Professor Anne Campbell Fulbright Scholarship in Kosovo, Research on LGBTQIA+ International Students

Middlebury Institute Professor Anne Campbell has won a Fulbright scholarship to Kosovo, part of a yearlong sabbatical packed with activities designed to fuel her future classroom teaching.

Professor Campbell, who teaches in the Institute’s MA in International Education Management program—and serves as program coordinator for the joint MPA/International Education Management program—recently began her service in the Fulbright Program in Pristina, Kosovo, where she will spend six months collaborating with government officials to develop a strategy to support the efforts of higher education institutions in research and innovation, while designing a comprehensive training and capacity-building initiative in the area of grants management. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, and Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 86 Pulitzer Prize recipients, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government. 

Concurrently and through the second half of her sabbatical year, Campbell will conduct research into the unique challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ international students, a project supported by the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation at Middlebury. Both projects will incorporate the work of student research assistants and feed into Campbell’s future classroom teaching.  

We had the opportunity to interview Professor Campbell recently about her sabbatical activities. 

Please describe the project you will be working on in Kosovo, and what drew you to it. 

Professor Campbell: I am on the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. My project is an appointment working with the Kosovo Ministry of Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI) in the Department of Higher Education. My work will focus on strengthening grants management processes, promoting innovation, and harmonizing policies of higher education. These efforts are intended to make Kosovo more attractive to international students and collaborators across Europe and beyond. 

I was drawn to apply for this Fulbright because I wanted an opportunity to deepen the connection between the topics I teach in my classes at MIIS and real-world experience, and it’s a rare opportunity to work in a country as young as Kosovo and with such a large percentage of university-aged students. In addition, I was excited to be in the Western Balkans given the many students I’ve had from Kosovo and surrounding countries, who I now have the chance to work alongside in this position. 

What led you to apply for a Fulbright and what has your experience been like so far? 

The Fulbright has just celebrated its 75th birthday and during that time has promoted international exchange of people and ideas for peace. This idea of connecting individuals to share ideas and find mutual areas of interest and shared commitment to improvement of their countries is a mission of which I am proud to be a part. My hope is that these new relationships will extend beyond my time physically in Pristina and develop into a long-lasting partnership. I am also hoping to develop opportunities in the Western Balkans for MIIS students. 

My experience so far has been wonderful! I’m meeting so many new people in Pristina—both Kosovans and those from the international community—and have had so many invitations to coffee, collaboration, and partnership. It’s a very welcoming community! So much of the social engagement is built around sitting in a café and talking about ideas over coffee—I feel at home already.

Please describe your project studying LBGTQIA+ international students. 

The project examines the experiences of a subgroup of individuals who pursue international education: international students in the U.S. who identify as LGBTQIA+. The umbrella term we’re using in the project is “queer international students.” In addition to the typical reasons that students seek international education, these students often are also looking to live in more liberal and welcoming environments, express their queer identities freely, or pursue their true identities without bringing shame to their families. In our work, we’ve found that universities can be very comforting places that welcome queer international students but can also provide conflict and stress for students if support is not available.  

Specifically, in this research, we are focusing on the experiences of queer international students after they graduate or complete their education. Do they go home, especially if they are from more repressive countries or countries where being LGBTQIA+ is criminalized? Do they go back into the closet? In a conversation with one student, they asked me, “Why would you go back to help a community that doesn’t want you?” Our goals are to better understand the challenges and difficult trajectories of this population and propose suggestions for international education programs and perhaps U.S. visa policy. ​Our project website provides more information at qismobilityproject.org.

How do sabbatical years for faculty enhance the student experience? 

The idea behind the sabbatical is to allow faculty to have an experience that they could not have while teaching, researching, and carrying out other campus obligations during a normal academic year. I am fortunate to have two sabbatical projects—both that are trying to improve international education and student mobility, albeit in different ways and through different approaches of policy reform and research. By having the time and space to complete these projects, I will be able to bring relevant examples into my international education and educational development courses and will have renewed my passion for the importance of quality education worldwide. Moreover, I have had the pleasure to work with three MIIS students (Quintessence Townsend MPA/MAIEM ’23, Jordyn Dezago MPA/MAIEM ’23, and Marissa Ruhno MAIEM ’23) on the queer international students research project and their hard work, intellectual contributions, and insightful questions have made me a better researcher, too. I am thankful to MIIS for its support during my sabbatical.

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