Oklahoma State University Professor L.M. Hynson is helping to give peace a chance in Thailand.
Hynson, a professor of sociology, is currently in Thailand as a Fulbright Senior Specialist, setting up the curriculum for a new master's of peace studies degree at the Prince of Songkla University.
The university is in the southern part of Thailand, a country struggling with the growing pains of modernizing its economy.
For the past 10 years, Thailand has been transformed from an agricultural to an industrialized nation. The building of factories and other industrial facilities have sparked protests regarding pollution. Some of the demonstrations have turned violent, and several environmentalists have disappeared or been killed. Along with environmental issues, southwest Thailand has also been plagued with conflicts resulting from religious disputes.
Hynson said Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej set up a Peace Institute at Songkla University to help promote peaceful alternatives to these often deadly confrontations.
"The institute has two primary functions: to promote peace in that region of Thailand and to offer a master's degree in Peace Studies,” Hynson said. “My assignment is to give lectures, develop a curriculum for the M.S. degree and work with faculty on various projects."
Hynson thanked OSU Senior Vice President and Provost Marlene Strathe for signing a cooperative agreement with Prince of Songkla University in November 2003.
"Agreements such as these make a big difference in our people getting the Fulbrights," he said. "Dr. Strathe is a big believer in faculty gaining a global perspective through international assignments. She plays an important role in connecting faculty to research projects such as the Fulbright. I appreciate her support because it made a big difference in my going to Thailand."
Strathe said lessons learned abroad translate to better classroom teaching at OSU.
"In an increasingly global world, it's more important than ever that our students gain this perspective and graduate from here with an understanding of world affairs,” she said.
Hynson holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee and is an applied/clinical sociologist. His research interests include East Asia, technology transfer, community and organizational development. At OSU, he serves on the core faculty of the School for International Studies.
His report on the project will be published by the U.S. Embassy in Thailand and also will be featured on the Washington, D.C. Fulbright Office Web site.
Hynson says he's hopeful that his work will become an ongoing project between OSU and the Thai university.
The Fulbright program offers teachers, scholars and professionals the opportunity to teach and study abroad. The program was established from legislation initiated by the late Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright to promote “a mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world."
At OSU, the Fulbright Information Center in the School of International Studies has been established to introduce students and faculty to the variety of opportunities offered by the program.
For more information, call (405) 744-4722 or e-mail Dr. Nancy Wilkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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