For a university to enjoy continued academic success, it must establish a culture that passes a certain mindset to the next generation of students. Professors cannot be students’ only teachers for this academic tradition to truly take hold.
You know the right culture is taking root when you see students learning from each other. And you see it when alumni come back to share lessons from their journeys. That culture was in full view when Cody Olander (’06, Master of Forensic Science ’08) returned to campus in November to speak about his research as part of a Global Studies Program lecture series.
Now, Olander’s subject didn’t relate directly to the vast majority of his audience’s research interests. (Olander traveled to Amman, Jordan, to study the differences between American and Jordanian forensic death investigations and the impacts of Islamic cultural mores as they apply to autopsies.) But Olander had insights that stretched beyond the narrow medicolegal intricacies of the Middle East.
He talked about the process of applying for Fulbright Scholarships, about choosing a subject and destination for meaningful research, and about navigating the language differences and clearing the cultural hurdles that are inherent parts of global study.
Olander’s common struggles abroad are what made his discussion on “how to reach forensic science investigative goals while heeding Jordan’s religious and cultural norms” a subject of universal appeal. He even found room for a certain humor, despite the grisly subject of human autopsies.
He included a PowerPoint presentation and photos from his trips. “This is Al-Emir Hamzah Hospital where many of these examinations took place,” he told the dozens of students gathered in Callen Conference Center to hear him. He circled himself in another photo with a laser pointer. “I see I’m wearing the same shirt today,” he said.
“I have other shirts. I promise."