Theology professor receives Fulbright to Indonesia

Paul Knitter will teach at Gadjah Mada on grant through the Senior Specialist Program | July 7, 2004

Professor emeritus Paul Knitter has won a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to teach at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia this fall. Knitter, who has taught theology at Xavier since 1975, travels to Yogyarkarta, Indonesia, for three weeks in September, spending the first week in Padang with Catholic theologians before going to the university.

“I don’t like to be away from the family more than three weeks at a time,” said Knitter, who arranged the two events to coincide.

Knitter first taught at Gadjah Mada for three weeks in March 2000, financed by the U.S. State Department to help develop a new graduate program in cross-cultural and interreligious studies.

“The object is to support efforts by Muslims to develop a more open Islamic theology toward other religions,” Knitter said. He has also been directing students’ master’s theses by e-mail.

After his initial visit, Knitter wanted to return to the school, so he applied for a Fulbright Senior Specialist Program, which ranges in length from two to six weeks.

“The traditional Fulbright Scholar Program offers grants ranging from two months to an academic year, and some academics and professionals find it difficult to be away overseas for that length of time,” said Patti McGill Peterson, executive director of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, the organization that manages the Fulbright Scholar Program. “The new Senior Specialists Program offers them another option.”

While at Gadjah Mada, Knitter will participate in city-wide seminars on foundations for interreligious cooperation directed at students from different schools.

The Senior Specialist Program offers grants to leading U.S. academics and professionals to support curricular and faculty development and institutional planning at academic institutions in 140 countries around the world.

Created to complement the traditional Fulbright Scholar Program, which was started in 1946, the program aims at increasing the number of faculty and professionals who have the opportunity to go abroad on a Fulbright.

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and managed by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. The program’s purpose is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Grantees also undertake new activities, ranging from conducting teacher training and developing and assessing curricula or educational materials to leading seminars or workshops or conducting needs assessments.

For further information on the program, visit the CIES Web site at For a related story on Knitter’s efforts to promote interrelgious dialogue, visit Xavier Magazine Online.