In July, professor of Romance Studies Oswaldo Estrada began his term as the director of the Faculty Fellows Program at the Institute for Arts & Humanities. As a three-time Fellow at the Institute, Estrada recognizes the importance of “the exchange of ideas” that the program offers participants.
“The process of exchanging ideas with colleagues from other fields allows you to grow as a scholar and mentor because you have to examine the same issue from new angles and other disciplines.”
In spring 2021, Estrada was an Arts and Humanities Fellow as part of the IAH Race, Memory, and Reckoning Initiative, where he worked on a book of short stories about the Latino immigration experience in North Carolina. During his fellowship, he workshopped some of his stories and was able to receive feedback from other Fellows in the program, from such departments as History, Archaeology and African, African American and Diaspora Studies.
The interdisciplinary nature of the cohort enhances your research, Estrada said. “Having to explain your research or creative project to someone outside your discipline makes your project more accessible to others,” he said.
That sense of collaboration and community is important beyond producing scholarly research, Estrada noted. “Given what we have been through just over the past five to ten years at UNC in terms of race, ethnicity, discrimination and violence, I strongly feel that we need to have more conversations about these issues to foster a genuinely diverse community that promotes gender equality, collaboration and inclusion.”
As a Latino faculty member, the first one to serve as Director of the Fellows Program, Estrada said he looks forward to facilitating that inclusive environment.
“I’ve gotten so much from the IAH that I’m glad to be in a leadership position that allows me to give back to those who are now working on their individual research projects,” he said.