Dr. Jeff Spanke, associate professor of English and director of the English education program at Ball State University, was selected as one of four recipients nationwide for the esteemed Fulbright Roving Scholar of American Studies Fellowship.

The Fulbright Program strives to promote dialogue and collaboration between nations through immersive cultural experiences. Recipients of the Fulbright Roving Scholar Fellowship have the unique opportunity to travel to Norway—the only country in the world offering this specific program. Dr. Spanke will spend 11 months in the Scandinavian country during the 2024-25 academic year.

"It's very overwhelming but incredibly exciting,” Dr. Spanke said. “This fellowship presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engage with students and educators in Norway and to share my passion for American culture."

As part of his fellowship, Dr. Spanke will develop and lead several workshops covering a wide range of topics related to his interests, such as media studies, folklore, urban legends, and education. He has even developed one talk about the Midwest in American culture—specifically on how Indiana is portrayed in TV shows and movies. These workshops aim to provide students and teachers with valuable insights into various aspects of American culture and society, encouraging cross-cultural understanding and empathy.

“The idea is, you go over, and you immerse yourself. You're not a tourist,” Dr. Spanke said. “We’re excited to explore the Norwegian public school system for our family; Fulbright really advocates for the use of public schools for families with kids and given that Norwegian schools are regarded as some of the strongest in the world, we look forward to learning more about how Norwegians view the role of public schools in a community.

“It’s all about stepping out of our comfort zone and learning,” he continued. “So, when we come back, we will spend the rest of our lives advocating not only for Fulbright but also for cultural exchanges as a whole, and we’ll advocate for students going abroad and study abroad opportunities.”