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SU's Ratti Wins Fulbright Award

Manav RattiSALISBURY, MD---When U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright proposed what would become the Fulbright international exchange program in 1945, he did so to advance the “promotion of international good will.”

Adding to the list of Fulbright Scholars bringing national and international distinction to Salisbury University, Dr. Manav Ratti, associate professor of English, has been awarded a grant through Fulbright Canada — with the good will envisioned by the senator unfolding in Salisbury itself.

The Fulbright Canada-RBC Eco-Leadership Program provides small grants for current grantees and alumni of the Fulbright Canada program to partner with local organizations in order to make a significant positive environmental impact in their community. During the 2015-16 competition cycle, there were a total of 12 awards made to scholars based across the U.S. and Canada.

Ratti, a Canadian citizen, received the award to start a sustainable community garden in Salisbury’s Newtown Historic District, about two miles from the University. Collaborating with the Office of the Mayor, GreenSBY and area churches, he plans to break ground this spring, with the first harvest expected in the summer.

“The award reaches many goals,” said Ratti, noting that the economic, empowerment and educational benefits the project will offer, along with the exchange of ideas it represents, aligns with many of the Fulbright program’s goals.

Ratti’s collaborations will include working with Salisbury Mayor Jake Day, a link between the University and the city strengthened by Day’s and Ratti’s shared experience as alumni of Oxford University. Day completed his master’s in Environmental Policy and Ratti completed his master’s and doctorate in English at the British university.

“Dr. Manav Ratti long ago proved himself an asset to Salisbury University and the broader academy, but he has clearly proven himself to be an asset to the community of Salisbury as well,” said Day. “His choice to join with community leaders, Newtown residents, churches, GreenSBY, and my office to enable the establishment of another successful community garden in our City is an incredible gift to our community. We are so grateful for Dr. Ratti and Fulbright Canada and to see another example of why we should be so proud to have a world-class University in our blossoming City.”

“Dr. Ratti’s Fulbright award and project are a fine recognition of his talents and accomplishments, and a striking example of humanities scholarship extending into the community, and nature, in a powerful way,” said Dr. Maarten Pereboom, dean of SU’s Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts. “Now more than ever we have to be both educators and participants in making our communities stronger.”

The award dovetails with Ratti’s research interests in ecocriticism and postcolonial studies.

“Nature becomes the great equalizer across differences and inequalities of human societies,” he said. “The reverence that environmentalists have for the natural world can serve as a model for intercultural understanding and cooperation.”

The grant will be used for essential construction elements of the garden, including equipment, supplies, and infrastructure. Ratti said he is looking forward to working with the community as the garden takes shape — and helps shape others.

“When people are literally digging up the soil themselves, that’s a tangible investment in their transformation, and in turn the transformation of the community,” he said.

This is Ratti’s second Fulbright award from Fulbright Canada. He was previously the visiting Fulbright Scholar at New York University, which led to his critically acclaimed book The Postsecular Imagination: Postcolonialism, Religion, and Literature (Routledge, 2014).

Ratti arrived at SU in 2011. In 2013, he received the Excellence in Scholarship Award from the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts, followed by the SU President’s Diversity Award and the Office of Multicultural Student Services Distinguished Service Award in 2015.

This is Ratti’s third international award since joining SU. In 2014, he held a research fellowship at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, and in 2015 he held a research fellowship at Australian National University.

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