Three researchers get Fulbrights to research, teach abroad

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UO architecture professor Michael Fifield will spend three months in Portugal working on housing issues as one of three faculty members recently chosen for Fulbright Program fellowships.

Also receiving Fulbright awards are ethnic studies professor Brian Klopotek and linguistics research associate Thomas Payne. Klopotek will travel to Mexico and Payne is going to the Philippines.

Fifield plans to document housing projects and help develop principles for more affordable, sustainable community design in both Portugal and the U.S. He will partner with the Technical University of Lisbon.

“Documenting and researching these projects in Portugal will assist not only in the work I will be doing with (the Technical University of Lisbon),” Fifield said, “but will be extremely useful in my work in the U.S. to develop design principles for meaningful housing design.”

According to Fifield, Oregon and Portugal share similar housing design needs. In Portugal, housing is a critical concern at the same time the country is experiencing a debt crisis, Fifield said. He believes land use policies can play a significant role in helping solve the housing dilemma.

“Urban growth boundaries in Oregon and elsewhere are one means to address issues of land becoming scarcer,” Fifield said. “However, there are questions of how to best utilize the land within the boundaries and especially how to address housing costs and availability.”

Fifield is the director of the Housing Specialization Program in UO’s Department of Architecture. He is hoping to translate Portuguese practices to projects in Eugene.

Klopotek will lecture at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, for six months beginning in January as part of his project “Indian on Both Sides: Indigeneity, Race and National Borders.”

Klopotek’s current research with the Choctaw-Apache tribe in western Louisiana is focused on understanding how Spanish and, later, Mexican and Anglo ideas of what makes a person Indian — or Mexican or White — overlap and conflict.

Because Klopotek applied for a Fulbright teaching fellowship as a U.S. Studies Chair, the award is considered a diplomatic position, designed to enhance relations between the U.S. and Mexico through cultural exchanges.

“I’ll be teaching Native American studies courses at the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, in the spring semester,” Klopotek said. “We are working to develop indigenous studies exchange programs with several institutions in other countries where our students and theirs would benefit from understanding indigeneity in another setting.”

Linguistics research associate Thomas Payne will be teaching in the Philippines for five months. Payne has been invited by a consortium of universities to participate in an ongoing program to develop Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education materials in 10 regional languages for primary and secondary schools.

“I will be conducting three “grammar workshops” for selected teachers who will be developing school grammars in their mother tongues” Payne said. “My work will feed into my ongoing research on Philippine and other Austronesian languages.”

Payne believes his work abroad will provide added material for future editions of two textbooks he uses in his UO courses: “Exploring Language Structure” and “Describing Morphosyntax.”

By Chakris Kussalanant, University Communications