Story posted October 02, 2007
Laura Henry's 2007-08 sabbatical leave research on contemporary Russian civil protest and policymaking has earned national recognition and support.
Henry, an assistant professor of government, recently was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to travel to Russia to study ways in which Russian citizens are trying to influence social policies, particularly those concerning healthcare and housing.
"During the Soviet period Russia had a cradle-to-grave welfare state with housing and healthcare provided for all," notes Henry. "Only in the last five to seven years has the government been withdrawing from those two sectors, and now many policy decisions are being made at the presidential level, not within the parliament. This has triggered scattered protests against current health care and housing standards and access."
Support for faculty sabbaticals is an important goal of The Bowdoin Campaign, which ends in 2009. These professional opportunities are vital for our faculty, allowing them to engage with peers, advance their research and creativity, and inspire students.
Henry will conduct interviews with protesters and activists in St. Petersburg and Vladivostok and will collaborate with sociologists at the Center for Independent Sociological Research Institute in St. Petersburg.
"I feel very fortunate, very excited to have the Fulbright and a sabbatical leave to get back into the field in Russia," says Henry, whose previous research centered on Russian environmental policy. "I am particularly excited that this is an election year - both parliamentary and presidential - so I can bring that experience back for my students. I think it will be a great classroom energizer."
The Fulbright Program is America's flagship international educational exchange activity, with awards given to only 800 U.S. faculty and professionals annually. Awards are selected on the basis of academic achievement to those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership potential in their fields. Among U.S. Fulbright Scholar alumni are Renee Fleming, soprano, and James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.