Global connections: Richmond named Fulbright Specialist

June 5, 2018

Professor Gail Richmond is taking her expertise and research to Israel in summer 2018 as part of her new designation as a Fulbright Specialist.

Gail Richmond headshot

Richmond traveled overseas in May to connect with, collaborate with and learn from educational and community leaders. She is primarily based at Technion — Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, where she is exploring ways to make educational programs more effective through community- and university-based experiences through research-driven program design. In addition, Richmond is giving a number of scholarly talks and working with graduate students to help them learn more about research design, academic writing and the process of preparing and submitting work to scholarly journals.

“This is a really special opportunity to share my expertise and experiences, to learn a lot from others committed to meaningful and accessible science education and to bring Michigan State University with me to another part of the world,” said Richmond, a professor of teacher education. Her research focuses on science education, which is a primary focus during her time as a Fulbright Specialist. “I will benefit so much from this experience. It will be life-changing.”

In her role in the Fulbright Specialist Program, Richmond serves as an expert on curriculum, faculty development, planning and more in this global exchange program connecting academic institutions.

During the faculty and graduate student workshops, Richmond focuses on science curriculum, graduate practicum and peace education. She is also be giving scholarly talks at several other universities, including the Weizmann Institute, Bar-Ilan University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Additionally, she is visiting Arab and Bedouin communities to learn more about the work several of her Israeli colleagues are doing and peace education efforts undertaken by leaders in several communities across the country.

In an effort to identify common ground for more powerful approaches to teaching and learning, Richmond is conducting research on peace efforts the country is using to connect people of different backgrounds to find commonality and explore how related efforts might be enacted at MSU and beyond.

The Global Community

“I will think about how to bring people together around issues of importance,” Richmond continued. She hopes the experience will create a bridge between the countries, connecting students and research projects. “How might we do this on a larger scale? How should we be considering these issues as imperatives for social justice? Are there ways to use technology to enhance and embrace these issues?”

As an example, Richmond mentioned the topic of water: Those who reside in Michigan, surrounded by the Great Lakes, have a vastly different relationship with this critical resource to those in Israel, which is situated in a desert and which has developed technologies to manage this scarce resource in powerful—though not necessarily equitable—ways. What can we learn from these different environments and their uses? What kinds of questions, conversations and problem-solving work should be central to addressing the issue productively? What might we learn that could find its way into the science curriculum in the U.S. that would have the effect of helping students more deeply understand the scientific and human dimensions of such issues and support them in developing productive ways of addressing them?

Richmond hopes that through this work as a Fulbright Specialist she can find ways to continue supporting individuals in the teaching and learning of meaningful and powerful science. This trip to Israel—her second, following a 2017 trip co-sponsored by the CREATE for STEM Institute that also involved scholarly talks at both Weizmann and Technion Institutes—will be the first of several opportunities to explore the global learning community across her three-year appointment.

“I will learn so much, and I hope to be a resource to people at MSU who would like to visit Israel, and vice versa,” Richmond added.

Further research insight

Richmond is a co-editor for the Journal of Teacher Education, currently being helmed by a team of scholars at MSU. She is also president of NARST, a worldwide organization for improving science teaching and learning through research.