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Sen. Derek Schmidt awarded inaugural Simons Humanities Fellowship

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Kansas Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R- Independence, has been awarded the inaugural Simons Public Humanities Fellowship by the Hall Center for the Humanities at KU.

As a Simons Fellow, Schmidt will spend the fall 2006 semester at the Hall Center pursuing a personalized course of study at KU. He plans to explore globalization and its effect on Kansans.

The Simons Fellowship program brings nonacademic fellows to the Hall Center and KU each year.

Each fellow will use the time and resources available to broaden general interests, specialize in a particular field or explore a new area of interest. While at KU, Schmidt will consult with appropriate faculty, participate in courses and attend the Hall Center events of his choice. He will be asked to share his experience in a variety of settings, including a public lecture at the end of the fellowship period.

Schmidt received a bachelor's degree from KU in 1990, a master's in international politics from Leicester University in Britain and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He plans to merge his expertise in foreign policy and Kansas state policy.

"The traditional lines separating foreign policy from domestic policy are at least blurred and, in many cases, almost erased," he said. "Activities halfway around the globe have a direct and concrete effect on the daily lives of Kansans, including the 67,000 I represent."

Specifically, Schmidt plans to investigate the growing influence of China, India and Russia. He wants a better understanding of how the 3 billion residents of these countries participate and compete in an interconnected world.

"The way to learn that, I believe, is through the humanities and social sciences, to study modern China, Russia and India through economics, history, philosophy, the arts and other disciplines that will help me get to know these major players on the world stage."

The Simons family of Lawrence endowed the fellowship to give individuals of experience and accomplishment from outside the university the time and freedom to re-engage with humanities-based learning and enhance their career goals.