URI professors win distinguished fellowships

KINGSTON, R.I. — June 9, 2000 — Two faculty members of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Arts and Sciences have won prestigious fellowships. The fellowships will provide support for two assistant professors to enhance their scholarship and teaching. The first will help a history professor write a book about the role religion had in forming a national identity from 1840 to 1940. The other fellowship will help a journalism professor enhance his teaching skills in writing and reporting. “We have a number of award-winning scholars and teachers in the humanities at the University of Rhode Island, and I am pleased to see these two promising young professors receive support and recognition through these prestigious fellowships. Our students will benefit considerably when these talented professors disseminate the results of their work in the courses they teach,” said Dr. Winifred Brownell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Protestantism played a critical role in defining national identity during this country’s early history and the religious right appears to have an influence on contemporary politics. During the 150-year or so gap between antebellum and present day, however, historians tend to relegate religion to the private or social sphere or dismiss it as a distraction to more political forms of activism. That all could change. Dr. Evelyn Sterne of Newport, URI assistant professor of history, argues that during those 100 years of mass immigration, religion was central to the debate over national identity. Funded by a $34,000 highly competitive postdoctoral fellowship from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at Yale University, Sterne will expand her dissertation on immigration, religion, class and politics in Providence, Rhode Island and show that Catholic politics in Providence intersected with a nationwide movement to reshape Americanism in a way that reflected Catholic values and priorities. This summer, Sterne will examine records of selected local parishes in Providence. She will also research records at the Catholic University archives in Washington, D. C. to place Providence in the context of the larger Catholic world. Sterne received a Faculty Development Grant from the URI Council for Research to pay for the trip to the nation’s capital. The URI historian will then devote the next 12 months to incorporating her research and reshaping her dissertation from a local study into a book with broad national implications. Anthony Fargo of Kingston, assistant professor of journalism, will get a chance to hone his skills when he attends the weeklong Freedom Forum Teaching Fellows Workshop for beginning journalism teachers in July at Indiana University. Fargo was one of 15 Fellows selected by the Freedom Forum. Fargo expects to earn his Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Florida, Gainesville this August. The Freedom Forum has funded a summer workshop at Indiana University for beginning teachers of writing and reporting for the last two decades. The content of the workshop offers a solid foundation in the fundamentals of effective teaching as well as responding to the needs and wants of new teachers. Fargo has just concluded his first year of teaching media writing, First Amendment issues, and literary journalism courses at URI. Fargo was a working journalist from 1980 to 1993. URI’s Journalism Department has a rich heritage with the Freedom Forum, having hosted, in 1998-99, a Freedom Forum Visiting Professional in Residence. -xxx- For Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116