University of Richmond's Civic Engagement Leader Receives Fulbright Award to Study Civic Engagement Model in Finland

June 1, 2022

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Sylvia Gale, executive director of the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Richmond, has been awarded a highly competitive Mid-Career Professional Development Award from the Fulbright Finland Foundation to study an innovative civic engagement model in Helsinki, Finland.

Fulbright’s mid-career grants allow professionals in various fields to take a sabbatical leave of four to five months to pursue further education or training that would enhance their professional development and the field at large. The funding supports a monthly stipend and travel expenses.

Gale will be jointly hosted by the Finnish university Tampere University and a 150-year old social services organization in Helsinki, the Deaconness Foundation, which works with marginalized populations in Finland.

“This project explores how civic engagement initiatives can systematically and creatively prepare volunteers to act from a sense of collective belonging, Gale said. “I will be immersed in a Finnish model for volunteer engagement that is rooted in trust-building across social difference and emphasizes social cohesion. Studying this model will prepare me to deepen our approach to volunteer capacity-building here at UR, in ways that are equity-minded and that aim to disrupt social stratification in the U.S.”

Gale will complete this fellowship from January–June 2023. Her experiences will be chronicled in a blog available on the Bonner Center for Civic Engagements’s website.


The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world.