The Cognard-Blacks to Teach in Slovenia Under Fulbright

Associate Professor of English Jennifer Cognard-Black, Liberal Arts Associate and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Sociology Andrew Cognard-Black, and their daughter, Kate, will spend the Spring of 2012 teaching in Ljubljana, Slovenia, as Fulbright Scholars after their first application to the program.

Andrew Cognard-Black will teach within the Social Sciences Department and Jennifer Cognard-Black will be teaching late 20th century American literature and creative writing within the English Department at Ljubljana University.

According to Andrew Cognard-Black, “the idea [of the Fulbright] program is to get academics and intellectuals from the United States to go out across the globe to both represent the United States and enrich the diplomatic ties with countries across the globe, and so part of their interest and part of what they’re really promoting is meeting people [and] making connections.”

Jennifer Cognard-Black said, “the Fulbright program brings American modes of teaching abroad. The way I teach American literature is as important as the American literature itself.” According to her, Slovenian classes are lecture based, as opposed to the American hybrid lecture-discussion.

One of the main goals of the Fulbright scholarship will be the exchange of pedagogical methodologies among their Slovenian colleagues. Jennifer Cognard-Black and Andrew Cognard-Black will integrate American seminar methodology with the lecture methodology that characterizes many Slovenian courses.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland has a long history of academic cooperation with Slovenia; Professor Julia Bates and Professor Robin Bates taught courses in composition and creative writing in Slovenia for two years in the late 1980s. Since then, 12 Slovenian students have visited St. Mary’s as a part of an exchange program with Ljubljana University.

According to Julia Bates, “poets are the national heroes of Slovenia rather than military generals, and everyone likes to think of themselves as potential poets . . . [Dr. Bates] and I did a summer workshop and they were all hungry poets.” Jennifer Cognard-Black said, “Julia and Robin host a Slovenian student virtually every semester and this semester they are hosting two.”

The connection between Ljubljana University and St. Mary’s was crucial in the professors’ applications to teach in Slovenia. According to Jennifer Cognard-Black, “I have to credit Robin Bates. He requested letters of invites from colleagues.” The Fulbright heavily weighs the desires of the host community.

The Cognard-Black’s also valued the connection in their choice to apply. “[The Bate’s] youngest son often spoke of his powerful experiences [in Slovenia] and I wanted to give Kathrine the same experiences,” said Jennifer Cognard-Black.

Jennifer Cognard-Black also hopes to learn about Slovenian women-poets and Slovenian cuisine-literature and incorporate that knowledge in her courses back at St. Mary’s. Their daughter Kate is looking forward to Slovenia’s Bicycle Exchanges, Miliko “Milk Mats”, and excellent hiking trails.

Dr. Ben Click, chair of St. Mary’s English Department said of the awards, “For someone like Jennifer Cognard-Black to receive the Fulbright represents the best intentions of the Fulbright. We at St. Mary’s College recognize how valuable she is; the students here get the benefit of her breath of disciplinary knowledge and amazing teaching skills. But now the people of Slovenia are going to benefit from the same qualities she brings to our campus.”

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