A master’s degree student studying German at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) has been selected for a U.S. Student Fulbright Award that will have her conducting research in Germany during the 2010-11 academic year.
Roma Claudia Hernández will conduct research on human interaction, perception and self-perception for her project, titled “The Phenomenology of the Self and the Other in the Works of Edmund Husserl and Edith Stein,” at Germany’s University of Cologne, which houses the Edmund Husserl and Edith Stein Archives.
“The Fulbright always stood out for me as one of the most difficult and rewarding programs available, so I applied for it, hoping that it would allow me to pursue education through research issues in phenomenology at the University of Cologne in Germany,” Hernández said.
Hernández, who will conduct her research with Professor Dieter Lohmar, will leave for her Fulbright study abroad year in July to attend a couple of summer programs that will complement her research over the next academic year.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program gives recent graduates, postgraduate candidates and developing professionals and artists opportunities for personal enrichment and international experience. Approximately, 1,500 scholarships are awarded through the program each year.
The purposes of the program are three-fold: to promote mutual understanding through a commitment to the free flow of people and ideas across national boundaries; to expand the dimensions of human wisdom, empathy and perception; and to create true and lasting world peace through cooperation in constructive activities between different nations.
In explaining her project to the selection committee, Hernández noted that in pop culture, everyone seems to be obsessed with the body, and although people are cautioned to “never judge a book by its cover,” it is difficult not to do so in a world that places such a heavy emphasis on the body. Moreover, she said, our consciousness about our own bodies is influenced by our awareness of other people’s bodies. But how are people conscious of their bodies?
Investigating the nature of consciousness, German philosopher Edmund Husserl developed an account of the structure of human consciousness, while his student, Edith Stein, explored interaction between human consciousnesses. “While Husserl was interested in the nature of human consciousness per se, his student, Edith Stein, was interested in how two or more conscious humans relate to one another,” Hernández explained. “Empathy, Stein argued, enables us to see ourselves in others; it enables us to perceive others as ‘just as we are.’"
Hernández seeks to update Husserl and Stein’s investigations in consciousness studies over the course of the academic year through her research on phenomenology, a discipline of philosophy founded by Husserl that focuses on the study of consciousness. Although there are more than 80 organizations dedicated to the discipline, the University of Cologne is the only place in the world that holds 500 of Husserl’s unpublished manuscripts, notes bundles and lectures. Additionally, the Cologne Carmelite Convent houses the only Edith Stein Archive in the world.