Fulbright Award: Stonehill Irish Scholar Bound for Czech Republic
April 03, 2010
Boston Irish Reporter
Irish Studies scholar Richard Finnegan has visited Ireland more times than he can count and most recently he spent nine days during spring break guiding 24 Stonehill students as they toured the country studying Irish history and literature.
Next year, however, he will switch the focus of his scholarship to the Czech Republic where he will spend a semester teaching at Masaryk University.
There he will teach and conduct research comparing the Irish and the Czech processes of political development.
Teaching at Stonehill since 1968, Finnegan will head to central Europe as a recipient of a Fulbright Distinguished Chair. Among the most prestigious appointments within the Fulbright Scholar Program, the Distinguished Chairs are highly competitive, with only 40 Chairs out of the 800 Fulbright awards given annually. Recipients must be eminent scholars with significant publication and teaching records.
Currently the Chair of Stonehill's Political Science Department, Finnegan is the first faculty member and alumnus in the College's history to receive this honor.
At Masaryk University, he will teach courses on American Foreign Policy and on European Politics, with a focus on Irish and Czech political development. He plans to contrast the experience of the two countries in their different comparative stages of growth.
"Ireland achieved autonomy from the United Kingdom in 1922, was partitioned then, joined the European Union in 1973 and experienced the Celtic Tiger in the 90s," he explains.
"The Czech Republic, a country in many ways similar to Ireland, has compressed the experience of the "Velvet Revolution" in 1989, the separation from Slovakia in 1993, and joining the EU in 2004 into a scant two decades. It is, in effect, at the stage of adaption to the European Union that Ireland was in 1978," he adds.
While in central Europe, Finnegan will also advise graduate students, give general lectures to the broader Masaryk University community, lecture at the invitation of other universities as well as advise on curricular matters.
"Richard Finnegan's scholarly achievement is simply staggering," said Katie Conboy, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Stonehill. "Moreover, his impact on students is both profound and sustained, and his service to Stonehill is legendary."
An international relations scholar and an authority on Irish Studies, Finnegan graduated from Stonehill in 1964. He has spent two sabbaticals in Ireland, one in Dublin as a Visiting Scholar at University College Dublin in 1976 and the other as the Irish American Cultural Institute Research Fellow at the Centre for Irish Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway in 2003.
The former Director of the College's Semester in Irish Studies, he co-founded, with Economic Professor James Wiles, the Archive of Irish Government Documents at Stonehill.
He has been a Visiting Professor of International Relations at Boston University's overseas graduate program in Germany and a visiting scholar at Harvard University, where he taught a course on Irish Politics from 2004 to 2006. From 2001 to 2005, he was a Senior Fulbright Specialist.
In 2006, Finnegan was part of a Group Fulbright Hays Award that sent eight Stonehill faculty members to China. He has also received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education (Title VIB), as well as six awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and two from the Whiting Foundation.
At Stonehill, he has long served as Chair of the Political Science Department and Director of the Irish Studies and International Studies Programs. He has also been the Director of the Honors Program and interim Dean of the Faculty.
The author or co-author of six books on Ireland, Finnegan's research interests include the development of democracy in Ireland in the twentieth century. On the occasion of Stonehill's 50th anniversary in 1998, he was awarded the Moreau Medal for Distinguished Contribution to the College during its first half century.
Finnegan is active in the Irish American community in Boston and, in 2009, the Irish Voice newspaper included him in its list of the Top 100 Irish American Educators.
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