April 02, 2015

Education faculty member wins Fulbright award

by Christi Mathis

Sosanya JonesCARBONDALE, Ill. -- Sosanya Jones, a member of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Education and Human Services faculty, is the recipient of a prestigious J. William Fulbright Scholar award. 

Jones, an assistant professor in qualitative research methods and higher education within the Department of Educational Administration and Higher Education, received the award for her research project, “Inclusionary Internationalization: A Multi-Case Study of Policies and Practices in Alberta’s Institutions of Higher Education.” 

As the 2015-2016 Visiting Research Chair in Education at the University of Alberta, Canada, Jones will be involved in research that could prove beneficial to Americans and Canadians alike, she said. 

She will work with Jennifer Kelly, professor and department chair of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta from January through April 2016. Her primary focus will be on research involving international education, but she will also have the opportunity to guest lecture.  

As more international students come to SIU and the United States to study, Jones said it becomes increasingly imperative to provide the best support and services for these students and to create an environment of reciprocal learning and communication. 

Canada and Great Britain have long been at the forefront of the internationalization movement, she said. Jones hopes her research will result in lessons that can benefit internationalization efforts in the U.S., as well as offering insight into possible gaps that may exist in Canadian institutions.   

“Essentially, I want to get a perspective from the policy makers and from the people implementing those policies,” she said. “I want to see what they are doing in practice, what works, and what doesn’t work. How do they support and serve their international students? How do they create an environment international students learn from the institution and where the faculty, staff and other students learn from the international students?” 

Jones will conduct a multi-case study of two Canadian institutions -- the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. She plans to identify key policies and practices designed to mitigate xenophobia (fear or hatred of foreigners/strangers), promote diversity and nurture positive intergroup interaction among diverse groups of students. She also wants to explore what role, if any, provincial legislation has on institutional policy and practice relative to cultivating inclusion.   

“I’m very excited about this opportunity. I’m looking forward to meeting new people who are doing similar work on diversity and inclusion and learning more about the culture of Alberta,” Jones said. 

She plans to share her research through conferences and in academic journals. 

Jones completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1996 and her master’s and educational specialist degrees in clinical mental health counseling in 2000, all from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. She earned her doctorate in higher and postsecondary education in 2013 from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York.  

She came to SIU as an assistant professor in qualitative research methods and higher education in 2013. She previously served as an adjunct professor at Teachers College at Columbia University in New York and in other teaching, research and administrative positions in academic. Her experience also includes state government posts including coordinator of student success programs for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and assistant director of outreach for GEAR UP/ACCESS Virginia. 

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 and awards grants annually to scholars and students from the United States and other countries. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State administers the program.