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Holy Cross to Host Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence from Sri Lanka

September 4th, 2013 by 

The College of the Holy Cross has been selected to host Gamini Keerawella, senior professor of history at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence for the 2013-2014 academic year.  Keerawella, an expert in south Asian history and peace and conflict studies, earned his Ph. D in history from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.  While on campus, Keerawella will be teaching one course per semester, advancing his research in post-conflict reconciliation and peacemaking, and engaging in campus and community-wide activities.

Keerawella, who was awarded the Fulbright grant by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, is one of approximately 800 outstanding foreign faculty and professionals who will teach and/or research in the U.S. through the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program in 2013-2014.  The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program brings scholars and professionals from abroad to U.S. colleges and universities to significantly internationalize campuses and curricula.

“Having Professor Keerawella on campus will provide a unique international learning opportunity for both our students and the greater Worcester community,” says Margaret Freije, interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “We’re looking forward to the cultural breadth of knowledge and experience he will bring to our Asian studies program and as well as the entire College community.”

Keerawella says he was attracted to Holy Cross for its renowned liberal art education and its close proximity to other colleges with programs in Asian Studies.  “Holy Cross is well known in Sri Lanka,” he says.  “I plan to help internationalize Holy Cross by assisting to develop extensive contacts to shape longer-term strategies for the Asian studies program.” Keerawella has been appointed to the history department and will add his knowledge and understanding of security and diplomacy in South Asia to an already substantial Asian Studies program which covers the history and religions of the region.   He will offer courses that provide a general perspective on conflict, peace, and related issues in the context of Asia more broadly and Sri Lanka specifically, and that draw from his professional and personal expertise in the realm of post-conflict peace building both as an academic and as an advisor to the Sri Lankan government.

“Holy Cross has a strong representation in the areas of religion in south Asia through offered courses, but we do not have anyone whose work focuses on security and diplomacy in the region,” says Karen Turner, professor of history who teaches in the Asian studies program.  “Professor Keerawella’s work will attract students interested in Asia, south Asia, peace and conflict studies and modern south Asian history; and he will be an invaluable resource for our students who have or plan to study abroad in Sri Lanka.  He will play many roles at Holy Cross and beyond because his areas of expertise and his experience are very unique.”

In 1993-94, Keerawella was a Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence at the University of California at Berkeley. He has published two books, “From National Security to Human Security: Evolving Security Discourse in Sri Lanka” (Dhaka: Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), 2008) and “Japan in South Asia in the Context of New Discourse on Peace and Security” (Chiba: Institute of Developing Economies, 2005), and contributed to numerous publications and journals. Additionally, Keerawella has accepted invitations to deliver talks at venues ranging from the United Nations World Conference in 2001 in South Africa to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Switzerland, and consulted in discussions on matters relevant to his area of expertise, such as bilingualism and multiculturalism in Canada, and the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Keerawella will also be considered for cultural events and lectures outside of his classroom. There are a number of multicultural student organizations on campus sponsoring events for the College community who will benefit from the scope of experience Keerawella possesses. The Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture, which routinely offers lectures, panels and open discussions on topics related to peace and conflict, is another area to benefit from Keerawella’s expertise.

In past years, the College has hosted a number of international faculty. In 2006-07, the College hosted Carmen Wickramagamage, also from the University of Peradeniya, who had won a Fulbright Scholarship for research. A member of the English department at her home institution, Professor Wickramagamage was assigned to the College’s English department and offered a number of lectures both here and at other schools in the Intercollegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) Consortium. In 1996-97, the College brought to campus, also as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, I Nyoman Cerita, a Balinese dancer, choreographer, and musician. Cerita taught gamelan in the music department and dance in the theatre department. She also collaborated with faculty and students to develop and present a number of lectures, demonstrations, and performances in the New England region.

While on campus, Keerawella will also engage with a number of colleges in the area and be a cultural resource for the greater Worcester area.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.

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