Professor receives Fulbright Award

Mattiace uses award to teach in Chile next year

Shannan Mattiace, professor and department chair of political science, received a Fulbright Award. She plans to use the award to teach in Chile for five months starting in February 2019.

Lauren Trimber

Mattiace said she received a Fulbright once before when she taught in Mexico as a graduate student from 1995 to 1996.

“Some of the best friends that I still have in [academia] I made during that year,” Mattiace said.

After her experience in Mexico, Mattiace said she wanted to win a Fulbright as a professor.

“A couple of years ago, I felt like the time had come, that I was ready to really begin seriously considering the Fulbright application,” Mattiace said. “It takes a lot of time, so you have to really set aside time and headspace to do a very good application. Because it’s not worthwhile applying if you don’t have time and space and motivation. Because it’s very time consuming.”

Mattiace said she wanted to use the Fulbright to travel to Latin America. She considered using her award in Mexico again but realized it would be difficult for her to complete her fieldwork in that country.

I’ve always wanted to go back [to Chile].

— Shannan Mattiace, Department chair of Political Science

“I just decided that I wanted to do something a little bit different from my work in Mexico,” Mattiace said. “I should also confess that I looked very seriously at the Mexican Fulbright awards. The work I do in Mexico has to do with drug trafficking, and I would not be allowed to do my work under a Fulbright in Mexico because the U.S. State Department travel advisories apply to Fulbright scholars.”

Because of these concerns, Mattiace eventually decided to apply for a Fulbright in Chile.

“I had been a U.S. State Department student intern when I was just graduating from college in 1990, in Chile, I spent three months there,” Mattiace said. “I’ve always wanted to go back.”

Mattiace said the biggest difference between her new Fulbright and the one she obtained in graduate school was the amount of teaching required.

The first thing I would say is that this is an opportunity.

— Shannon Mattiace, Department chair of Political Science

“With what they call the Fulbright Core program for professors, virtually everyone is doing some teaching,” Mattiace said.

Mattiace had to think about what course she wanted to teach in Chile.

At Allegheny, Mattiace teaches courses about Latin America, specifically Mexico and the Caribbean. She felt these sorts of courses would not be quite as compelling for Latin American students.

“They don’t need me to teach them about Chile, right?” Mattiace said. “I am best suited to teach you all, American students, about Chile, or Latin America, not the other way around.”

Eventually, Mattiace realized a course on immigration might be interesting.

“The Chilean state is currently receiving a lot of immigrants, but it’s a recent phenomenon,” Mattiace said. “They do not have classes about immigration, and very few people work on that right now.”

Mattiace believes there are parallels between the American and Chilean situations in regards to immigration.

“To Chilean students, Chile is a very wealthy country in Latin America, so they are experiencing a lot of what the U.S. experienced, I would say in the 1970s,” Mattiace said. “Chile right now is similarly poised as the United States [was] in the 1970s.”

In addition to teaching Chilean students about America, Mattiace plans to use her Fulbright award to teach American students about Chile.

“At Allegheny, our Latin American studies is heavily focused on Mexico and the Caribbean,” Mattiace said. “We don’t have anyone who specializes on the Southern Cone [the countries of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay].”

Mattiace said while she normally tries to discuss the Southern Cone in her classes, she feels the Fulbright will give her an opportunity to enhance her teaching.

.Mattiace said she was overwhelmed by the positive reaction she has received from students and faculty.

“I feel actually very humbled by it,” Mattiace said. “I didn’t think that, I guess I just didn’t expect it. It was really beautiful.”

Patrick Jackson, director of fellowship advising at Allegheny, said the Fulbright was a program funded by the U.S. State Department for the purposes of cultural exchange.

“The Fulbright is a program designed to get interesting and intelligent Americans out into the world, sort of to be interesting and intelligent,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the application, which is available every year from March to August, asked applicants to write a five to seven page description of their project idea.

“So you pick a country, there’s teaching awards, there’s teaching and research awards, and there’s research awards,” Jackson said. “You pick the country where you want to go,  and then you describe to Fulbright why you want to go to that country, what you plan to do there, how you’re going to adapt,  … what you’re going to bring back to the United States.”

Robert G. Seddig Chair and Professor of Political Science Brian Harward said the department was excited for Mattiace.

“The first thing I would say is this is an opportunity,” Harward said. “This is the premier fellowship in the world. Any opportunity we have for a faculty member from Allegheny College to take advantage of that fellowship, we ought to make it possible.”

Harward said the department would be able to cover Mattiace’s Allegheny responsibilities while she was in Chile.

“I mean we’ll miss her while she’s gone, but it’s pretty standard practice to have faculty gone from time to time for sabbatical leaves and other things,” Harward said. “It’s not out of the ordinary for that to happen.”

Harward said the department was looking forward to Mattiace being able to bring back valuable insights to Allegheny students after she returns to campus.

“It’s an investment,” Harward said. “When she comes back, she’s going to be able to offer things to this community that we haven’t been able to offer in the past. I mean, she’s going to have a really interesting perspective to share with us as a result of this experience, so we’ll be a better department for it.”