Vice President, Frost Campus Manoj Patankar, Ph.D. has announced the formation of a Center for Intercultural Studies and named associate professor of history Michal Rozbicki as its first director.
In making the announcement Patankar described the Center "as having potential to attract top-quality scholars and students along with funding from external individuals, foundations, and corporate donors to enable Saint Louis University to provide leadership in answering important questions facing contemporary society."
The Center's mission is three-fold: to foster comprehensive, interpretive research on the interactions among distinct cultures; to provide training in intercultural leadership; and to promote the building of bridges among the various cultures of the world. Faculty affiliated with the center will conduct research on the nature of intercultural encounters, develop related courses and programs of study, and develop leadership for the promotion of intercultural collaboration with the ultimate goal to be the fostering of greater mutual understanding among peoples of different backgrounds.
The Center's goals embody two key objectives of Jesuit education for the twenty-first century: an interdisciplinary approach to issues and a greater focus on the international domain. In doing so, the Center will encourage collaborations across the three Saint Louis University campuses and will engage with national and international academic institutions and community groups to further its mission.
Through the Center, Saint Louis University can be a leader in developing pioneering research about interculturality and innovative courses. By building on existing strengths possible interdisciplinary research on culture may connect a wide spectrum of scholars from history, religion, languages, economic development, tools and technologies, agriculture, health, and medicine to DNA-based study of human migrations.
|Michal Rozbicki, Ph.D., will lead the new Center for Intercultural Studies. Photo courtesy Diana Carlin|
The implementation plan for the Center has as its goal to become an interdisciplinary degree-granting entity by 2016.
To lead the Center, Patankar selected Michal Rozbicki, associate professor and former chair of history. Rozbicki has been on the history faculty at Saint Louis University since 1992. A native of Poland, he attended Royal College in Colombo, Sri Lanka, the country's premier public high school, known for its ethnic and religious diversity. After returning to Poland and earning his M.A. in English philology from Warsaw University, Ph.D. in British history from Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland, and Ph.D. habil (European higher doctorate) in American history from Warsaw University. He joined the faculty of Warsaw University in 1976 and went on to become associate chair of the Institute of English Studies, and later director of the American Studies Center, devoted to promoting the study of the United States and to faculty exchanges with American universities (the only such institution in Eastern Europe at the time). After the Revolution of 1989, he co-founded the Polish Association for American Studies, and was elected its first President.
Rozbicki has authored or edited 10 books. He has been honored with a number of awards, including the American Council of Learned Societies fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University, the Merrill fellowship at Oxford University, the Kennedy Institute for North American Studies fellowship at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, and the Rockefeller Foundation's prestigious scholarly residency at its Bellagio Center in Italy. For his teaching, he has won the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award from the Graduate Student Association of Saint Louis University.
His current work focuses on the phenomenon of interculturality and its theoretical underpinnings, particularly on developing new, interdisciplinary methodologies. A forthcoming volume he co-edited (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011) is devoted to cross-cultural history and the domestication of otherness.He specializes in the history of early modern America. Much of his research has been devoted to examining how European cultural patterns changed in encounters with the New World, and how cultural instruments were used to legitimate power and authority. His most recent book, Culture and Liberty in the Age of the American Revolution (University of Virginia Press, 2011), is an attempt to resolve one of the oldest and most disputed dilemmas of American history: the contradiction implied by the Founders' cult of liberty and their commitment to inequality.
Rozbicki explained the importance of the new center by noting that, "Interculturality as a pioneering and fast-growing field of study is exciting because it carries a promise of creating new knowledge and changing our outlook upon the world. It is also highly innovative in that it attempts to transcend two longstanding barriers to research: the insularity of academic disciplines and the tendency to universalize the scholar's own cultural paradigms.
To better understand and interpret cultural difference, the Center will develop its own, distinctive research and degree programs by sponsoring interdisciplinary partnerships across the university, as well as national and international collaboration among scholars."