AUBURN – Alexander Vazsonyi of the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University has been awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Czech Republic for this fall.
A professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Auburn, Vazsonyi will hold the Distinguished Chair in Social Studies at Masaryk University, the second largest university in the Czech Republic.
Fulbright Distinguished Chairs are the most prestigious appointment awarded by the United States Department of State. Of approximately 800 Fulbright grants annually, only 40 are for Fulbright Distinguished Chairs at 22 universities around the world. A presidentially appointed 12-member board selects faculty for the chairs, which are reserved for “eminent scholars with substantial experience and publications in their respective fields.” Of the 40 Fulbright Distinguished Chairs, only 13 are designated for the social sciences.
“The Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Chair recognizes a limited number of scholars whose work has global significance, and Dr. Vazsonyi certainly is a faculty member of that stature,” said Auburn Provost Mary Ellen Mazey. “He has a distinguished record of teaching, research and service at Auburn University that helps connect Alabama to the world and will have a tremendous long-term impact on his students.”
The Michigan native has established an international reputation for his research and teaching concerning adolescent development and behavior, as well as studies in related academic disciplines. His studies of youth across cultures, across ethnic and racial groups and across economic groups have highlighted many similarities among teens around the globe.
An Auburn faculty member since 1996, Vazsonyi has been widely published in the field of human development and is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Early Adolescence, one of the leading journals for scholars of early adolescent development, as well as practitioners in related professions. Also, he has authored or co-authored more than 80 major publications on human development since 1994, including the Cambridge Handbook of Violent Behavior and Aggression.
“Dr. Vazsonyi is an eminent scholar whose cross-cultural and intracultural research has had a major impact on the field of adolescent development,” said June Henton, dean of the College of Human Sciences. “The prestige that comes with receiving a Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award is well deserved recognition of his commitment to intellectual rigor and reflects the outstanding contributions he is making to the College of Human Sciences and to Auburn University.”
Masaryk University, with more than 42,000 students and widely recognized for its research programs, is located in the city of Brno, in the southern part of the country, near the Czech border with Austria and Slovakia. There, Vazsonyi will serve as a lecturer, mentor doctoral students, collaborate with Czech scholars and collect data on Czech and Roma youth for further studies of adolescent development and behavior.
“I am interested in how adolescents develop across different cultures,” he said. “Data from the Czech Republic will be another step in the process, and I am also looking forward to the opportunity to meet and share ideas with colleagues, students and the people there.”
Vazsonyi said the data for the countries studied so far reveal more commonalities than differences in development, attitudes and behaviors among adolescents on three continents. While many apparent differences exist among youth across cultures, most that have been identified so far are of a surface variety that, when peeled away, reveal similar concerns and core behaviors among youth around the world.
This is the second and higher-ranking of two Fulbright appointments for Vazsonyi, who was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Central Balkan republic of Slovenia in 2004. Since that experience, Vazsonyi has continued to work with Slovenian colleagues on cross-cultural research. Also, a Slovenian doctoral student who came to Auburn to work with Vazsonyi is now an assistant professor in his home country.
“One of the great things about the Fulbright experience is that we build ongoing relationships in the host country,” said Vazsonyi. “I hope there will be more collaborations and exchanges to come out of this experience in the Czech Republic, as well. There is much we can learn from and teach each other.”
(Written by Roy Summerford.)