Government Professor Receives Second Fulbright Award | St. Lawrence University

Government Professor Receives Second Fulbright Award

It’s not a common occurrence for faculty to be awarded a U.S. Fulbright scholar award. That’s part of what makes receiving a Fulbright so special. So, it goes without saying that earning two in one’s academic career is nothing less than extraordinary. And that’s exactly what Alan Draper has achieved while teaching at St. Lawrence.

The Michael W. Ranger ’80 and Virginia R. Ranger P’17 Professor of Government, Draper will spend the Spring 2020 semester at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, an institution that dates back to 1290 and is known to be one of the oldest, continuously operational universities in the world.

“Portugal is one of the only Western countries that has not had a right-wing populist movement. The Social Democrats have not collapsed, which has prevented it from becoming the base of a right-wing populist movement,” Draper explains. “I want to learn from them why they haven’t experienced that.”

Draper has been teaching government and political science courses at St. Lawrence since 1983. Well-known on campus and with alumni for his appreciation of horse racing, he is a frequent contributor of political opinion articles that have been featured in The New York Times, MarketWatch, and several in USA Today, among other national publications.

Draper earned his doctorate in political science from Columbia University. His books include The Good Society: An Introduction to Comparative Politics, co-authored with Ansil Ramsay; The Politics of Power: A Critical Introduction to American Government, written with Ira Katznelson and Mark Kesselman; Conflicts of Interests: Organized Labor and the Civil Rights Movement in the South1954-1968; and A Rope of Sand: The AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education, 1955-1967.

"I feel like I’m more prepared the second time around"

His first Fulbright—Distinguished Fulbright Chair in Political Science at the University of Innsbruck, Austria—was awarded in 2011. The Distinguished Fulbright Chair is considered the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright program.

“That’s the one I’m really proud of,” Draper recalls. “When you go abroad to teach, you come back with s may stories about your interactions and impressions of being there. I bring back stories to our students, which captures the culture and how students there think differently than they do, how American students are seen through their eyes.”

One goes like this: Draper, who had played quite a bit of basketball back in his day, remembers joining a group on the court in Innsbruck. “They told me ‘we play to 11,’ which made sense to me playing pickup games throughout my youth. But after playing for what seemed like quite a while, I looked at one of the guys and asked, ‘Haven’t we reached 11? When are you going to switch teams?’ He looked back at me oddly and said, ‘we play to 11 … at night. We don’t keep score, that would be too competitive.’ I thought, now there’s one of those cultural differences that you’re just not expecting but which enrichens the experience.”

The latest Fulbright award began with a trip to the Azores Islands in 2016, where he told an audience during a guest lecture that there was no way Hillary Clinton would lose the election. Draper met a Portuguese scholar in the Azores, who he later contacted about the possibility of being invited to Portugal for a Fulbright. Connections were made, and he was invited to teach courses at Coimbra in American politics, including a new course on President Trump called Politics of Rage.

“I got invited to be a Fulbright and teach classes in Portugal because I was completely wrong and misled the audience in the Azores,” Draper says, laughing. “What’s nice is that I feel like I’m more prepared the second time around.”