Douglas Kennedy was teaching high school in Minnetonka when he got a Fulbright to India in 2010. That experience changed everything, he says, putting him on a path to a doctorate in comparative and international development education (CIDE).
Kennedy has since traveled to South Africa, China, and back to India, connecting schools and students. He is digging deeper to gain a better understanding of culture and how it works—questions he first articulated while blogging during that first Fulbright in India.
“We are taught in social studies classes about our history and government, but that seems to be without the necessary reflective component,” he wrote. “Sometimes values are talked about, but how is this made to be personal—where does the culture meet the person?”
As a doctoral student, Kennedy contributes to CEHD’s Teacher Education Redesign Initiative (TERI) with his adviser, associate professor Michael Goh. He also is working with professor Deanne Magnusson to create an international resource center for the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development that aspires to continue the work of professor emeritus Josef Mestenhauser, an interdisciplinary thinker on culture and a champion of international education.
This year, Kennedy became one of the first three recipients of the Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization, along with students from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Carlson School of Management. At the awards ceremony in February, Kennedy met Mestenhauser—a recipient of several Fulbrights himself—in person.
It was a moving experience for Kennedy, who is always thinking of the next generation of students and citizens.
“I was told […] during my time here at the U that I think like a teacher,” he says. “When I think about intercultural capability and internationalism, it is in my classroom where it begins and ends. This is where it all comes together. Working with the heart, putting questions in the mind. Preparing teachers who ‘get’ culture, who ‘get’ students, who make classrooms that welcome everybody, who push their students to think beyond their borders.”
Learn more about Doug Kennedy and link to his digital story on the Mestenhauser Student Award for Excellence in Campus Internationalization website.
Story by Gayla Marty | Photos courtesy of Doug Kennedy (top) and Jennifer Schulz