Professor Jonathan Todres is Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law, where his research focuses on children's rights issues. Based at University College Cork during his Fulbright Award in 2017, he conducted research on human rights education for children, focusing on rights discourses in children's literature and other spaces children inhabit.
"In this data driven world, there is a tendency to want to quantify everything. Since returning from serving as a Fulbright scholar at University College Cork for the Spring 2018 semester, I’ve been asked countless times, “So what did you accomplish?” Sometimes I answer by discussing my research on children’s rights, human rights education, and human rights in children’s literature, or by talking about the International Children’s Rights course I co-taught with UCC Law Dean and Professor Ursula Kilkelly. Other times, I mention having had the opportunity to present my research on more than ten occasions to interdisciplinary audiences at UCC, Queen’s University Belfast, Leiden University Law School in the Netherlands, the Cork Bar and Southern Law Association, and the Cork Life Centre, a nonprofit organization serving youth outside the mainstream education system. Or that I was honored to deliver the keynote address, “Integrating Children’s Rights Education in the Spaces Children Inhabit” at the Advancing Children’s Rights through Education: From Innovation to Realisation symposium in Dublin.
But that is just a list of what kept me busy in Ireland; it does not begin to capture the Fulbright experience. The real gift of a Fulbright is the opportunity to explore new ground, to make connections, and to reimagine one’s work and all its possible paths. As a child rights advocate/scholar, I was able to connect with partners in children’s rights, family law, human rights, social science, child development, public health, literature, and the arts, not to mention extraordinary individuals who work directly with children and youth in the community. I also was privileged to be able to sit with young people and hear from them about their interests and hopes. All of this has inspired me to pursue more innovative approaches to my own work. It has me excited about the potential for collaboration with many of the partners I met in Ireland. In other words, the real answer is that the Fulbright experience has already shaped and will continue to shape my professional agenda for years to come.
As much of a gift as Fulbright was professionally, it meant even more on a personal level. I was fortunate that my wife and two young sons could accompany me. Together, we immersed ourselves in the Cork community and had the opportunity to explore parts of Ireland. We did cliff walks (occasionally wondering whether it’s possible for the wind to blow us into the sea), enjoyed the warmth of a pub on some cold winter days, survived a rare snowstorm, and benefitted countless times from the warmth and kindness of the people of Ireland. In short, we developed a connection to Ireland that will last a lifetime.
Those connections—both professional and personal—are the true value of a Fulbright."