March 21, 2017
Dr. Laurie Johnston Awarded Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant to Research and Teach in Belgium

Professor Johnston to study the integration of Muslim students in Catholic educational institutions

Professor Johnston to study the integration of Muslim students in Catholic educational institutions

Emmanuel College Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies Laurie Johnston, Ph.D. has received a Fulbright grant to teach and research at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. During the spring semester of 2018, Johnston will study the relationship between Catholic educational institutions and Muslim students in Belgium. She will also teach a graduate level course on ethics and international relations. 

The focus of Johnston's research grew out of work she is currently engaged in while on sabbatical from Emmanuel. "I became interested in this topic from reading about European institutions and their relations to Islam," she says. According to Johnston, "the integration of Muslims is a challenging and fraught topic for European countries," and it has had a profound impact on some Catholic schools. For example, she says that in France "some Catholic schools have predominantly Muslim student populations because they allow students to wear the veil, whereas secular schools do not."  

For Catholic institutions, she says, working with large Muslim populations presents "both challenges and opportunities." Catholic religious doctrine, she explains, "says that we greatly respect and esteem the faith of Muslims, and we worship the same god." Still, she asks "how can our Catholic institutions fully live up to our theological principles about Islam, and what would it mean for a Catholic institution to help nurture the spirituality of a Muslim?"

Johnston will explore these questions and also investigate if Catholic institutions in Europe can serve as "a kind of mediating presence between the hardline secularists and religiously observant Muslims." She will also look to see if the European experience offers any lessons for Catholics in the United States, a place where anti-Islamic rhetoric has been on the rise.

Although this is Johnston's first Fulbright award, she has been involved with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for several years. Johnston serves as Director of Fellowships and Scholarships, and she has been instrumental in helping Emmanuel students apply for and win Fulbright scholarships and other awards. Over her past five years as Director, Emmanuel has had a Fulbright U.S. Student Program winner every year. In addition, Emmanuel produced two Fulbright U.S. Scholars in 2015-2016 - more than any other bachelor's institution in New England. For these accomplishments, the Fulbright Program named Emmanuel a "Fulbright U.S. Scholar Top Producer" for 2015-2016.

"Professor Johnston has done an extraordinary job spearheading our Fulbright efforts with students," said Emmanuel's Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean, William C. Leonard, Ph.D. "Her own Fulbright award is well-deserved and a testament to the groundbreaking nature of her research and scholarship."

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to solve global challenges. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Dr. Laurie Johnston

Explore Emmanuel

Nick Eline '23: Perseverance in a Pandemic

Nick grew up in a family of medical professionals—his mother and grandmother are both nurses and his father is a paramedic. “I’ve always been surrounded with medical jargon and stories of health incidents, crises, and the rewarding benefits of providing care,” he said.

Learn More
Nadel Henville '22: Creating Community Takes Center Stage

For Nadel, the stage is her “second home,” and the community she’s found within Emmanuel’s Theater program, a second family. While she originally thought she would pursue college theater as a hobby, she soon realized the work would define her student experience and provide a foundation for life beyond Emmanuel.

Learn More
Learn More
Gianna Kittle '20: Advocating for Justice

Prior to coming to Emmanuel, Gianna had never heard of the field of sociology, but was very familiar and passionate about issues of crime and justice. Her time at Emmanuel helped her to not only put a name—but also, a purpose—to that passion.

Learn More
Research Spotlight: Searching for an Evolution Solution

Propelled by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, students and faculty in the Mathematics Department are studying the rate of evolution in spatially structured populations using evolutionary graph theory, which may inform the estimation of important events in our evolutionary past, such as when humans split from our closest primate relatives.

Learn More
Learn More
Research Spotlight: Powerful Partnerships

In collaboration with Emmanuel graduate, Kierstin Giunco ’17, Associated Professor of Education Christine Leighton and current student Kayla Balthazar '20 are working with local elementary students to deepen reading engagement and comprehension.

Learn More
Research Spotlight: Economics Education on a Global Scale

As her research in economics education has focused on innovation in the classroom and finding ways to help students apply economic theories to real-world situations, students are vital in every aspect to Associate Professor of Economics Rebecca Moryl’s work.

Learn More
Eileen Milien '22: A Career-Affirming CURE

When choosing a college, Eileen knew two things for sure—that she would be able to get to know her professors and peers and that she wanted to be in an area in which she would have myriad opportunities in the research and medicine.

Learn More
Melissa Duffy '20: Artist and Appreciator

When Melissa started at Emmanuel, she chose what she believed to be two separate and distinct majors—studio art and history—to fulfill her both her personal and professional interests.

Learn More
Kai Uehara '20: Social Justice Scholar

Kai has always had the inclination to try to make any situation better. When he was searching for colleges, Emmanuel's social justice mission resounded deeply with his ideals of supporting those who need the help.

Learn More
Robert Columbus '20: The Idea Man

Robert’s interest in the workings of the wider world grew in 2011 as the Arab Spring became international news. “I love history,” he said, “so knowing the history of the states as well as their current affairs made their actions and interactions much more interesting to me.”

Learn More

Let's Get Started.

Emmanuel is a place where students broaden their sense of what’s possible and prepare for inspiring careers in an ever-changing world. Be here.