By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney faculty member Doug Biggs is returning to a familiar place to teach as a Fulbright scholar.
Biggs, a professor and graduate program director in UNK’s Department of History, will travel to Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic, through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, which awarded him a grant to teach abroad in 2020-21.
“This is a great opportunity to raise the international profile of UNK while continuing to strengthen the outstanding relationship we have with our colleagues at Palacky University,” Biggs said. “Fulbright awards don’t come along very often, and I’m very humbled to be chosen as a recipient.”
The two institutions have a longstanding partnership through the Nebraska Semester Abroad program, which was created in 1992 to give more students an opportunity to visit and study in Europe. Offered each spring and fall, the study abroad trips are led by UNK professors, with Palacky University serving as the host institution.
Biggs was part of the study abroad trips in spring 2018 and fall 2019, and he’s also taken UNK students on Education First tours of Holocaust and D-Day sites. The “natural connection” with Palacky University inspired him to apply for the Fulbright Program, which supports educational and cultural exchange activities between the U.S. and more than 160 other countries worldwide.
“We really want to encourage more collaboration with our colleagues at Palacky University,” Biggs said.
The UNK professor will arrive in the Czech Republic in January and teach there through May. He’s offering a series of history courses for Czech and European students in his specialty of medieval England and medieval Western Europe.
Palacky University and its students will benefit from having a native English speaker in the history department, and Biggs plans to use the experience to improve his teaching style and pedagogy.
“One of the things I’m really looking forward to is seeing how they run their programs and the different ways they educate students,” he said. “I think it will be a really interesting way to learn more about teaching and generate new ideas I can bring back to UNK to instruct our own students.”
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program is designed to forge lasting relationships between institutions that help the U.S. and partner countries work toward common goals.
In this spirit, Biggs hopes his time in the Czech Republic opens the door for future opportunities that send UNK faculty to Europe and bring Palacky faculty to Kearney.
“Once you establish a pathway, it’s easier for other people to follow it,” he said.
Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has allowed more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and find solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize recipients and 37 individuals who have served as a head of state or government.