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California State University, Sacramento

Posted: November 3, 1999


Fulbright Scholar Promotes Consumer Protection in Former Soviet Union


Americans take things for granted - physicians are licensed and products are safe, and if they're not, there's an agency to turn to. Those kinds of protection don't always exist in the newly democratic countries of the former Soviet Union, says Robert Hurley, a criminal justice professor at California State University, Sacramento.

Hurley has been awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar grant to the recently independent Republic of Georgia, where he'll teach criminal justice courses and American-style consumer protection, such as how to set up licensing procedures and avenues for complaint resolution. In January, Hurley heads to the University of Tiblisi in the Georgian capital.

The trip is an extension of Hurley's civic education efforts in formerly communist countries. He and other CSUS professors work with government officials at the city and county levels, helping them to be more democratic. CSUS faculty members have worked in this area for seven years.

Hurley's courses at the University of Tiblisi will be taught in English. But for out-of-the-classroom conversations, he's taking along his own translators - 13-year-old Natasha and 15-year-old Vasia. Hurley and wife Margaret McNally-Hurley, a CSUS government lecturer, adopted the brother and sister from a Russian orphanage three years ago. Though the children speak Russian, not Georgian, most Georgians speak Russian as their second language, says Hurley. The Hurleys four grown children will remain in the United States.

Hurley will stay in Georgia until August, combining his Fulbright experience with a sabbatical. He hopes to develop some international criminal justice courses. He has a special interest in examining delinquency among orphaned children in the former Soviet Union.

Since the fall of communism, thousands of children have ended up in orphanages. Usually when the children reach 16 or 17, they're out on the streets and on their own. In the old days, the government would provide for them. But economic growing pains mean the government can't afford to provide the safety nets established democracies can, such as community college, military service and social services until they turn 18.

In the last 11 years, CSUS has averaged one to two Fulbright senior scholars each year. The Fulbright Program also awards research grants. The program is operated by the United States Information Agency and is designed "to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries." While in Georgia, Hurley will work under the U.S. State Department and have access to the U.S. embassy.

Hurley is an old hand at foreign travel. He's been to both Russia and China several times. On a previous Fulbright grant he spent time in Africa.

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