Michigan State University

MSU Librarian Receives Fulbright Award

Cindy Hunter Morgan

Picture of MSU Middle East Studies Librarian Deborah Margolis

MSU Middle East Studies Librarian Deborah Margolis has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award. Margolis will conduct research in partnership with Tomorrow’s Youth Organization in Palestine, the University of Jordan Libraries American Corner, and in the Digital Scholarship Lab at MSU Libraries as part of a project to encourage youth development and create relationships among college-age youth and among professionals from different parts of the world. Dean of Libraries Joseph A. Salem, Jr. said the award will give Margolis and others at MSU opportunities to invest in and encourage collaborative relationships and lead meaningful initiatives in diversity and inclusion, key values for the MSU Libraries.


“This is a high honor, and the award reflects Margolis’s history of service and leadership, particularly the Muslim Journeys program” Salem said. “I’m delighted that MSU Libraries will be one of the host institutions, and I’m really pleased that the project Margolis will lead will help facilitate connections in our local and global communities.”


The goal of Margolis’s project is for students to work as participant researchers to study their own creative spaces and the creative spaces of others and, in the process, get to know one another. The study will focus on physical spaces and how to make spaces welcoming to young people of diverse identities. Though it was planned primarily as a virtual project, Margolis anticipates that her research will likely evolve due to COVID-19. Her hope is that the young people involved will gain skills, confidence, and a new international network of friends, colleagues, and mentors. 


“The spirit of the project is rooted in a sense of inclusion,” Margolis said. “My initial interest was about what makes library spaces, which have been changing so much in recent years, welcoming to diverse youth. What I really hope is that the project will in itself create a space for young people to develop and create new possibilities for their own lives and for our socieites.” 


Margolis’s project was inspired in part by MSU College of Education Professor and Associate Dean Dr. Kris Renn. Renn led a campus study using heat maps to find welcoming places at MSU and found the MSU Libraries are among the most welcoming spots. Renn is advising Margolis on this project and will help lead the virtual training of participant researchers, as will MSU Data Librarian Scout Calvert. Margolis’s project was also shaped by her involvement with College of Arts and Letters Critical Race Studies Artist-in-Residence Qais Assali, who led a class in 2019 as a virtual collaboration between students at MSU and in Palestine. 


Margolis has received previous funding from MSU’s Asian Studies Center and Muslim Studies Program for travel to Palestine and Jordan, and from MSU’s Center for Gender in Global Context, which awarded a Strategic Partnership Grant to develop this Fulbright research project. 


Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as their history of service and demonstrated leadership in their fields. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and it designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program gives students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. 


The MSU Libraries are partners in the teaching, learning, research, and engagement missions of Michigan State University. As the information environment has become more complex, the MSU Libraries have emerged as a revitalized intellectual center on campus. The recently developed Digital Scholarship Lab combines an immersive 360-degree video lab with technology designed to foster creation and collaboration. Faculty and students partner with librarians in the space to learn the technology, complete assignments, and explore new areas of scholarship. The core mission of the Libraries is to create an inclusive environment which encourages intellectual discovery. 


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