This College of Human Sciences associate professor will bring a diverse perspective to his field after his academic exchange in Israel this summer.
Stephen Fife is about to embark on the first fellowship of his career when he visits Israel from May 27 to June 9.
A College of Human Sciences associate professor in the Couple, Marriage and Family Therapy (CMFT) program at Texas Tech University, as well as director of the CMFT doctoral program, Fife was selected as one of 32 nationwide participants in the competitive Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel. This program is supported by Jewish National Fund-USA's Boruchin Center and individual donors to boost collaboration between Israeli and U.S. institutions.
“I am super excited to not just study Israel and Israeli families and cultures from a distance, but be there in person and to meet and talk to the people there,” Fife said. “I really feel like it'll enrich my understanding of the world I live in by exposing me to a different culture and different customs, especially as they relate to family relationships.”
Fife is particularly interested in expanding his knowledge of Israeli families' culture to broaden his area of expertise.
“The field of marriage and family therapy is, in a lot of ways, focused on western traditions and family structures,” he said. “There are great researchers throughout the world studying similar things in their own countries, but I think connecting with other professors and developing international collaborations can enrich what we know about couples and families and how to help them through therapy.”
During this all-expenses-paid trip, Fife and the other faculty members will travel throughout Israel to meet Israeli professors from their respective diverse disciplines and research interests – all with the goal of developing collaborations, research projects, co-authoring articles and establishing exchange programs between faculty and students.
“I'm really hopeful the opportunity to meet with faculty at the different universities will initially produce some great friendships, but also develop into international collaborations,” Fife said. “I think that would be really interesting and fun.”
As part of the program, Fife will get to meet Israelis from all walks of life and will hear from a variety of professionals and experts in government, education, media, and other sectors to understand the many facets of Israel's national and international policies. He also will be exposed to contemporary Israeli society, culture, lifestyle and historical sites.
“It's really a comprehensive trip,” Fife said. “It's not just focused on the academics, although that's a big part of it. It's also focused on immersing us into the lives of people in Israel.”
Fife has worked at Texas Tech for six years. His research efforts are directed toward improving treatment for couples and families by specifically investigating two important areas: the common factors and processes of therapeutic change, and the treatment and healing of infidelity. His research and teaching also focus on enhancing the theoretical sophistication of research and practice in marriage, couple and family therapy.
He has published two books: “Techniques for the Couple Therapist: Essential Interventions from the Experts” and “Couples in Treatment: Techniques and Approaches for Effective Practice.”
Fife learned about the Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel after reading an email from the Texas Tech Office of International Affairs earlier this year. He is thankful he applied and looks forward to the opportunity for growth.
“Going to a place that's different and learning about a different set of cultures, customs and traditions helps me understand my own culture better,” Fife said. “It helps me be more reflective and inclusive.”