Six Students Win GC Interdisciplinary Fellowships

Six doctoral students have won fellowships connected with the Graduate Center’s interdisciplinary course Globalization, Health and Social Justice. The fellowships, awarded to students from psychology, sociology, and nursing, are sponsored by the office of the University Dean for Health and Human Services.

Now in its second year, the Globalization, Health and Social Justice course was created by Keville Frederickson, professor of nursing at Lehman College and former executive officer of the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in Nursing, and Nicholas Freudenberg, distinguished professor of public health at the CUNY School of Public Health and former executive officer of the GC’s Doctor of Public Health Program. The fellowships support research projects that enhance the understanding of the relationships between globalization, health, and social justice. Each fellow has selected a faculty mentor who will help complete his or her project. “These fellowships,” said Frederickson, “will create a network of Graduate Center students and faculty who can contribute new knowledge on globalization and health.”

The six research projects funded by the fellowship focus on pro-democratic cultural institutions, women’s health, suburbanite health, food advocacy, LGBTQ mental health, and the experiences of HIV-positive women.

In the course this spring, students analyzed the changing impact of globalization on the health of populations in low-, middle-, and high-income nations, and examined the intersections of its effects on health and social justice. In addition, students completed a comparative case study analyzing the impact of specific global processes on a health problem in two different settings.

The six graduate fellows are: Matthew Block (Sociology); Pengfei Li (Environmental Psychology); Wen Liu (Critical Social/Personality Psychology); Natasha Nurse (Nursing); Darcel Reyes (Nursing); and Virtue Sankoh (Clinical Psychology). Gillian Dunn (Public Health) serves as a graduate research assistant for the initiative.

Matthew Block, a recipient of last year’s fellowship, continues to examine how democratic political experiments in Kerala, India, influence well-being, assessing the impact of local self-governance institutions on the development of public participation in governance. He will be in Kerala for two months, where he will expand his research from last year on the People’s Planning Campaign for Democratic Decentralization, looking specifically at how a statewide, four-million-member poverty eradication and women’s empowerment program, Kudumbashree, affects the development of well-being and capabilities among women and their families in distinct communities. He will be working in connection with local researchers and organizers to conduct a multisite ethnography.

Pengfei Li aims to understand the lived experience of residents in a specific suburban community in Beijing in order to illuminate individual and communal health consequences.

Wen Liu will conduct a multisite study examining the relationship between mental health and human rights in the transnational LGBTQ movements in Taiwan and China. His study seeks to understand how the framework of human rights is both globalized and localized in LGBT advocacy work, as well as utilized in the practice of LGBT mental health.

Natasha Nurse will conduct research on adolescents and food advocacy in Cape Town, South Africa. Her research will look at adolescent social choices generally as well as specific advocacy ideas related to food choices and availability.

Darcel Reyes seeks to understand the lived experience of HIV seropositive Haitian women who participate in an HIV support group at the CapraCare Center in rural Fonfrede, an impoverished community in the countryside of Les Cayes, Haiti.

Virtue Sankoh will translate Western-developed psychological treatment for traumatized youth to aid juvenile inmates in Sierra Leone.

The results of these projects will be synthesized and a report of the findings made available in the coming months.