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Kyle Kostelecky, associate professor of human development and family science in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University, has been named the 2021 Rowe Endowed Professor.

The Mike and Leann Rowe Endowed Professorship in International Studies is awarded to faculty who demonstrate a commitment to students, quality instruction, research and service. The professorship supports teaching, research and other programs dedicated to increasing international studies within the college.

“I am quite humbled and honored by being selected for this position. It is an amazing and exciting opportunity that comes after years of working to build programs for students to grow in their global citizenship,” Kostelecky said. “Having students and graduates from our college, who are more globally aware puts them in a unique and competitive position once they graduate. Our job market today looks for international experience or, at a minimum, global awareness. My ability to now focus on some of this work will take our college’s programs to the next level, with more intentional learning experiences for our students.”

Kostelecky also serves as the project director and principal investigator of the Military Families Learning Network, a collaborative initiative that supports online professional development opportunities for military family service providers and Cooperative Extension professionals. His research and teaching focuses on family interaction, child development, lifespan development, military families and intergenerational relationships.

“Dr. Kostelecky’s passion for engaging with and mentoring students in international experiences is inspiring,” said Jennifer Kerpelman, professor and associate dean for research, graduate studies and outreach in the college. “His commitment to enhancing the global awareness of College of Human Sciences students is evident from his past programs, and his plans for involving undergraduate and graduate students in learning experiences located in Peru, Italy and Ireland will expand their horizons while offering novel opportunities within the college’s robust Global Education program.”

With support from the Rowe professorship, Kostelecky will focus on building and expanding on international programs. One such project will be the launch of the college’s first study abroad program for graduate students in Italy.

Last year, the program’s development was halted due to COVID-19. Kostelecky said the delay allowed him and other faculty members to refocus their efforts and gain momentum for a mid-2022 launch.

“Our graduate students who become involved in this opportunity will offer a distinctive set of skills and experiences that universities, research teams and classrooms will benefit from,” Kostelecky said. “Part of the program is to make formal and authentic connections to Roman, Italian and even global faculty and graduate students that are a typical part of European universities and specifically, those we will visit in Rome on this first trip.

“The resources provided by the professorship allows me a little extra time on the ground post-experience to assess how things went with our staff in Ariccia, those universities in Rome and work to improve the experience for the next time around.”

Kostelecky also plans to use the professorship’s support to gain momentum on a semester-long, human development and family science-specific abroad program in Dublin, Ireland, and refine the existing Peru study abroad opportunity to address undergraduate students’ professional and academic interests.

The success of the first Peru study abroad program that Kostelecky led during winter break in 2019—in which undergraduate students studied culture in the Andes Mountains, along the coastline, in the Amazon rainforest and in the heart of several Peruvian cities—has inspired more students to pursue international learning experiences in Spanish-speaking countries in South America.

With the Rowe professorship, Kostelecky said he and his colleagues are able to move forward on these international projects that will elevate human sciences students in the workforce in a more meaningful way.

“In our increasingly globalized society, it is critical for Auburn University graduates to enter the workplace with a full appreciation and understanding of the differing values and customs of world cultures,” Kostelecky said. “The College of Human Sciences and the Department of Human Development and Family Science are committed to educating socially responsible global citizens who thoroughly understand the value of working across borders, analyzing information from a variety of perspectives, approaching problem solving in non-ethnocentric ways and understanding the complexity of issues facing individuals, families and communities.

The generosity of Auburn alumni Mike and Leann Rowe supports this professorship opportunity in the College of Human Sciences. For more information on ways to support the college, visit humsci.auburn.edu/give.