Outstanding Faculty Achievements
The College of Arts and Sciences is a showcase for the inspired teaching and innovative faculty research that makes Fairfield University unique. While the list of this year’s faculty accomplishments is far too long to recite, three particularly outstanding professors were recently awarded a series of national grants and prestigious fellowships in recognition of their innovative work and research.
In December, history professor Dr. Silvia Marsans-Sakly was one of only 85 university professors nationwide to receive a fellowship from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) to pursue her advanced research in Middle Eastern history. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science, Marsans-Sakly joined the U.S. Peace Corps and served three years in Tunisia, igniting what was to become a lifelong passion for the people, cultures and history of North Africa. The NEH awarded her a $50,400 fellowship grant to support her latest project, A History of Democratic Protest and Memory in Tunisia, 1864–2011, a book-length study of the Tunisian revolt of 1864, and the impact that the memory of the revolt has had on subsequent Tunisian history. The book will offer new evidence and insight unearthed by Marsans-Sakly’s research that challenges historical accounts of the uprising and reveals hidden facts that allude to a sense of historical revisionism that has occurred over the decades. Her research will make a significant contribution to the emerging field of North African Studies and will appeal to multiple audiences including anthropologists and scholars of cultural studies.
Earlier in the year, professor of music Dr. Laura Nash was also awarded a $175,323 NEH grant to support an intensive, three-week academic institute at Fairfield that will engage 30 teachers from across the U.S. in an experiential study of African-American culture. The summer institute, From Harlem to Hip-hop: African-American History, Literature and Song, will offer social studies, music and secondary English teachers from across the U.S. an engaging study of the cultural and historical contexts that helped shape, and continue to impact, social and racial dynamics in the U.S. Through a series of scholarly lectures, seminar discussions and experiential visits to artistic and cultural sites in New York City, participants will examine the significant impact the black community’s cultural achievements and musical heritage have had on American life, from the Great Migration in 1910 to the creative explosion of today’s hip-hop generation.
“Because of its popular appeal and call for civil rights, hip-hop is a significant factor in our current cultural climate,” Dr. Nash said. “Any serious inquiry of American culture can not ignore this powerful form of expression, and given the current racial tensions in our county, this topic is both underrepresented and needed.”
One other CAS faculty member receiving national recognition for his work is economics professor Dr. William Vasquez Mazariegos, who was recently selected as one of only 500 international applicants in over 125 countries to receive an elite Fulbright Scholar Flex Award from the U.S. Department State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. As the main focus of his academic research, Dr. Vasquez Mazariegos will return to his home country of Guatemala to investigate factors impeding the extension and improvement of solid waste services, an issue that is causing major concerns due its considerable impact on the environment and population health. A recent project conducted by Dr. Vasquez Mazariegos and his colleagues, Dr. Anna-Maria Aksan and Dr. Jennifer Trudeau, revealed that the provision of solid waste collection services in Guatemala can reduce the prevalence of diarrhea among children by twenty-percent. Based on these findings, Vasquez Mazariegos is confident that appropriate management of solid waste can have a positive effect on the living standards of Guatemalans, and he intends to be part of the solution to this ongoing problem.
“This is a great opportunity to conduct a comprehensive research project with extensive policy implications, but it is also a huge responsibility because my findings will have the potential to impact the lives of many people in Guatemala,” Dr. Vasquez Mazariegos said.
For a comprehensive list of additional faculty accomplishments, click here.