AACRAO proudly recognizes the first recipient of the Nathanson Research Fund for International Education, Laura Parson

April 14, 2019
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Laura Parson, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of the Higher Education Administration program at Auburn University, doesn’t necessarily describe herself as an international scholar. Her research addresses topics such as women and underrepresented STEM students in higher education; how institutional processes, procedures and discourses impact the effectiveness of postsecondary teaching and learning; and ethnographic research methods, specifically institutional ethnography.


“I study institutional structure,” Parson said. “For example, I’ve studied the discourse of STEM in Western culture, which is often individualistic and competitive. It’s considered a ‘chilly’ climate, meaning it may be more challenging or hostile for women and underrepresented groups. I’m interested to see if those same discourses are present in different countries. Are there more supportive discourses globally? It might change how we create a STEM climate here.”


Comparative study: Institutional ethnography in Hungary

As the first recipient of the Gloria R. Nathanson Research Fund for International Education, Parson traveled to Hungary to explore these questions in light of recent legislative changes in Hungary that have partially undermined institutional autonomy. She spoke with institutional stakeholders to do an institutional ethnography regarding how the changes to the law were impacting the day to day lives of students, and also to explore how the STEM climate in Hungary compares to that of the U.S.


With the information she gleaned there, Parson also provided updates the AACRAO EDGE Database Hungary country profile in light of recent changes to the law. Parson’s research is under review to be included in an upcoming issue of C&U and subsequent manuscripts are in progress to be submitted to other journals.


Funding international research: Opportunities to apply or donate

“It was so wonderful for me as a scholar to be connect to this funding opportunity through AACRAO; I wouldn’t have been able to travel to Hungary without it,” Parson said. “AACRAO is also a wonderful place to disseminate my research to an interested and engaged community and meet a lot of wonderful people in the field, broadening the opportunity to further talk about research.”


Parson has also been in conversations with other AACRAOans, including Robert Watkins, about initiating a podcast in the field to talk with other scholars about current research.


The Gloria R. Nathanson Fund. Learn more about this grant opportunity, and apply or donate to support the fund here.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Joint-Funded Research Program. IELTS partners invite educational institutions and suitably qualified individuals to apply for funding to undertake applied research projects in relation to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Areas of interest include: Test development and validation issues; Issues relating to contexts of test use; and Issues of test impact. Other funding opportunities are also available. Learn more here.