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Release: Immediate

Kristine Fitch named University of Iowa Global Scholar

IOWA CITY -- Kristine Fitch, associate professor of communication studies, has been named the University of Iowa's third Global Scholar.

Recipients of the Global Scholar award are released from half their usual teaching, advising, administrative, and service obligations for two consecutive years. The award takes the form of a developmental assignment for one semester each year, part of which will be spent in one or more foreign countries. Up to two Global Scholar awards may be made annually, for a total of four scholars in any given year.

As a Global Scholar, Fitch plans to conduct a study of personal relationships in four countries: the U.S., the United Kingdom, Spain, and Colombia. She will examine the relationships of both romantic partners and close friends, with the intent of shedding light on the ways in which culture shapes the relationships of partners within the same culture. By studying relationships in the chosen countries she hopes to determine whether parallels in behavior are based on language, history and/or hemispheres.

Fitch will use a combination of observation, interviews, analysis of documents and media texts and of audiotaped conversations between partners. The goal of the study is to increase understanding of the influence of cultural messages on the choices people make in their friendships, romantic and work relationships.

"Being named Global Scholar will allow me to take my research to the next logical step," Fitch says. Doing research in the U.S. and Colombia has been relatively simple logistically for Fitch, as she travels to Colombia frequently. "But without a semester off, doing fieldwork in the U.K. and Spain would be much more difficult. And having two semesters off so close together is a real benefit for data collection."