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Sturtz returning to Balkans region, this time to teach as a Fulbright scholar

Story By:
Paul Miller | Director of Strategic Communications and Community Relations
John Sturtz
John Sturtz

Associate Professor John Sturtz will spend part of his summer teaching at the University of Sarajevo on a Fulbright Scholar Award.

It will not be his first visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, far from it, but he welcomes the opportunity to gain more experience about the region’s history, its culture and politics, and its contemporary issues, he said.

A faculty member in the college’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies program who holds split appointment with the Education Department, Sturtz will be a teaching scholar at the university, which is in the capital city of the Western Balkans country. He leaves May 31.

At the crossroad of south and southeast Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina borders Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia.

Sturtz said he is excited and honored for the award, which he first applied for just before the pandemic, in 2019. He learned in April of 2020 that he was selected. Fulbright alums include dozens of Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as hundreds of leading scientists, journalists and teachers, and leaders in the private, public and non-profit sectors.

Engaging local communities during the exchange is encouraged, Sturtz said, and is why he hopes to be able to use his teaching there and the lessons he takes from the students he will work with to make virtual connections with students at Keene State. The University of Sarajevo has roughly 27,000 students.

“It is an interesting time in Bosnia, Sturtz said. “There is an election coming up October third, and you also have the conflict in Ukraine and the potential spillover effect. Bosnia is divided along ethnic lines with deep connections to Russia that go back generations.”

Sturtz’s Fulbright comes on the heels of other college-related trips he has made to this region, including in 2020 when he traveled to collect data for a pilot study during his sabbatical. The study was to document schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina that were sites of mass atrocities.

On three separate occasions, 2017-19, Sturtz was a presenter at the International Peace Week at the Center for Peacebuilding, a non-governmental organization based in Sanski Most in the northwestern region of the country.

A 2017 Study Tour organized by the Cohen Center of Holocaust and Genocide Studies was eye-opening, Sturtz said, noting that he came then to understand and appreciate the “real power and history of this unique place.”

Judge Patricia Whalen, was a driving force of that trip, said Sturtz, who also traveled with Whalen to Bosnia and Herzegovina for each of the Peace Week excursions.

For the Study Tour, Judge Whalen and Sturtz were joined by, among others, Keene State colleagues Hank Knight and Tom White, as well as community members.

Whalen’s distinguished career includes a role as special adviser to the War Crimes Chamber at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and as an international judge of the country’s War Crimes Chamber.

She would later teach an International Law and Genocide course in the Holocaust and Genocide and Criminal Justice programs at Keene State. Sturtz said Whalen’s understanding of international law and her passion and advocacy around mass atrocity prevention only deepened his interest in his own education and teaching.

On this trip, Sturtz will teach a class titled Education in Divided Societies, a version of which he teaches at Keene State, and Civics and Citizenship.

The Fulbright Scholar Program is sponsored by the US Department of State and administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

This recognition makes Keene State College a top producer of Fulbright Scholars among institutions of its type and size offering primarily baccalaureate programs.

For more information about the Fulbright Scholar Program, visit

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