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SIT alumni to present undergraduate research at Notre Dame conference
February 17th, 2023 | SIT Study Abroad
Eleven SIT undergraduate alumni will present papers this month at the annual Notre Dame Human Development Conference, Feb. 24-25, at the university’s Keogh School of Global Affairs.
The theme of this year's conference is "Solidarity in Development: Empowering Agents of Change." Presentations will highlight the positive impacts individuals, organizations, and communities can have addressing global challenges. SIT is a co-sponsor of the event, along with Notre Dame's Ford Program in Human Development and Solidarity and the Center for Social Concerns.
The SIT Study Abroad alumni, their presentations, institutions, majors, and SIT programs are:
Isabel C. Brum Cancio
Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on HIV Care in the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) in Kisumu County, Kenya
Carnegie Mellon University
Majors: cognitive neuroscience; ethics, history and public policy
SIT Kenya: Public Health in the Tropics Internship
I have since broadened the scope of my academic interests to include global health and development.
"I picked my research topic after working in different HIV care units at a major hospital in Kisumu, Kenya. The nurses who I worked with mentioned that the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted the HIV services they normally provide; therefore, I decided to center my research on understanding which specific services and populations had been most affected. This experience of working and doing research in Kenya led me to reconsider the scope of my future work and career. I was interested in public health, but I have since broadened the scope of my academic interests to include global health and development. Recently, I became a Thomas R. Pickering Fellow and will be pursuing studies in International Development and Global Health in the near future."
Mitigating Water Pollution at Lake Thingvallavatn
Major: environmental studies; minor: mathematics
SIT Iceland: Renewable Energy, Technology & Resource Economics
I was wondering if the implementation of zero liquid discharge technology would be more economical in Iceland than in the United States.
"In this research, I learned that in the United States, zero liquid discharge technology can be prohibitively expensive because it requires a lot of energy. Due to Iceland's geology, energy in Iceland is renewable, abundant, and cheap. Therefore, I was wondering if the implementation of zero liquid discharge technology would be more economical in Iceland than in the United States. With the global market in zero liquid discharge growing, I was wondering why there has not been any zero liquid discharge technology implemented in Iceland, especially given the compatibility of Iceland's energy resources and the technology. To investigate this question, I conducted a feasibility study on implementing zero liquid discharge technology at the Nesjavellir power plant to mitigate downstream water pollution at Lake Thingvallavatn.
Sequester My Carbon
Major: environmental engineering
SIT Iceland: Climate Change and the Arctic
Studying abroad was the equivalent of growing up three years in three months.
"Studying abroad was the equivalent of growing up three years in three months. It got me to [cross] the country of Iceland, snorkel between the tectonic plates, ice climb a receding glacier, and produce research that I will be proud of for the rest of my life. Now that my college career is coming to a close, I am trying to secure an engineering position in Colorado. It would further fuel my love for the outdoors and for travel."
Desert Sun and Razor Wire: The Moroccan route from Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe
The College of Wooster
Majors: global and international studies, and French and Francophone studies; minor: Middle Eastern and North African studies
SIT Morocco: Multiculturalism and Human Rights
My research topic is heavily influenced by my experiences ...
"My research topic is heavily influenced by my experiences with SIT Rabat. I graduated last semester and am looking to start a career in human rights."
Ecological Futures from the Páramo: Resistance against extractivism and just transition visions in Cuenca,
Majors: government and legal studies, and environmental studies; minor: Hispanic studies
SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages
... this research completely changed how I conceive of climate justice ...
"My previous experience with climate activism in the U.S. led me to investigate resistance to mining and demands for a just ecological future in Cuenca. In turn, this research completely changed how I conceive of climate justice, challenging me to think globally and more deeply understand the connection between colonialism and climate change. I am so grateful for my friends and mentors in Cuenca and will carry the lessons I learned from rural communities and urban activists in future advocacy and climate policy work."
Hannah M Rethmeier
Yachay Kawsay: A Multilingual intercultural education project in Loja, Ecuador
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Majors: Spanish and international economics
SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages
I did not know I was passionate about [this topic] until I had the support and advising of the program directors ...
"My research topic came out of the woodwork as something I did not know I was passionate about until I had the support and advising of the program directors in my program. My grandparents grew up only speaking Czech, and I feel I severely missed out on a cultural aspect because they lost the language in Nebraska's English public schools. How can I prevent that for Spanish-speaking migrants today? I plan to get a master's in child development to take the first steps of this journey that wouldn't have been possible without this project."
The Inambari Dam: Destruction or Development? The fears that motivated a successful resistance movement
Major: culture and politics with a concentration on water, work, and displacement
SIT Peru: Indigenous Peoples and Globalization
[T]he case of Inambari provides answers—or at least crumbs of answers—to the million-dollar question: What permits an environmental justice movement to succeed?
"The Inambari Dam Resistance Movement was a fascinating microcosm for studying hydroelectric dam resistance. I set out to study the movement because it provides an apt case study for exposing why local populations find dams to be so problematic and why they find the label of 'clean energy' to be so antonymic to their experience of hydropower. More importantly, though, as one of seldom dam resistance movements to succeed, the case of Inambari provides answers—or at least crumbs of answers—to the million-dollar question: What permits an environmental justice movement to succeed?
"I interviewed those involved in the resistance movement because I wanted to understand from local perspectives the relationship between mega-development projects, the environment, the rights of Indigenous communities and peasants, and social movements against these projects. I also wanted to elevate the voices of these leaders because they demonstrate the nuances of this issue that tend to be over-simplified when summarized by news excerpts. Their perspective demonstrates that at the root of the conflict over the Inambari dam is a fundamental—and intentional—misunderstanding of what development is and who it should benefit. My background research on the debate around Inambari informed my research questions: why the Inambari dam was perceived as something harmful instead of as development? And, to what extent did awareness of the potential damage from the dam help the resistance?"
The Millennium Promise: An exploration of local attitudes towards the impacts of the Millennium Villages Project through women’s perspectives
University of Notre Dame
Majors: political science and social entrepreneurship and innovation
SIT Rwanda: Post-Genocide Restoration and Peace-building
My study abroad experience also encouraged me to develop my business skills to work with social entrepreneurs ...
"Having the privilege to meet with this incredible group of women who make up a weaving cooperative in Rwanda, I wanted to focus my research on how they have navigated international development projects, confronting patriarchal norms, peace-building, and empowering one another. This women's weaving cooperative reinforced my interest in learning how grassroots initiative can empower communities, and how empowering women positively impacts the rest of the community. My study abroad experience also encouraged me to develop my business skills to work with social entrepreneurs in the future to work toward sustainable change and explore how we can better foster a collaborative relationship between international and local individuals."
Where Can Dalits Belong?: Space, place, resources, mobility, and resistance
Major: urban and environmental policy
SIT Nepal: Development, Gender, and Social Change in the Himalaya
[I] hope to conduct research on the formation of community, sense of belonging, and the intersections of identity.
"My research came about when I was studying abroad with SIT Nepal: Development, Gender, and Social Change in the Himalaya. I wanted to learn more about the South Asian caste system and particularly about those that are affected by it. I'm currently in the process of applying to graduate programs for Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies with the hope to conduct research on the formation of community, sense of belonging, and the intersections of identity."
A Displaced People: The history, displacement, and development initiatives of the Batwa Pygmy tribe in Bundibugyo District, Uganda
The George Washington University
Major: international affairs with a concentration in international development
Uganda: Global Development Studies
... a United Nations escort dropped me off in the western Ugandan jungle where I eventually became a trusted friend of the Pygmy tribal king.
"Being raised in a south Texas border town, I've always admired regions with unique customs and culture. That served as my inspiration for researching a topic in an area different from the norm. All I had to say was 'I'd like to learn about a Pygmy tribe,' and my academic director gave me the contacts to make that work. After difficulty traveling to my research destination because of dangerous roads, a United Nations escort dropped me off in the western Ugandan jungle where I eventually became a trusted friend of the Pygmy tribal king. This experience encouraged me to keep being adventurous and chase after what excites me. Since then, I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, and will be spending my 2023 spring semester in a fully immersive exchange program in Santiago, Chile, taking courses in international relations and Spanish."
Using Remote Sensing Technologies in Relocating Lubra Village and Visualizing Flood Damages
Majors: computer science, data science, and cognitive science
Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples
I witnessed the potential of weaving empathy into engineering ...
"With six years of formal studies in computer, data, and cognitive science, I challenge my beliefs by immersing in new cultures and experiences, all while considering my role as an engineer. It's in travel and cultural exchange that I find the most fulfilling and transformative experiences, and inspiration to break down what it means to be both an engineer and conservationist in global and dynamic contexts. While conducting this work in Nepal, I witnessed the potential of weaving empathy into engineering by considering not only my own western positionality, but what it means to be an conservation engineer in these spaces. Pursuing this revelation, I aspire to develop non-invasive and culturally sensitive conservation technology for environmental conservation and cultural preservation."