John Ellis, Ph.D.
I am excited to lead this year’s exploration of Irish history and culture. I first visited Ireland while working in archives in Dublin and Belfast for my doctorate back in the early 1990s. Times were tough economically back then and the Troubles were still raging. I have visited Ireland several times since and am impressed at the extensive progress I have seen. It is a revitalized Ireland that we will be touring, bolstered by a period of sustained economic growth, a fragile if lasting peace and a new harmony between the Republic of Ireland and Britain’s Northern Ireland. We will be visiting at a crucial time, as the implications of Britain’s “brexit” from the European Union threaten the conditions of prosperity and peace that have ushered in this new, happier chapter of Irish history.
Ireland has long been known as an isle of saints and heroes. But Ireland’s history has been ridden by conflict and one person’s saint is often seen as another’s sinner, one person’s hero is often another’s villain. Through our travels and study of Irish history and culture, we will be considering themes of national identity and nationalism, communal conflict and resolution, and how our understanding of Ireland and Irishness has been shaped by competing visions of the past.
I strongly believe in the power of international education. It certainly has had a major impact on my own education, career and life. As a student, I have studied in Wales, London and India. As a professor, I have led students on expeditions to the British Virgin Islands, Wales and London and have been fortunate enough to assist with programs in Poland, Japan and Hawaii. During the ten years of the Wyatt Exploration Program, I have been impressed by the transformative impact that the program has had on students and colleagues alike. I am very proud to be contributing to that tradition again this year.
John S. Ellis
University of Michigan-Flint