Fulbright Specialist Program

Posted by jlubans on April 03, 2013

A few weeks ago I got the good news of my appointment to the Fulbright Specialist Roster.

Caption: Memorial plaque for Senator Fulbright in the lobby of the new University of Warsaw Library. Indicative of the senators prestige there is only one other plaque in the lobby: Pope John Paul II.
The Roster is used to match a specialist with an interested agency to work on a project of 2-6 weeks duration.
While the application process was near identical to that for my five month Fulbright, the proposed Specialist project and topic can be more open ended, so that an interested agency can review the roster and find someone with whom to develop a topic of mutual interest and expertise.
I took a more narrow approach and chose to focus on creating a short course on democratic organizations. Giving substance to the idea, I developed an 8-week prototype, the Democratic Workplace. This is the class I have been teaching at the University of Latvia in Riga since early February*. The last class is tomorrow, April 4. I have enjoyed the class and, with a few adjustments, believe it can be transferred easily to other venues.

The course covers teams and teamwork, group dynamics, self-management, theories of leadership and effective followership, communication and conflict resolution. It does not evangelize or preach democracy or that American organizational models are superior. Hardly! We have much to learn from other models and cultures.
I do try to show how and why libraries and other organizations that invite and encourage staff participation do better - are more productive and more innovative than organizations that limit staff involvement in decision-making.
I use a variety of teaching approaches: lecture, class discussion, readings, including literary selections and, of course, a few chapters from Leading from the Middle.

Also, I emphasize team-building activities, media, and a self-managed team project. Throughout, I use my on-the-job experience in leading change initiatives inl large academic libraries and directing self-managing teams to provide a pragmatic perspective on how to apply democratic ideals in the work place.

This blog has served in part as a diary for how I prepared for this class and what I am learning as I teach.

Now well see if others are interested in the ever-elusive and fascinating concept of self-governance. There is a cost-sharing requirement for the sponsor, unlike my five-month Fulbright, but I gather that requirement can be met with in-kind services; its not a deal-breaker.

* The prototype class is for credit and runs for 8-weeks or 32 contact hours. It has 16 students, half masters degree students and half librarian practitioners and meets once a week, for three hours.
My Course Objectives were that by the end of the class, the student should have well-formed answers to these questions: What is a democratic work place? What is a self-managing team? How do teams develop? Why do teams succeed? Why do teams fail? Who are democratic team leaders and what do they do? Who and what are democratic followers and what do they do? How can democratic teams and concepts exist in a bureaucracy?

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