Divine Mbabazi, May 30, 2023
Conner earns faculty Fulbright to teach, develop curriculum in Jamaica
Nathan Conner, associate professor in agricultural leadership, education and communication at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, has been selected for a Fulbright Fellowship.
Conner will be teaching and conducting research at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education in Port Antonio, Portland, Jamaica, from August through June 2024.
The Fulbright program is administered by the U.S. government and offers scholars in more than 160 countries the opportunity to teach, study and conduct research. Below, Conner discusses his project and its potential impact on him, his host community, and the broader Nebraska community.
Can you tell us about the Fulbright Scholarship Program and the project you’ll be working on?
The Fulbright Program is aimed at enhancing relationships between the United States and other countries. For my project, I’ll be living in Port Antonio, Jamaica, with my family for about a year. During that time, I’ll teach college courses and help co-design a master’s degree in agricultural education to assist high school teachers in obtaining their master’s degrees. I’ll also conduct research studies on how adult learners go through the learning process, how adult learning theory is used in Extension in Jamaica, and the state of agricultural education at the high school level in Jamaica.
What inspired you to apply for the Fulbright Fellowship?
I’ve done some international work before in Jamaica and other countries. As a well-recognized program, Fulbright is respected by other countries that are interested in collaborating with Fulbright Scholars on various initiatives. Interest in collaborating was already present from the College of Agriculture, Science and Education, having worked with them before on some needs assessments in the Extension area. To further my research and impact, I applied and ultimately received the Fulbright scholarship.
How do you anticipate the fellowship will impact your career and agricultural education, both at Nebraska and generally?
I hope that my relationships with individuals and the college in Jamaica will lead to future opportunities. Potentially, we can bring some of our Nebraska student teachers to gain experience teaching agriculture in Jamaica, allowing them to practice teaching in another context and country with students who grew up in different ways than they did. I think this would be a valuable experience for both the Nebraska student teachers and the high school students and others they interact with in Jamaica.
Additionally, I hope this opportunity opens the door for other international opportunities for me and other faculty members in ALEC and CASNR to participate in various disciplines. This could mean further collaboration with Extension professionals and other ag education professionals in other countries to help further education there. Additionally, we could bring back the new knowledge we gain and input it into our agricultural teacher education program and our Extension education program to help build human capacity in Nebraska.
Your research focuses on adult education, science literacy, and globalization of agricultural education programs. Do you foresee any global trends or challenges in agricultural education that you think your fellowship project will address?
In the United States, it is often challenging to keep teachers in schools for various reasons. It can be difficult to attract people to jobs and careers that have to do with agriculture and agricultural education. By learning what the school basic education discipline is doing in Jamaica to entice people to become agriculture teachers and keep them in the classroom, I hope to bring some of that knowledge and implement it in Nebraska and the United States to encourage and retain teachers here.
What impact do you hope your Fulbright Fellowship project will have, both within your field of study and beyond?
One of the impacts that I hope my fellowship will have is the master’s degree I am co-collaborating with CASE to develop will have an impact in the country of Jamaica.
I’m also hoping to bring back that knowledge and skill and have it impact the ALEC department and Nebraska ag teachers. Whether that’s curriculum-development various teaching methods we are exposed to in Jamaica, which we can bring back and apply here, whether that’s creating study abroad opportunities for our undergraduates at UNL, whether that’s taking our student teachers and having them teach for a few weeks in Jamaica to help them gain the experience of teaching there while living there.
I also hope that the research I conduct has an impact on how we develop Extension Educators both in Jamaica and Nebraska. I am hoping that by working with them to help develop training programs for professional development to help better design extension programming for their clientele. We will learn new ways to do it here in Nebraska, and then we can help our Extension professionals try some new things that will take us further into the future.