(Posted July 31, 2019)

Sarah Rohrer '20

Sarah Rohrer '20

Huntingdon, Pa. – Dennis Plane, professor of politics and chair of the department of politics at Juniata College, recently been selected as a candidate for a Fulbright U.S. Scholars Grant to teach at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México in Mexico City. 

While teaching in Mexico, Plane will serve as a goodwill ambassador. “As such, my job is not to advocate nor apologize for the United States, but to help Mexican students better understand the United States,” he says. “In the process, I will better understand the challenges and opportunities confronting Mexico.” 

Upon his return, Plane will be able to use his fellowship experiences in the classroom at the College. 

“The Fulbright will make me a better teacher,” Plane says. “Given the centrality of Mexico to contemporary political discourse, I want to bring back to my students firsthand observations of how Mexican students view the world and the United States. Spurred by the ideas of U.S. exceptionalism, U.S. students can sometimes by myopic in their worldview; as a teacher, these firsthand experiences will help me broaden my students’ perspectives.”

Plane joined the College’s faculty in 2004, after earning a bachelor’s degree in politics from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., in 1993 and a doctoral degree in government from the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, in 2002. He has known about the Fulbright program for much of his life. When he was a child, his family spent a year in East Africa when his father received a Fulbright to teach at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Ever since, Plane has had an interest in applying for the fellowship himself. 

When the time came for Plane to apply, he sought and received advice and support from many partners at the College, including (but not limited to) Kati Csoman, the dean of international education; James Barlow, Charles A. Dana Professor of Politics and faculty marshal; and Henry Thurston-Griswold, professor of Spanish and chair of the world languages and cultures department. 

The Fulbright program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The program awards approximately 8,000 grants per year, assisting roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars. Since its establishment, around 370,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the Fulbright program. --Written by Taylor M. Smallwood ’19—

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.