lecturer from NUI-UCG, made two presentations last month. Queen's University historian Peter Jupp will make campus appearances later this month, and NUI-UCG Professor of English Kevin Barry will give lectures in April.

Meanwhile, Irish Studies Co-director Kevin O'Neill and Associate Director Robert Savage Jr. will travel later this semester to, respectively, Queen's University and NUI-UCG for one-week visits; Assoc. Prof. Philip O'Leary (English), a member of the Irish Studies faculty, went to NUI-UCG last year.

According to St. Onge, the University has established some 40 partnerships with colleges and universities in such countries as Australia, China, India, the Netherlands and Tanzania. Over the past five years, she said, an average of about 30 BC faculty members have participated in exchanges through these partnerships.

"Some of these exchanges are the more familiar, semester-long type," St. Onge said. "But we're definitely seeing an increase in the short-term exchanges. And we're trying to establish more of these partnerships; if a faculty member has a place in mind, we can see if it's possible to work something out."

BC faculty who have gone on exchanges value them highly, such as Assoc. Prof. Rena Lamparska (Romance Languages), who spent a week in 1997 at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, where she lectured in Italian classes.

"For me, personally and professionally, it was wonderful to be able to go there," said Lamparska. "In a profession such as this, you cannot be confined to working in the library or classroom. You have to go to a place like Jagiellonian, meet the people there and exchange ideas."

Faculty also can use the time abroad to pursue their research and writing interests. Lamparska was invited to submit a paper to Jagiellonian, while Savage plans to present some of his material on former Irish prime minister Sean Lemass, the subject of his forthcoming book, during his visit.

If BC faculty benefit from the short-term exchanges, they say BC gains from having their foreign counterparts on campus. Several months after Lamparska's visit, the University hosted eminent Jagiellonian linguist Stanislaw Widlak, who shared his expertise and works with Romance Languages faculty and students.

Savage points out that O'Connell's lectures drew not only faculty and students from Irish Studies, but the Law School as well.

"There's such a great opportunity for cross-fertilization, not only between institutions, but between disciplines," he said.

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