Alma College Welcomes First Visiting Fulbright Scholar
The first Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at Alma College will help
students gain a richer understanding of the Middle East, particularly
Islamic history, culture and society.
Dr. Yavuz Demir, professor of Turkish language and literature at Ondokuz Mayis University in Turkey, will spend the 2006-07 academic year as a visiting scholar at Alma.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Demir, who brings a variety of experiences and intellectual strengths to the college,” said John Ottenhoff, associate provost and chair and professor of the English department. “I hope his visit will open people's eyes to the opportunities that the Fulbright program presents — to students and faculty who wish to study, learn or teach overseas — and to our opportunities for broadening our world and globalizing our small campus.
“The Fulbright Foundation strongly hopes to influence the international
perspective of small liberal arts colleges, and I couldn't be happier
with the collaboration we've been able to shape with this grant,” he
As a citizen of Turkey, the only secular Islamic democracy, Demir will
offer important cultural insight in a period when intercultural
understanding is especially critical, said Ottenhoff.
“As the Fulbright Foundation recognizes in its initiative to support
scholars from Muslim-majority countries in the field of Islamic
history, culture and society, Americans need a much richer
understanding of the Middle East, and Professor Demir seems uniquely
qualified to help us attain such understanding,” said Ottenhoff.
In addition to classroom teaching, Demir will engage with honors students and student organizations and participate in a variety of campus and community activities.
“I am so happy to be at Alma,” said Demir.
During fall term, he is teaching a course on European literature, tying in his expertise in Turkish literature. During winter term, he will teach “The Heritage of Islam,” a course that explores the history of Islam, influence of Mohammed, the expansion and impact of Islam on East and West, and the practices and customs of Islam in light of Islam’s worldview, values and influence.
Among his lecture topics will be Sufism, a mystic tradition of Islam that has produced a large body of poetry; Mawlana Julaladdin Rumi, a 13th century mystic poet of Islam; and the historical culture and heritage of Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city.
Demir also will serve as a facilitator for a winter term collaboration with Marygrove College in Detroit. Two comparable courses will be taught simultaneously at each institution with discussions about diversity between the two classes taking place both face-to-face and electronically.
Western culture is not new to Demir. A former visiting scholar at Oxford University in Great Britain, Demir has a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester in Great Britain.
“I know about American culture, so moving here is not a big surprise to me,” he said. “I don’t see many differences between British and American culture, and that makes my life easier.”
He previously visited Alma College a year ago when his son, Ahmet Kursad Demir, enrolled at Alma as an international student. He will be a sophomore at Alma this fall.
“Ahmet had a perfect experience at Alma,” he said. “He loves everything here, including the weather. He is a tennis player at Alma. He even refused a tennis scholarship from another college to stay at Alma.”
Also accompanying Demir to Alma is his wife, Semra Demir.
Posted: Thu, August 10th, 2006 at 2:31PM