USC Upstate’s David Damrel Receives Second Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award

October 12, 2018 at 9:44 am

Spartanburg, S.C. – Dr. David Damrel, associate professor of religion at the University of South Carolina Upstate, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program assignment to Sri Lanka in Comparative Religion. He will travel to Sri Lanka in January.

The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board appointed Damrel to the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka where he will lecture in both the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies and the Department of Arabic and Islamic Civilization. Damrel will be part of a project that involves teaching religious studies in multi-cultural societies.

“I’m thrilled to be selected for the Fulbright program again,” said Damrel, who received his first Fulbright appointment in 2008 for teaching and research at the Muhammadiyah University in Malang, East Java, in Indonesia. “There is a real institutional focus on global issues at USC Upstate, and this award reflects that initiative.”

Seven faculty members from USC Upstate, which has a strong commitment to international education on its campus and abroad, have received Fulbright Scholarships in the last dozen years. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recognized USC Upstate as one of the U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Scholars.

Damrel is among more than 800 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research, and/or provide expertise abroad for the 2018-2019 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.

Damrel is a native Texan and started out as a journalism major at the University of Texas at Austin. As an undergraduate he had a chance to study overseas for a year at the University of Isfahan in Iran where he studied Farsi and Iranian history, culture and religion. Following graduation from UT Austin, Damrel earned a Ph.D. in the history of religions at Duke University. He moved to Oxford, UK, where he was a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

According to Dr. Rob McCormick, interim dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at USC Upstate, “It’s important for our faculty and our institution to keep making these global connections. What Dave does and experiences in Sri Lanka will eventually feed right back into his classes here in the Upstate. It helps us remember that accounting for religious ideas, values and history is essential if we want to deeply understand the world, whether in Sri Lanka or in Spartanburg.”

Sri Lanka, an island slightly smaller than South Carolina with a population of approximately twenty two million people, is an early center of Buddhism and today, approximately 70% of Sri Lankans follow Buddhism, with Hindus, Muslims and Christians also present. At the University of Peradeniya, Damrel will teach courses about American religious diversity, with a focus on the experiences of Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim Americans. The challenge of teaching about different religions in a multi-cultural setting is one that is common to both U.S. and Sri Lankan classrooms.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbrighters address critical global in all disciplines, while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 82 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

For more details, contact Dr. David Damrel at 864-503-5798. For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Press Office at 202-632-6452.