Saint Michael’s professor, student receive Fulbright awards

May 6, 2016

Two members of the Saint Michael’s community, Sociology Professor Robert Brenneman and graduating senior Conor Floyd ’16, are recent recipients of prestigious Fulbright awards, to be used to support extended and intensive international scholarship in the coming year.

As a Fulbright Teaching/Research Fellow for 2016-17, Brenneman will be in Guatemala, splitting his time between teaching a graduate course in Religion and Violence in Guatemala at Universidad Rafael Landivar, Guatemala’s Jesuit university, and conducting research on the rise and impact of the private security industry in that country.

Both aspects of the fellowship are a natural extension of the professor’s previous work studying and writing about the impact religion has in counteracting gang violence in Central America. His book examining the subject, Homies and Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America (Oxford University Press), was published in 2012.

Shifting his focus to the burgeoning private security industry in Guatemala, Brenneman will interview current and former private security officers, hired by individuals and families who can afford it, to protect them from gang and other forms of violence and theft. “Because of the nature of violence in that country, people are hopping to ‘islands of security.’ Hired security is everywhere. You’ll even see a bread truck with an armed guard riding along.”

Despite the environment, however, data shows that things are actually improving in Guatemala as investigations are yielding better intelligence to solve higher profile cases and bring them to justice in the courts. It is a complex country undergoing important changes, which make it fertile ground for research.

“I don’t have an explicit hypothesis going in,” says Professor Brenneman. “But I’m looking forward to discovering the questions when I’m there.”

The Saint Michael’s College Sociology-Anthropology Department has had other Fulbright award recipients, including Professor Patricia Delaney, who received a Fulbright Scholarship for teaching and research at the National University of East Timor, and St. Mike’s alum, Alyssa Cuddy ‘14, currently teaching English in Thailand under a post-undergraduate Fulbright award.


Conor Floyd’s award is for a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to Andorra to teach English, from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Floyd will be teaching at Escola Andorrana de Segona Ensenyança d’Encamp. Floyd is one of over 1,900 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research, and provide

expertise abroad for the 2016-2017 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries that are needed to solve global challenges. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright Program’s establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. Since then, the Program has given more than 360,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Fulbrighters address critical global challenges – from sustainable energy and climate change to public health and food security – in all areas, while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States and the world. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 54 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 82 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 33 who have served as a head of state or government. Fulbright recipients are among over 50,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered by the Institute of International Education. For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit or contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Press Office by telephone 202-632-6452 or e-mail

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