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Otundo Selected for Bridge-Building Mission to Israel

Joseph Otundo
UA Little Rock assistant professor Joseph Otundo will be traveling to Israel for an academic fellowship this summer. Photo by Benjamin Krain

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor is one of 32 participants – and the only one from Arkansas – from universities and colleges from across the country who were selected to take part in an academic exchange exploring Israel’s history, government, culture, and economy.

Dr. Joseph Otundo, an assistant professor of health education and promotion from Little Rock, has been selected for the 2023 Summer Faculty Fellowship Program. Participants will travel through Israel from May 27-June 9, meeting Israeli professors from their respective disciplines and with the same, or similar, research interests – all with the goal of developing collaborations, research projects, co-authoring articles, and establishing exchange programs between faculty and students.

“I feel so excited and honored to be selected for this program,” Otundo said. “I want to thank the university. It’s through working here that I am getting the chance to represent UA Little Rock outside of the country. I can assure everyone from the chancellor and the rest of the employees that I will be a good ambassador for the university.”

Through the support of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Boruchin Center and individual donors, the tour, in which more than 600 people have already taken part, is a fully paid intensive program to Israel for full-time U.S.-based academics from recognized universities/learning institutions.

During the trip, the participants will meet Israelis from all walks of life and will hear from a variety of speakers. They will also be exposed to contemporary Israeli society, culture, historical sites, and the way of life in Israel. The academics will meet with professionals and experts in government, education, media, and other sectors to understand the many facets of Israel’s evolving national and international policies. Participants will gain a deeper awareness of Israel as a “Start-up Nation,” its success in water innovation, and how the country addresses regional and global challenges.

Otundo is especially looking forward to the trip, as this will be his first visit to Israel. To prepare for the trip, he and his fellow faculty members were given a book called “Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn” by Daniel Gordis to read. Some of the excursions that Otundo is looking forward to the most include a night walking tour of Jerusalem, a visit to Parliament and the Supreme Court, and a visit to a water treatment recycling plant.

Additionally, Otundo is looking forward to the chance to collaborate with faculty members in Israel and learn more about health education and promotion topics.

“By virtue of teaching health education and promotion, I’ve been teaching classes on nutrition, and I am excited to learn about nutrition and diet in Israel,” Otundo said. “In line with one topic I teach about environmental health and water, I’ve read about Israel being one of the leading countries in terms of water recycling. For the third item, as part of my research, I want to get data from all over the world. I’ve never had the chance to find academics in Israel to collaborate with. The last thing is learning about Israeli culture.  Sometimes, there is a disconnect between what you hear and what you experience. It will give me the opportunity to experience the culture firsthand.”

If anyone is interested in learning more about the 2023 Summer Faculty Fellowship Program, Otundo advised them to contact him at