Feenstra awarded Fulbright Scholarship

Dr. Jennifer Feenstra, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern College, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to conduct research and teach in Romania during the 2011–12 academic year, according to the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Feenstra will research the effectiveness of the youth development work done by the New Horizons Foundation. She will also teach research methodology courses in a master’s degree program at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj while on sabbatical from Northwestern.

A social psychologist with research interests in volunteerism and the development of adolescents and young adults, Feenstra will live in Romania from October through June. She will assess the success of the program New Horizons has developed to empower Romanian youth and increase responsibility, teamwork and trust among them.

New Horizons Foundation’s executive director, Dana Bates, also serves as onsite program director for Northwestern’s Romania Semester. Feenstra, who participated in a Northwestern summer study abroad course in Romania in 2005, will work with Bates to develop a research program for a new curriculum the organization is implementing in their youth clubs. She will also analyze data previously collected by the Center for the Study of Democracy.

“I’m excited to work with New Horizons,” says Feenstra. “I was fascinated with their efforts to improve social capital—the trust in others and willingness to engage in cooperative action needed to successfully run a democratic society—which is low in post-communist Romania. I’m inspired by the kind of difference they’re making, and I look forward to getting to know the people of Romania and learning more about the culture.”

Feenstra, a co-director of Northwestern’s Franken Servant Leadership Institute, has published her research in the Journal of College Student DevelopmentTeaching of Psychology, and Journal of Psychology and Theology. She has also made presentations at meetings of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. A member of Northwestern’s faculty since 2003, she earned doctoral and master’s degrees in psychology at the University of New Hampshire. She received a bachelor’s degree from Calvin College.

Feenstra is one of more than 1,000 U.S. educators and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program next year.

The Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in over 155 countries and is funded primarily by an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, education and athletics, with 40 awarded the Nobel Prize and 75 winning Pulitzer Prizes.