Ethan Nowak receives scholarship to teach philosophy in Hong Kong

16 March 2022

Ethan Nowak, senior lecturer at the Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious studies, has been awarded a Teaching Sabbatical scholarship to teach at the Chinese University of Hong Kong during the fall semester of 2022. In Hong Kong he plans to learn more about Eastern philosophy with the hope of creating new courses for students in Umeå.

Ethan Nowak, senior lecturer in philosophy, Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious studies.


For Ethan Nowak, internationalisation has been a common thread throughout his professional life. He expresses gratitude for the opportunity to study and work in the USA, UK and Sweden.

- Having been in each of these environments has given me different perspectives on how to do philosophy and how to approach teaching. I already value the chance to go on a Teaching Sabbatical highly and I think I will value the experience more highly after I come back. I expect to learn a lot when working in a place with such a different tradition as the Chinese philosophical tradition, says Ethan Nowak.

To be awarded a scholarship for Teaching Sabbatical, Ethan Nowak had to go through a process of writing an application, being nominated from Umeå University to STINT and then being granted the scholarship and being approved by the host university. After applying in August 2021, he was finally granted the scholarship in December 2021.

- It felt great when they called, like a huge win. To have been granted something that can benefit me both on a professional and a personal level and that can also contribute to the university's development, says Ethan Nowak.

Wants to create courses in Eastern philosophy at Umeå University

Ethan Nowak's two research projects at the Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious studies is about language philosophy: one project from a theoretical perspective and one project from a practical perspective. It was this research project from the practical perspective that gave him the idea for what he wanted to do during his Teaching Sabbatical.

- In my research project on linguistic diversity, I use theories from traditional Chinese philosophy, which are theories that we in the Western world do not usually use to analyse languages. So, I saw going on a Teaching Sabbatical as an opportunity for me to learn more from experts in Eastern philosophy. It is a subject I do not yet feel comfortable teaching. I hope that the semester abroad will give me the opportunity to turn my research interest into courses in Eastern philosophy in Umeå, says Ethan.

In the autumn semester of 2022, Ethan is travelling to Hong Kong with his wife. In Hong Kong he will teach philosophy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In addition to teaching, he wants to develop his own teaching role by observing how his colleagues teach and what parts they emphasise in East Asian philosophy.

- I think this experience will enable me to offer something to our students that they would really like. I feel that there is a great demand for courses in East Asian philosophy, but few Swedish universities offer courses at an advanced level. I see this as a way for me to contribute to the building of society, says Ethan Nowak.

When asked what he is most looking forward to during his semester abroad, Ethan says that it is the opportunity to live in a big city.

- It feels very exciting to live in a big city with a tropical climate. I look forward to seeing what academic life in Hong Kong looks like and I also hope to learn some Chinese. And of course, to try new dishes. I have also heard that there is a park in eastern Hong Kong where it is possible to surf so I would like to check it out, says Ethan.

This is Teaching Sabbatical

Teaching Sabbatical is a program by STINT that gives teachers and researchers an opportunity to go and teach abroad during an autumn semester. You can for example give a course on your own or together with a colleague at the host university ("co-teaching"). The purpose of Teaching Sabbatical is to develop both individuals and institutions and to contribute to renewing higher education and forming new networks.

The application process usually opens in the beginning of June.

You can find more information about Teaching Sabbatical in Aurora.

Seminar and application workshop in April and June

In April and June, International Office together with UPL offers a seminar and an application workshop where you can get more information and receive tips on how to write your application.

Seminar about STINT Teaching Sabbatical 6 April

Application workshop for STINT Teaching Sabbatical


Ethan Nowak

Senior lecturer in philosophy


Ingrid Svensson

Coordinator for STINT Teaching Sabbatical at Umeå University


Name: Ethan Nowak

Age: 40 years

Profession: Senior lecturer in philosophy, Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious studies

Born: California, USA

Family: Wife Carole

Favorite word in the Swedish language: No favorite word but Ethan and his wife are fascinated by the Swedish language and its connections to the English language. They have a game where they identify contemporary words in Swedish that have common roots in words that are considered antiquated in English. For example, the word "behöva" sounds like the English word "to behoove" – an antiquated expression that means to have a responsibility to do something.

Ethan's tips for those who want to apply for Teaching Sabbatical:
Contact the university's coordinator for STINT at an early stage to get help with how to think about the application and what opportunities there are for you.

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