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Blumberg Traveling Fellowships

The Janet Mitchell Blumberg Traveling Awards were established by Professor Phillip I. Blumberg and his children in 1976 in honor of his late wife, Janet Mitchell Blumberg '39, who spent her junior year with the Smith program in Florence, Italy. For many years this fund supported enhanced cultural learning opportunities associated with Smith's Junior Year Abroad programs in Europe.

The Blumberg Award allows students to augment their study abroad experiences by undertaking faculty-mentored research projects that encourage intellectual growth and cultural appreciation. The awards shall be made without regard to financial need. Any Smith student enrolled in a Smith Program Abroad for a semester or a full academic year will be eligible to apply.

Blumberg research proposals require a Smith College faculty mentor who provides support throughout the proposal development, research phase and final presentation on campus. The projects are expected to combine observation, research and first-hand cultural experience. The Blumberg Award is intended to support students who can demonstrate a personal and intellectual commitment to their proposed project and whose projects will enhance the student's understanding and appreciation of the host culture.

Approximately five awards of up to $1,500 are granted each year. This is a merit-based competition; financial need is not taken into account.

View previous Blumberg projects

Sports Diplomacy and the International System

Maria Schenck '12
In the wake of WWI, President Woodrow Wilson and others sought to create an international system which would encourage political solutions between States and put an end to war. The resulting organization, the League of Nations, was famously unable to stop World War II. The League of Nations was not the only outlet for diplomacy, however. Germany was also part of the international sport regime. My research uses the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, as a case study to examine States' use of sports diplomacy.

... As with all diplomacy, sports diplomacy is a multi-layered phenomenon. Though the Berlin Games were certainly the most politically charged to date, they were also the biggest. Everything from the size of the stadium to the food served in the Olympic Village surpassed everything that had had come before. Ultimately, I believe that if we want to continue to have huge international sporting events, we must concede that politics will be present to some degree.

Madeleine Pelletier: Challenging Societal Norms

Hannah Frydman '12
I first learned of Madeleine Pelletier in a course I took with Professor Buerkle during my first year at Smith. I went home from class that day and looked up a picture of Pelletier and the first that came up was an image of her in a man's suit holding a cane taken at the beginning of the twentieth century. She looked like no one else I had ever come across in the course of my studies in gender history.

... In reading Pelletier's theoretical work, it is clear that to her, identity is a thing that can be chosen. She thought biological women should choose to be men, or at least take on what she called "masculine" traits, in order to find equality in her society. Given this fact, how could I take her three descriptions of her childhood written in old age at face value? This question would not stop nagging me as I waded through archival documents and led me to focus my energy on Pelletier's life narratives.

A Photographic Exploration into German Cultural Identity

Margaret Metzler '11
Cultural identity is a topic that is often discussed in German media today. Because of its historically turbulent background, this identity is often defined by region rather than by the nation as a whole, particularly between the east and the west. The main goal of this project was to study the extent to which this feeling of German cultural identity is defined nationally or regionally and to illustrate my findings through photography. Through friendly conversation and shared daily activities with people in various parts of the country, I hoped to increase my personal understanding and appreciation of German identity as well as share my own cultural ideas with my hosts, and then to share my findings with others.

... Feelings of national identity varied throughout the country, though there was one common and unprompted reaction to this question in almost every home that came as a great surprise to me. This comment that I heard again and again was that they identified more as Europeans or as world citizens rather than as Germans. Several people talked about how they felt Germany was stigmatized elsewhere in the world because of the Second World War and how this painful time still overshadows the country's rich and important history, as well as the progressive ingenuity and accomplishments of Germany since then. A nurse in Fürth had another interesting comment, being that she felt she always had to defend her national identity when traveling - "I'm German, but I'm no Nazi."

Sustainability and Urban Development

Ella Hartenian '11
I am interested in how people and societies are affected by environmental degradation but also by efforts to protect and maintain ecosystems. My specific interest in the confluence of environmental degradation and stewardship with development programs has branched out during my time in Paris. Living in a city that has a strong public transportation infrastructure including access to an extensive train network, combined with a more condensed style of a living has made me particularly interested in the role of cities in a more sustainable future. According to the United Nations, over half of the world's population now lives in cities. This means that urban areas are going to be one of the key tipping points for how the human population rearticulates its relationship with the environment – are cities going to become human islands surrounded by protected and untouched nature, or can we find a more integrative approach that improves human quality of life and natural stewardship?

... Eco-villages are one manifestation of a raised awareness and a desire to cultivate a different social dynamic amongst residents. They have developed and expanded as the concept of sustainability has gained importance in Europe. They are, however, a very particular example of urban sustainability. Their geographical borders implemented by the designation of eco-village separate them from the surrounding community and often made me question why the water-efficiency measures and the on-site energy generation couldn't become the norm rather than the exception. The existence of this geographical boundary speaks to the large-scale reforms that must be implemented in order to truly alter the social and environmental fabric of these European cities; while eco-villages are exceptional neighborhoods, they represent how city dwellers could live rather than how the majority are living.

Eligibility

Restrictions

Blumberg funding cannot be used with Praxis funding.

Application Deadlines

Geneva Fall term applicants: Proposals for late December through January are due November 15.

Hamburg year-long applicants: Proposals for March/Spring term are due January 15.

All Smith Program Abroad applicants: Proposals for summer (May through August) are due March 15.

Report and Presentation Requirements

Students who apply for a Blumberg Traveling Fellowship agree to prepare and deliver a brief presentation of their project at the annual Blumberg Award Luncheon, attended by the donor Professor Phillip Blumberg and held in October. Visual aids are strongly encouraged in the form of PowerPoint, sound recordings, slides, photos, materials, and so on.

Applicants also agree to submit a two-page project report, which outlines the activities undertaken, and an expense report (PDF) to the Office for International Study in the first week of classes in the fall semester.

How to Apply

Students must consult with their JYA program director as they design and propose their projects.

Projects involving human subjects (such as interviews) must receive IRB approval before they will be considered for funding.

The following items should be pasted into a single word document, in the order listed, and sent by e-mail to the administrative coordinator in the Smith Office for International Study.

  1. Application cover page (PDF)
  2. Budget worksheet (see Helpful Tips & Instructions)
  3. Project proposal: outline your project in terms of goals, procedures, concrete results you aim to obtain and how you will present those results at the Blumberg Luncheon. Be specific in describing the project's academic validity and its connection to your academic and/or career goals. Include your project title at the top of the document. 1,000 words maximum.
  4. Personal statement: describe your personal and academic preparation for the proposed project, including related activities and interests. 500 words maximum.
  5. Travel itinerary: give a time line including approximate dates of any travel.
  6. Résumé: include all activities since high school and any community, sports or arts involvement.
  7. Letters of recommendation: One letter should be from your Smith faculty mentor and the other should be an academic recommendation from a Smith or local study abroad faculty member. These must be sent by e-mail from the faculty member directly to the administrative coordinator in the Office for International Study. When requesting a letter, be sure to provide the faculty member with information about your proposed project.

Please note: Your academic record will be also be reviewed by the committee.