SIT alumni present research at virtual Notre Dame Human Development conference

February 24th, 2021   |   Alumni, SIT Study Abroad

This year, eight SIT Study Abroad alumni are among twenty students selected to present their research at the prestigious Human Development Conference, which will be held online February 26-27. The annual student-led conference is sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies. This year's theme is "The Future is Now: Innovative Responses to Global Adversity." Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all students will be presenting virtually.

"On behalf of everyone at the School for International Training (SIT), I would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to the alumni of our programs who will participate in the prestigious 13th annual Human Development Conference at University of Notre Dame, as well as all the students from across the country, and the academic spectrum, who will have the opportunity to share their development-focused research," said SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett.

SIT has been a sponsor of the conference since the inaugural 2008 event. Independent research is a critical component of SIT Study Abroad's immersive, semester-long programs, which require students to complete original fieldwork, a final presentation, and a formal research paper.

Sara Ahmed

Sarah Ahmed
Psychology and Counseling
Wake Forest University
SIT India: Sustainable Development and Social Change

Research: "Breaking the Silence: Examining Mental Health Stigma, Literacy, and Access in Urban India"

My study abroad experience completely changed my academic goals! It inspired me to work in the mental health field, and starting this fall I will be starting a master's program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I'm grateful for SIT for giving me the opportunity to know myself better, and in turn, know how to best serve those around me in purposeful and meaningful ways.

Alison Cummins

Alison Cummins
Sociology, minors in English and Creative Writing
Muhlenberg College
SIT Nepal: Development, Gender, and Social Change in the Himalaya
Research: Creating Writing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Nepal and United States Perspectives

I settled on my research topic after being sent home from abroad because of the pandemic. I felt very dejected in my own creative writing at the time and was wondering if other writers were feeling the same. Choosing to find out through sociological research, I began to craft a research project that would help me to understand how writers were dealing with the pandemic. I reached out to Nepali and American writers and was soon on the path to understanding the cultural impacts of the pandemic on creative writers in these two countries.

Katherine Fulcher
Political Science and Hispanic Studies
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
SIT Mexico: Migration, Borders, and Transnational Communities
Research: “‘A Tale of Twinned Cities’: A Comparative Analysis to Predict Potential Twinning on the US-Mexico Border”

My research looks specifically at the state of border twinning across Europe, but the implications of this research could help policymakers understand the potential for a similar process in other regions of the world, like the US-Mexico border. Following graduation, I plan to work for a year before applying for a graduate program in international relations or public policy.

Samuel Johnston

Samuel Johnston
Economics and Mathematics
Willamette University
SIT Uganda: Global Development Studies
Research: “Coordination or Clustering: Logistic Estimation of Aid Fragmentation in Uganda”

I first settled on the topic during our Contemporary Global Development seminar course, where multiple guest lecturers discussed the frustrating lack of cooperation by international donors in Uganda and many other countries....After completing a primarily qualitative and literature-focused study for my SIT Independent Study Project, I decided to continue my research in a more quantitative sense for my senior thesis in economics at Willamette...In the future, I'm interested in pursuing graduate study in economics with a specific focus in development and international cooperation.

Daniel Krugman
Anthropology, minor in African Studies
Middlebury College
SIT Uganda: Global Development Studies
Research: “Survival as Solidarity: Refugee Exchange, Humanitarian Violence, and Social Cohesion in Mirieyi Settlement, Northern Uganda”

After graduation, I hope to continue to understand the dynamics of global forced migration and work towards the abolition of refuge in graduate school.

Jaran Rudd
Anthropology and Spanish
Austin College
SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages
Research: “How Covid-19 has Deepened the Environmental Crisis Among the Kichwa: A Discourse Analysis”

I settled on this research topic after Covid-19 disrupted our study abroad experience and I began to wonder how the Kichwa community that our group visited was reacting to this pandemic. When I learned that floods and oil spills were also causing troubles for their community, I knew that I needed to look at the question of development to make sense of this unique situation...I hope to pursue a PhD in anthropology and continue investigating the role of international financial institutions, NGOs, and the political-economic power of language across multiple cultural contexts.

Noah Stanton

Noah Stanton
Public Health and History, minors in Anthropology and Chinese
Vanderbilt University
SIT India: Public Health, Gender, and Community Action
Research: Mother Nature Meets Modern Woman: An Exploration of Environment, Gender, and Urbanism Amongst Delhi's Middle Class

I decided on my research topic after reading a book called "Ecofeminism" by Vandana Shiva, a renowned Indian activist....India's fascinating history of rapid development and urbanization, coupled with its unique cultural ties to nature, inspired me to explore the Ecofeminism framework in the context of women in Delhi. Since departing from India, I have become much more focused on issues of women's health, international development, and environmental justice; this shift has informed my job search as I look to work with a global health NGO after I graduate this May.

Liz Williams
Political Science and Sociology
University of Tulsa
SIT Senegal: Global Security and Religious Pluralism
Research: Thiéboudienne: A Look into the Intersection of Cuisine and Community in Senegal

The emphasis placed on decolonial thinking [during my SIT program] by both students and faculty alike has forever changed my perception of academia. The lessons I learned in Senegal and throughout my research process impact the interactions I have with systems and institutions daily. I am now better equipped to understand my positionality as a student and researcher and how my disciplines operate within the Western gaze. I intend to take this knowledge with me to law school and continue to challenge colonial ways of thinking and operating.