Chamberlin Prepares to Head to Ukraine as Fulbright Scholar

After returning from a semester of teaching Iowa State students in Urbino, Italy, Associate Professor Dennis Chamberlin is back in the U.S. for a short time before he’ll have to pack his bags again for his next adventure abroad. At the end of the month Chamberlin will return to Europe, to spend the next year teaching photojournalism to graduate students as a Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine.

Chamberlin, a Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer, is one of two U.S. scholars to receive a Fulbright award to teach journalism in Ukraine. For his assignment, Chamberlin will be adding a documentary/visual journalism curriculum component to the master’s program at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.

“I’m really honored by the opportunity because I know that there aren’t that many opportunities for journalism professors with some of these awards,” Chamberlin says.

Chamberlin’s latest accolade is no small feat. The Core Fulbright Scholar Program offers nearly 500 teaching and research awards annually in over 125 countries. Last year, Iowa State had three professors who received Fulbright awards to study in Poland, Romania and Serbia.

“The Fulbright is a highly coveted award that, in many disciplines, is one of the highest honors a faculty member can receive,” says Dawn Bratsch-Prince, Iowa State’s senior vice president and provost. “It’s an acknowledgement not only the high quality of Dennis’ scholarship, but it also provides an opportunity for him to contribute to higher education on a more global scale.”

Chamberlin will teach the first photojournalism course offered by the UCU, a ten-year-old institution whose journalism program will celebrate its fifth year in September. Despite being a young program, Chamberlin said that his research indicated that UCU’s journalism program is among the best in the country.

“Dennis is a gifted photographer and a respected teacher, and I am confident that the Ukrainian Catholic University will find him a great resource,” says Beate Schmittmann, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “I also believe that Dennis will return with new inspirations and ideas and I look forward to seeing them take form.”

UCU offers a two-year master’s program and only enrolls 25 students in each class.

Chamberlin will spend the first semester working with second-year students and the second semester working with first-year students on photography and multimedia projects. Earlier this summer, he had a chance to meet some of the students he’ll be working with when he participated in the Lviv Media Forum as an invited presenter.

“I’m most looking forward to working with the students, who are so enthusiastic and passionate about becoming journalists and doing good for society and helping forge and create a new Ukraine,” Chamberlin says. “Their excitement was contagious.”

After spending a few days in Lviv, Chamberlin says that he already fell in love with the city. For him, Eastern Europe has a nostalgic feel.

Chamberlin lived and worked in Poland part-time after graduating from Indiana University. His trip to Poland was his first plane ride, which became the first of many trips to the country. In 1987, Chamberlin returned and lived there for 25 years.

When he first came to Poland the country was a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union. As a young photographer, Chamberlin was among the first western journalists who were granted access to cover life inside of the communist nation in the early stages of its Solidarity movement, which eventually led to the nation’s transition to a capitalist economic system and to a parliamentary democracy. After his first two-month trip to the country, he says he was “completely shocked, but in a good way,” and has returned to Poland all but one year since he and his family returned to the U.S. in 2002 so he could attend graduate school.

When he was applying for his Fulbright last summer, Chamberlin said he had no hesitation about applying for a Fulbright in Ukraine, despite the nation’s recent political turmoil. He says that the nation’s layers of history make it a complex and interesting place that he looks forward to exploring. His experience living and working in Poland through its time of political and social change left him eager to document and help future journalists document similar changes in Ukraine.

“Chamberlin’s plans for his work at the Ukranian Catholic University are a great way to extend his educational efforts to students and faculty in another country, especially a country that has been frequently in the news in recent years,” says William Gutowski, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State.

While teaching in Ukraine for the 2016-17 school year, Chamberlin will also participate in workshop projects in rural mountain areas in Ukraine and is planning to orchestrate collaborative projects between his Ukrainian students and students at the Greenlee School. He also hopes to facilitate future study abroad programs for Iowa State students. Chamberlin’s wife Joan has also secured a teaching position at UCU, where she will teach English and academic writing courses.