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Ridgewater College instructor named Fulbright Scholar

WILLMAR -- Sam Nelson, a history instructor at Ridgewater College, has been named a Fulbright Scholar for 2012-13.

He will teach at the Kazan Institute of Economics, Ma-nagement and Law in Russia for the entire 2012-13 academic year, according to a news release from the college.

Nelson plans to teach American history and government, Hollywood history and oral history, beginning in September.

The start date could vary, depending on the needs of the college, according to the release.

"It's broadening from a professional perspective, to experience another culture and to be exposed to the students and educational system from another country," Nelson said in the release.

He especially looks forward to exploring where Russian and U.S. history intersect from the perspective of Russian students and instructors, such as World War II or the Cold War.

Nelson recently led a 10-day educational tour to Europe to visit historic World War II sites, including Dachau, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Normandy Beaches and the D-Day Museum. He wrote about the experience in Ridgewater's blog on Area Voices, the Tribune's social media platform.

Nelson has been a reliable source for the Tribune in providing historical context for current events. In 2009, he allowed a Tribune reporter and photographer to sit in with a history class watching and discussing the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Nelson is one of approximately 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

"Sam's selection is testimony to his excellence in the classroom and his commitment and dedication to the teaching profession," Ridgewater President Douglas Allen said in the release. "Students at Ridgewater College have long known of his outstanding teaching ability."

Fulbright scholars are chosen by the U.S. State Department and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Its purpose is to increase understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Allen said this week that it's particularly noteworthy for a faculty member at a community college to become a Fulbright scholar.

Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, education, and athletics. Forty three Fulbright alumni from 11 countries have been awarded the Nobel Prize, and 75 alumni have received Pulitzer prizes, according to the release.

For more information about the program, visit

Follow Linda Vanderwerf on Twitter @lindavanderwerf

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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