Leading with a 'moral compass' — UNC professor wins Fulbright Scholarship

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Dr. Daniel M. Cobb is a professor in the American Studies department who was recently nominated as a recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship, giving him the ability to teach and research in Helsinki, Finland.

This is part of a series of profiles on professors doing interesting things across UNC’s campus.

Dan Cobb, coordinator for the American Indian and Indigenous Studies curriculum, will be able to teach international students in Helsinki, Finland, about Native American history after receiving the Fulbright Scholarship.

"It’s a research and teaching scholar position. And one of the most important things I’ll be doing there is actually my own research, but I’ll also be in the classroom," Cobb said. "In the classroom, I’ll be interacting with students not just from Finland but all over the world.”

Cobb said he wants to continue to promote the importance of Native American history in the grand scheme of history.

“I think the most important thing to me isn’t so much an event, but it is that, even as we understand the history of Native America as distinct, it is inseparable from the larger narratives of the U.S. and world history,” Cobb said. “Native Americans aren’t marginal or peripheral to the stories that we usually tell when we think of world history or U.S. history, but are in fact central actors to it."

Kathleen DuVal, an associate professor in the Department of American Studies, said she believes Cobb fully deserves the scholarship.

“I’m not surprised at all," she said. "He is a world leader in American Indian and indigenous studies. His work is the kind of work that the Fulbright is designed to honor and promote."

Another professor in the Department of American Studies, Malinda Lowery, said she has known Cobb for over a decade. She said she thinks he has played an important and helpful role in her professional life at UNC.

“Dan offers balance to our somewhat chaotic professional lives," she said. "He is a model teacher, and I am fortunate to have his best students in my classes. His moral compass is something I rely on to make good decisions about my roles here at UNC.”

Cobb said he is extremely excited to do the scholar position because he genuinely enjoys learning about different cultures.

“As an undergraduate, I have studied abroad in Kenya," Cobb said. "I’ve done ethnographic field work in the Bahamas. More recently, I’ve gone to Canada and then to Helsinki. Living and working and interacting with people in other countries is really important and eye-opening and reparatory." 

While Cobb is looking forward to his work, he said he is especially excited for the apartment that comes with the scholarship.

“You do it for the larger meaning of the work you’re engaged in, but one of the things that’s a huge perk in Helsinki is that they actually provide you with a furnished apartment, and that’s, from a practical point of view, cost-saving," Cobb said. "It also makes you feel like you’re exchanging one home for another as opposed to just finding some temporary dwelling.”

Cobb said he finds himself even more inspired to represent the country to international students and people in light of the current political atmosphere.

“I would be hard-pressed to find an era any more important and timely than the one we are in now to be representing the United States to the world through programs like this one," he said. "I’m excited for not just representing myself but our University and the United States to these students who are actually from all over the world.” 

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