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Baber To Enjoy Third Fulbright

Published: April 17, 2017

Frank Baber of CSULB’s Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration recently was recognized with his third Fulbright award.

The member of the university since 2001 who currently teaches online classes Organization Theory, Urban Environmental Governance and Directed Research, will be the Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Public International Law at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) of Human Rights and the Faculty of Law at Sweden’s Lund University for the entire 2017/18 academic year.

The institute is named for the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jewish refugees and other at-risk persons in Hungary during World War II. Lund University was established in 1666. It is one of Northern Europe’s oldest, largest and most prestigious institutions of higher education and ranks among the world’s top 100 universities. Baber’s 2017-18 Fellowship runs for nine months.

Founded by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, the Fulbright Program provides competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists. Under the Fulbright Program, competitively selected U.S. citizens may become eligible for scholarships to study, conduct research or exercise their talents abroad.

Baber feels his new Fulbright comes, in part, because of his 2009 book Global Democracy and Sustainable Jurisprudence and its 2015 sequel Consensus and Global Environmental Governance.

“Both books are the result of Fulbright-related research and both laid the conceptual foundation for the proposal that I submitted for the Lund Chair competition,” he said.

In his Fulbright, Baber will pursue primary legal research on global environmental rights and on developing instructional materials for environmental rights advocacy in diverse legal cultures.

“I will also be working to develop a strategic partnership between the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and the Earth System Governance Project on whose lead faculty group I have served for many years,” he continued. “I understand that I will also be invited to teach a five-week short-course on a topic of my choosing. It is likely to track my proposal’s general theme of global environmental rights—perhaps concentrating in particular on the problem of environmental refugees.”

Baber points to “dumb luck” as one reason for his third Fulbright. “But the more important reason I was recognized is that I overcame the inertia and doubt that keeps a lot of people from even applying for a Fulbright,” he said. “In large part, I was able to do that because for many years I have enjoyed the unwavering support of my department chair, Dave Powell, in pursuing a wide variety of research opportunities. And one success often leads to others.

“Moreover, the advent of online teaching has made it possible for me to be elsewhere for significant periods of time and still satisfy my obligations to my departmental colleagues and to our students,” he added. “In fact, during my last Fulbright, my students didn’t even know that I was out of the country. I’m hoping that my success, and this article, will encourage others to take the plunge and apply for a Fulbright. I think it’s especially important for assistant professors to look at the options that may be available to them, in spite of the fact that they aren’t yet sabbatical-eligible. There is an increasing number of early career Fulbrights that they could compete for very effectively. And one thing I can virtually guarantee—a Fulbright enhances your career, so you might as well get one early so that you have more time to enjoy the benefit.”

Frank Baber
Frank Baber

Baber will undertake a different kind of Fulbright on his third try.

“My first, the Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Environmental Policy at the Politecnico di Torino, was in a faculty of city and regional planning – a much closer fit to one of the classes that I teach here,” he said. “The second, the Fulbright Visiting Professorship of Political Science at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, allowed me to teach a much broader class on globalization and the environment that tracked my evolving research interests.“

Baber received his B.A. from CSULB (class of ’75) and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his JD from the University of San Diego’s School of Law and admitted to the practice of law in California.

Baber expects fringe benefits with his new Fulbright.

“For example, my class on urban environmental governance is a direct result of my Fulbright experiences,” he explained. “While in Italy, I managed to visit a large number of ancient sites. The realization that Imperial Rome had situationally appropriate (in fact, elegant) solutions to many environmental challenges is why my students learn about how problems like traffic flow, refuse disposal and the provision of water have been handled throughout human history. In addition, the broadly cross-cultural and comparative quality of that same class is in part a result of my experiences with my students at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. My 36 students there came from 19 different countries. It is really hard to put a price on that kind of teaching experience.”

Baber knows what he wants to take with him at the new Fulbright’s conclusion: “As before–fond memories of my students and my next big idea.”