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ISSUE 115 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 3/22/2002

DeVries wins Fulbright Senior Specialist grant

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer


Friday, March 22, 2002

Professor of Sociology Raymond DeVries departed last Saturday for the Netherlands as one of the first participants in the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program.

DeVries recently received the grant from the Fulbright Commission, placing him at the University of Maastricht for six weeks.

DeVries will be giving lectures and conducting research to assess the University of Maastricht's Health and Society Program.

He will serve as a visiting consultant to assist in the organization of the program, reviewing grant proposals and observing decision-making processes.

DeVries, a faculty member since 1988, has been on leave from St. Olaf since June of 1999 due to a four year grant from the National Institute of Health.

Stationed at the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics, DeVries has used the grant to study the ethics of decision-making, primarily in regard to the use of human beings in research processes.

"Any time there’s a power differential involved or when human beings are asked to voluntarily participate in a study, there are certain risks and ethical issues that need to be addressed," DeVries said.

DeVries also received a research grant in 1994 to examine Dutch health care and maternity systems.

"The Dutch have very innovative and progressive policies concerning ethics and the organization of public health care," DeVries said. "Their attitudes about the health system and about trusting science differ greatly from our own, and I think that this country has a lot to learn from them."

The role of midwives in the Netherlands is much more prominent, and according to DeVries' study, contributes significantly to a radically different perception of the necessity of professional health care in the birthing process.

As a result, about one-third of all births in the Netherlands happen at home, with a notably lower percentage of cesarean sections, and a remarkably low infant mortality rate.

In addition to previous academic studies, DeVries also maintains a personal connection to the Netherlands.

"All four of my grandparents are Dutch," DeVries said, "and I’m now able to effectively communicate in the language, so for me, being in the Netherlands is sort of an exploration of my roots."

His youngest daughter currently resides in the Netherlands, and his wife will join him later.

The Fulbright Senior Specialist Program was established recently as a branch of the Fulbright Scholar Program, in response to a recognized need for exchange of dialogue and expertise between professionals, scholars and academic institutions.

Since the traditional Fulbright program generally awards grants on a semester or year long basis, creators of the new Senior Specialist Program sought to attract more applicants through a shorter, two to six week time commitment.

The Senior Specialist Program also differs from the traditional program in that qualified applicants are placed on a roster and then matched with institutions.

The institutions must first submit a request for a Fulbright Senior Specialist, and then the Fulbright Commission assigns scholars accordingly.





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