Springfield, Ohio - For a man with a last name indicating some degree of indecision, Wittenberg University Sociology Department Chair Dr. Keith Doubt is remarkably self-assured. He knows why he is heading to one of the most unstable societies in the world, and he knows what he hopes to accomplish while working as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Sarajevo in the capital city of war-ravaged Bosnia.
"As a sociologist, I want to draw upon what’s happening in Bosnia," said Doubt, who presented papers at a pair of seminars on democracy and human rights in Bosnia in the summers of 1998 and 1999. "I want to help people understand what’s happening there, and I want to grow as a sociologist in order to help the people of Bosnia tell their stories."
Doubt leaves Monday, Jan. 29 for Bosnia again, this time to spend five months studying its multicultural society, writing about the human indignities that took place there in recent years, and teaching classes at the University of Sarajevo. Among the proposed course topics are American Social Character, which examines leading works on the social history of American culture; Contemporary Social Theory, which surveys the work of social theorists and addresses theoretical paradigms in sociology; and Schizophrenia and Social Science, which addresses the nature versus nurture explanations of mental illness. Doubt also plans to be involved in research groups with Bosnian scholars.
Doubt, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College and master’s and doctoral degrees from York University in Toronto, Canada, says he initially took an interest in the Balkans in 1991. A year earlier, leaders who favored greater personal freedoms and a more loosely structured relationship with the hard-line military communist government of Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic were elected in several of the country’s provinces. That led the communist dictator to wage a series of wars on Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo that included terrible human atrocities and eventually led to intervention by the United Nations and then a military coalition of NATO allies.
While he has no personal connection to the region and did not previously consider himself an academic expert on the topic, Doubt began discussing the Balkan conflicts in his classes at Truman State University in Missouri. Using the terrible human situations as case studies, he quickly zeroed in on the sociological issues of the conflict in Bosnia that led him to apply for the Fulbright Lecturing Award. He also authored "Sociology after Bosnia and Kosovo: Recovering Justice," in addition to numerous papers and articles on similar subjects.
"It’s a very challenging issue," Doubt said. "The conflict in Bosnia and all the events that transpired in the last decade have begged for sociological examination. Sociologists have previously ignored the situation."
The Fulbright Program, named for former U.S. Senator from Arkansas J. William Fulbright, is billed as America’s flagship international educational exchange program and is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, United States Department of State. The program has been in existence for 54 years and nearly 250,000 people — including 86,000 Americans — have studied, taught or researched abroad while approximately 144,000 students, scholars and professionals from other countries have engaged in similar activities in this country.