Blair Gifford’s teaching philosophy is that learning provides not only real-world opportunities for students, but also brings value to community health concerns. His work in global health issues over the last dozen years, including his most recent involvement in the development of a sustainable community-building institution in central Haiti, has led to his selection as a Fulbright New Century Scholar for 2009/2010.
The New Century Scholars (NCS) program plays a vital role in forging new links among scholars and professionals from around the world who work together to seek solutions to issues and concerns that affect humankind. Started by Harriet Fulbright just a few years ago, she considers it to be the “crown jewel” of Fulbright’s future. Those selected to participate as scholars in the program are chosen through an open competition annually.
The NCS is a unique program where 20 international scholars and 10 U.S. scholars are picked to participate in research and/or discussion of a key current issue. This year’s issue is “the university as an innovation driver and knowledge center” and Gifford’s research into community infrastructure development in Haiti exemplifies what the NCS theme is all about this year.
“Dr. Gretchen Berggren and I, along with some global health students from the University of Colorado Denver, are starting work on the project to build a model institute for sustainable community development in central Haiti,” explained Gifford. “This project is expected to include a consortium of universities including Cornell, MIT, Harvard, Tuskegee University and the University of Colorado Denver. It is both an honor and fulfilling for me that I’ll be doing this work as part of my work as a New Century Scholar for the U.S. State Department and Fulbright.”
Gifford is an associate professor of International Health Management in the Business School at the University of Colorado Denver, and the associate director of the Center for Global Health within the Colorado School of Public Health. The Center for Global Health is a program he originally founded within the auspices of the Business School at UC Denver in 2002. Similar to his charge in his new role as an NCS program scholar, Blair also helped to create Global Health Connections, a Denver nonprofit that brings middle school and high school students of the United States and other nations together to collaboratively learn about global health concerns and develop solutions to those issues.
“Blair’s accomplishments in global health are to be commended. His work benefits global communities and students and colleagues here in Denver,” says Sueann Ambron, dean of the Business School at UC Denver. “To have a faculty member recognized by the Fulbright program is a wonderful achievement.”
Launched in March 2001, the Fulbright New Century Scholar program “provides a platform for scholars from around the world to engage in debate and dialogue based on multidisciplinary research to develop new global models for understanding the social context within which nations and communities shape their responses to the many challenges of the 21st century”. This particular aspect of the New Century Scholars program is a unique feature that distinguishes it from the core Fulbright Scholar Program.
Overall, 10 American citizens and 20 international scholars are named Fulbright New Century Scholars every year. For the 2009/2010 academic year, the 30 scholars will convene three times in various locations around the globe to discuss “the university as an innovation driver and knowledge center”.
Located on the University of Colorado Denver’s downtown campus, the Business School is the largest accredited graduate school of business in Colorado with more than 18,000 alumni. The school serves more than 1,200 graduate students and 1,400 undergraduate students each year. Students and faculty are involved in solving real-world business problems as they collaborate on more than 100 projects with area businesses every semester through classroom work, guest lectures and research projects.