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UNC faculty named as Fulbright Scholars to conduct research abroad

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Pamela Lothspeich, an associate professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, will be traveling to India to research a form of theater known as Raslila. Photo Courtesy of Pamela Lothspeich.

UNC faculty members Pamela Lothspeich, Carissa Byrne Hessick, Anthony Hackney and Patrick Davison were chosen alongside 800 other U.S. citizens to be Fulbright Scholars for this academic year.  

Founded in 1946, the Fulbright Program funds cultural, educational and professional global exchange for U.S. citizens in other countries. The selected UNC professors will teach and conduct research fellowships abroad through the program.

Heather Ward, associate provost for global affairs, said while Fulbright offers over 400 awards to faculty and students, the U.S. scholar program is reserved only for faculty.

Ward said the program often connects recipients with research opportunities related to their careers and academic paths across the world. 

“Our faculty are incredibly globally engaged,” she said.

Lothspeich, associate professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, will be traveling to India as part of her Fulbright fellowship to research a form of theater known as Raslila. 

Lothspeich said her research is primarily focused on the role of Indian epics in film, theater and literature, and she hopes to better document and inform others on those art mediums. 

“I think it's important to bring to light,” Lothspeich said. “Millions of people participate and see these forms every year. They're very popular and revered and there hasn't been all that much academic work on them, relative to how important they are.”

Lothspeich said she finds it rewarding to teach at UNC because she likes to bring her own research into her classes. For her courses on traditional epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, she said she thinks her upcoming research in India will help her classes at UNC evolve.

“I always show my media, my photos and videos, and share experiences and memories of that performance,” Lothspeich said. “I think it makes it more interesting and enriching for the students.”

Hessick, a professor of law at UNC, said the cultural exchange piece of the Fulbright Program is not only important to her research but also for gaining a better understanding of how legal systems work around the world. 

She added that her research involves investigating the structure of criminal justice systems and sentencing practices. Her work mainly focuses on three major topics: the power of prosecutors, plea bargaining and criminal sentencing.

Hessick's studies will be part of a larger book project on criminal sentencing in common law countries such as the United States, Australia and Canada. 

“My preliminary research suggested that we do things somewhat similarly, but also somewhat differently,” she said. “My goal is to describe all of the systems and to talk a bit about what America could learn from our common law cousins.”

For her Fulbright fellowship, Hessick will do much of her work at the Australian National University in Canberra. She said she will also visit other states and territories to interview people on sentencing councils, which are advisory bodies that review sentencing practices and trends. 

Ward said there is an element of diplomacy within the Fulbright Program, designed to build goodwill between the United States and other partner countries to work through “borderless” challenges. 

“It's through collaboration and sharing ideas, cleansing research data within the confines of research security that generates innovation, new ideas, new discoveries and breakthroughs,” she said.

Hackney declined an interview with The Daily Tar Heel and Davison did not respond to The DTH's requests for comment.

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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