Enhancing Education

Graduate Student Funding

IDN provides support for graduate student research opportunities aligning with the research and programmatic agendas of The Carter Center’s Peace and Health programs. Through IDN’s graduate student funding, students gain invaluable learning experiences in the field with a Carter Center program and develop skills that make them workforce ready upon graduation. Due to its strong relationship with The Carter Center, IDN cultivates opportunities for research and programmatic work with Carter Center programs staff. In addition, graduate and professional school students assist IDN and The Carter Center with the planning and implementation of seminars, conferences, and working groups, and capacity strengthening projects.

Graduate Student and Faculty Funding

IDN Infographic

Jian Xu

Doctoral student, Political Science Graduate Program

Jian Xu headshotRecipient of the IDN pre-dissertation funding to use ELMO for field research, summer 2018

Xu used the open source data collection method ELMO/NEMO as he conducted his field research in China, examining corruption in developing countries. In response to transnational bribery, a variety of international anti-corruption initiatives have been put in place including the United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Xu’s research examines whether transnational anti-bribery enforcement, represented by the FCPA, can effectively deter corrupt changes or even lead to institutional and policy changes.

Abigail Heller

Doctoral student, Political Science Graduate Program

Abigail Heller headshot2018-2019 recipient of the ELMO Initiative Graduate Fellowship

An Atlanta native, Heller is a doctoral student in the Political Science Program. Her dissertation explores three topics: public opinion about gerrymandering in the United States; how people’s experience with different electoral systems in the UK affects their support for reform; and why party members are willing to support reform when it negatively impacts their chances of being reelected, using a historical case in the UK. Heller’s interest in the political process began at a young age and was reinforced when she was awarded a grant to travel to London to conduct independent research on electoral reform in Britain as part of her bachelor’s degree program at Franklin and Marshall College.

Travis Benjamin Curtice

Doctoral Student, Political Science Graduate Program

Travis Benjamin Curtice headshot

2017-2018 recipient of the ELMO Initiative Graduate Fellowship

Travis Benjamin Curtice is a doctoral student in the Political Science graduate program. In August 2017, he worked as an analyst for the Carter Center’s election observation mission in Kenya led by John Kerry and Dr. Aminata Touré.

With experience working in Bosnia, India, Uganda, and Kenya, his research explores several areas of political science and development including such topics as human rights, state repression, conflict, international political economy, and comparative political economy of development. His dissertation project focuses on the challenges of policing in multiethnic societies and how an autocrat’s decision to stack or mix his internal security apparatus affects patterns of targeted and indiscriminate repression. Read more.

Anna Grace Tribble

Graduate Student, Master’s in Public Health
Doctoral Student, Anthropology Graduate Program

Anna Grace Tribble

Recipient of the IDN pre-dissertation funding to use ELMO for field research, summer 2017

As a recipient of the IDN predissertation funding to use ELMO for field research in summer 2017, Anna Grace Tribble will spend six weeks in Iraqi Kurdistan to research food security and mental health among internally displaced women. The aim of the pilot project is to explore the local food environment, focusing on the prevalence of food insecurity and depression/anxiety among internally displaced Kurdish and Arab women in Slemani, Iraqi Kurdistan. During a trip to Iraq Tribble learned that food access is one key aspect of life that is disrupted for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Tribble notes that currently many NGOs are debating the best way to help IDPs: “food aid or cash.” Tribble also adds that culturally appropriate food aid can act as a buffer, allowing communities to preserve important aspects of their home culture through the day-to-day routines of the kitchen. However, cash aid provides more autonomy for household decision making and encourages displaced people to engage with their new community in the marketplace. Moving forward, Tribble hopes to better understand the specific diet of families receiving these different forms of aid, as well as the impact of those diets on mental and physical health outcomes, specifically among Iraqi Arab and Kurdish women displaced by ISIS. Read more.

Rukshan Mehta

Doctoral Student, Nutrition and Health Science Graduate Program

Rukshan Mehta

Recipient of the IDN pre-dissertation funding to use ELMO for field research, summer 2017

Rukshan Mehta is one of two recipients of IDN predissertation funding to use ELMO for field research in summer 2017. Mehta will spend 10 weeks to research food systems exposure pathways and contamination with mycotoxins (cancer causing fungal toxins) and pesticides in rural Haryana, India. Mehta’s aim is to map exposure routes in local food supplies at the household and community level. ELMO will allow Mehta to use GIS technology to collect epidemiological data to further enhance qualitative work with communities on routes of exposure. Read more.


Rachel A. Harmon

Doctoral student, Political Science Graduate Program

Rachel A. Harmon

Recipient of the IDN pre-dissertation funding to use ELMO for field research, summer 2016

Rachel Harmon spent three weeks at the border of Nepal and India to set up a system to collect data on the trafficking of women and girls. Free for Life International (FFLI), an NGO working to eliminate the human trafficking of women and girls, invited Harmon to lead a project to redraft surveys given to possible sex- trafficking victims by border- monitoring staff. The survey used ELMO and help determine its capacity to collect and analyze data on human trafficking. Read more.

Siti Sarah Muwahidah

Doctoral student, Graduate Division of Religion

Siti Sarah Muwahidah

2016-2017 recipient of the ELMO Initiative Graduate Fellowship

Originally from Indonesia, Muwahidah is a doctoral student in the Graduate Division of Religion. She sees herself a scholar-activist concentrating on religion in West and South Asia. Her research focuses on Sunni and Shia conflict and coexistence in Indonesia. Muwahidah’s dissertation, “For the Love of Ahl al-Bayt: Negotiating Shi’ism in Indonesia,” explores how Indonesian Shiites and Sunnis attempt to reduce the discord between the two communities in their everyday lives. She also examines how the religious defamation law of Indonesia (UUno.1/PNPS/1965), which is often used to justify the discrimination and persecution of religious minorities, often trumps the Indonesian constitution’s protection of religious freedom. Read more.

Kathy Trang

Doctoral student, Anthropology Graduate Program

Kathy Trang

Recipient of the IDN pre-dissertation funding to use ELMO for field research, summer 2016

Kathy Trang spent three months in Hanoi, Vietnam conducting research on migrant male sex workers. She worked with the public health team at Song Hanh Phuc, a collaborating HIV/AIDS clinic at Hanoi Medical University. As Hanoi experienced rapid economic growth, men moved to this area to uphold their traditional role of being pillars of the family. Lacking the skills to compete in this new economy, some were driven into sex work. Because sex work is negatively viewed, they have become marginalized and stigmatized. Trang’s pilot study used ELMO and My Tracks, an Android GPS logger, to examine the marginalization of male sex workers in Hanoi. Read more.

Nicole Devereaux

Rollins School of Public Health, Master in Public Health

Nicole Devereaux

New fellowship showcases collaboration between IDN, LGS, and The Carter Center.

Nicole Devereaux spent the summer of 2015 working with The Carter Center Ethiopia office collecting and analyzing data for sanitation and hygiene education. Nicole’s research contributed to The Carter Center’s study of Behavior Change Communications for Education (BCCE) aimed at eliminating trachoma by 2020.

Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection found in poor, isolated communities lacking basic hygiene, clean water, and adequate sanitation. It is easily spread from person to person through eye-seeking flies, hands, and clothes. Repeated infection leads to scarring and inward turning of the eyelid — a very painful condition called trichiasis — eventually causing blindness if left untreated.  Trachoma can be found in over 50 countries, most in Africa and the Middle East, and a few countries in the Americas and Asia. Globally, 232 million people are at risk for trachoma, and over 4 million are at immediate risk for blindness from trichiasis. Through its Trachoma Control Program established in 1998, The Carter Center has a trachoma target elimination date of 2020.  Ethiopia still has the highest known prevalence of trachoma in the world, and the Amhara Regional National State has the highest known prevalence within Ethiopia.  

In February 2015, The Carter Center’s Trachoma Control Program piloted a study in the Amhara Regional National State of Ethiopia to evaluate opportunities for the program to better address facial cleanliness and environmental improvement. The goal of the study was to provide insights and understanding about the barriers and challenges people in the region face in regards to latrine use and facial cleanliness. In June 2015, Nicole joined the study team in Ethiopia for final data collection and analysis. The study surveyed households in all 10 zones of the Amhara region and conducted focus group discussions with teachers, students, community leaders, women’s health group leaders, and health workers. The study’s findings are contributing to the revision of education materials for primary schools.

Photo: Sekota, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Photo: Sekota, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Nicole’s findings included the following:

  • Trachoma is not covered in the region’s primary school curriculum before grade five and hygiene and sanitation instruction are limited.
  • Traditional community beliefs about smoke, dust, and crying as causes of trachoma paired with potentially harmful treatments of trachoma, including eyelash plucking and cutting of the eyelid, confirm the need for a comprehensive educational approach to facial cleanliness and environmental improvement.
  • While the act of face washing is reported as part of daily routines at the household level, many people cited they do not always wash their face daily due to too much work and fatigue at the end of the day.
  • Photo: Sekota, Amhara Region, EthiopiaStigma towards being “too clean,” especially for women – an idea described most often among women’s group members suggesting that overly clean women were not performing their household, and potentially marital duties as they should be - was also uncovered in the data analysis. 
  • Additional barriers to face washing include infrastructure issues such as availability of soap and water.
  • The study also found that there is broad understanding about the health benefits of using latrines and regular face washing.

Photo: Sekota Zuria, Outside School Compound       

Outcomes from her research:

Preliminary findings were presented to colleagues at The Carter Center office in Ethiopia in August 2015.  Information about teachers’ needs for training and materials were presented at a workshop for education officials, teachers, principals, and health care workers at the end of July 2015 in Sekota Town in the Amhara region. This workshop had two purposes: 1)  to show the burden of trachoma and the need from the teachers for new materials specific to trachoma, sanitation, and hygiene; 2) to get feedback and buy-in on some of the grade specific lesson plans being developed.

Materials created with The Carter Center assistance are currently used as a co-curricular guide, or as a supplement to the official curriculum.  However, the lessons need to be included in the official curriculum in order to ensure that they are regularly taught, a desire expressed by many teachers expressed during the focus groups. Including information about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the official curriculum would be a big step towards the elimination of NTDs and the hygiene and sanitation behaviors that play into their transmission.

The education approach cannot address the infrastructure needs for hygiene and sanitation behaviors to take place. The school education component relies on the existence and upkeep of a latrine within households and a constant supply and availability of clean water.


Photo: Sekota Zuria 4th grade

Next Steps:

The revision and development of co-curricular materials is in process. Developing appropriate visual aids to accompany the lessons has proved to be a key part of the design process. A final approval and translation process took place in December 2015. The integration of the research analysis and education material development process helped to ensure that all misconceptions and barriers found in the research are addressed in the education materials. 

Monitoring and evaluation tools for the revised teaching materials are also underway. The process for collecting baseline sanitation and hygiene data at the school, and community level requires conversations with all stakeholders involved at every level. The workshop previously mentioned made a first attempt to engage government and school officials from different levels into thinking through the data collection stream as well as the measures for the data to be collected.  Pilot testing of all tools is currently underway in the Amhara Region as of March 2016.  

Study team Ethiopia

Photo: Study team at Lalibela churches

Click here to learn more about The Carter Center’s Tracoma Control Program

Grant Buckles, PhD Student in Political Science

Laney Graduate School, 2015

Grand Buckles

New fellowship showcases collaboration between IDN, LGS, and The Carter Center.

We are pleased to announce that Grant Buckles is the recipient of the inaugural ELMO Initiative Graduate Fellowship for the 2015-2016 academic year. The fellowship is sponsored by the Institute for Developing Nations, Emory’s Laney Graduate School, and The Carter Center’s Democracy Program, and involves working with ELMO, The Carter Center’s open-source election monitoring data collection and reporting system (more information at http://getelmo.org). The fellow will be a resource on the ELMO tool for the Emory community; coordinate a speaker/discussion series exploring research on assessing and measuring election quality; and participate in sessions on the methodological and technological design of election monitoring tools and data.

The first ELMO Initiative Fellow, Grant Buckles, is a PhD student in Political Science in the Laney Graduate School. He specializes in the study of elections, political parties, and political mobilization in the developing world. His dissertation analyzes the role of opposition mobilization and organizational development in bringing about more competitive elections. While at Emory, Grant has conducted field research in South Africa. He has also been an instructor and teaching assistant for classes on political mobilization in hybrid regimes, comparative politics, and research methods. He graduated from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and French Language & Literature.

Elena Derkits, MD/MPH Candidate

School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health, 2014

Elena Derkits

This past summer, Emory University MD/MPH student Elena Derkits had the opportunity to conduct research as part of The Carter Center’s Mental Health-Liberia Program. Derkits, whose academic and professional interests include the expansion of access to health care and the integration of mental health and primary care, was the most recent recipient of IDN’s graduate student learning grant, which facilitates experiential learning as part of IDN’s goal of enhancing graduate education.

For Derkits, who spent seven weeks in Monrovia, her interest in mental health grew out of her experiences as a research assistant at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, coursework in the MPH program, and clinical rotations in medical school. These experiences gave her a better understanding of the often-underestimated relationship between medical and mental illnesses, and motivated her to become a primary care provider for patients with serious mental illness. Recently, IDN interviewed Derkits about her research, future plans, and what she saw on the ground as the Ebola crisis unfolded in Liberia.

IDN: Can you describe the work you did with The Carter Center’s Mental Health-Liberia Program this summer?

I had the opportunity to evaluate mental-health clinicians’ use of technology in practice, with the purpose of understanding the motivations, challenges, and barriers to successful use of their laptops and patient-encounter reporting software. I was responsible for assisting in the development of the surveys and interview guides for this project. I also helped administer the survey and conducted the interviews at an in-service training for practicing mental-health clinicians. I then helped summarize the findings, which are currently being prepared for publication. Unfortunately, the other two projects I planned to conduct were interrupted when I was evacuated due to the worsening Ebola crisis.

IDN: What are your future research and professional plans as they relate to your work this summer?

I intend to pursue an integrated residency in internal medicine and psychiatry so that I may provide primary-care services for patients with serious mental illness. I also intend to continue to be involved in research and advocacy for the development of systems that deliver quality health care to patients with mental illness, both in the United States and internationally. Working with The Carter Center’s Mental Health- Liberia Program gave me the unique opportunity to observe the impact that a nationwide system of integrated mental health and primary care can have in a country with extremely limited resources. Although the Ebola crisis undeniably has illustrated the overwhelming obstacles that the health care system in Liberia faces, The Carter Center’s Mental Health Program has made great strides in expanding access to mental health care in a country that had only one psychiatrist, one specialized mental health facility, and an estimated prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder of 44 percent. I can only imagine that, in the wake of this new tragedy, that need will be even greater.

Med students in Liberia

IDN: At what point did you understand the gravity of the Ebola crisis? How were you personally affected?

The significance of the outbreak and its influence on me personally changed dramatically during the course of the seven weeks that I was in Monrovia. When I first arrived, there were only 22 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases in the entire country, and only seven cases in or near Monrovia, according to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The week that I was evacuated, every county in the country was affected, the WHO declared the outbreak a Grade 3 Emergency, and President [Ellen Johnson] Sirleaf announced the National Action Plan that shut down all nonessential government activity. Front Page Africa called it “the dark week,” when 173 new cases and 94 deaths were declared, and civil unrest and violence began to break out. The news and the sense of urgency from everyone around me seemed to escalate from hour to hour that week.

As part of my research, I spent a lot of time talking to the mental-health clinicians who were also primary health-care workers. At some point, almost every clinician I interacted with seemed to be bereaved—everyone had a colleague, friend, or family member who was sick or dead. Toward the end of my time in Liberia, the topic permeated every conversation. The government insisted that there were enough personal protective equipment kits (PPEs) in the country for all health workers to protect themselves, but clinicians told me a very different story. Even if what the government reported were true, there was a breakdown in the supply chain, because the PPEs were not getting to the clinicians who needed them. Someone asked me, "What would you do if your husband was a nurse?" I replied that as a clinician-in-training, if I weren’t given the equipment to protect myself, then I couldn't protect my patients or my family, so I wouldn't go to work.

Then there were the subtle behavioral changes over time. When I first arrived in Liberia, everyone greeted me with a warm handshake. I practiced my Liberian "snap" with everyone I could. Strangers and new friends alike would hold my hands in theirs as they spoke to me. Over time, people stopped offering their hands or taking mine. When I visited the psychiatric hospital during what would be my final week in Monrovia, a patient looked at me and began extending her hand in greeting. Everyone around us exclaimed, "No touching!"        

Despite the fact that my research was cut short and that I now closely follow the news of the outbreak daily with a heavy heart, I continue to be grateful for my experience in Liberia. I had a truly once-in-a- lifetime adventure, and in spite of the tragic lens through which I view it now, I am eager to return. The Carter Center’s Mental Health Program is doing great and important work, and it was an honor to be able to contribute to it in some small way. As I continue my training in the field of mental health, my hope is that I someday will be able to return to Liberia and continue to study and support the growth and development of the mental health care system there.

Sabrina Karim, PhD Student in Political Science

Laney Graduate School, 2015

Erin Bernstein

Graduate and Professional Students Research Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Liberia

Understanding sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) requires collaboration across a range of academic fields as well as different sectors such as justice, security, health, and economic development. This is certainly true in post-conflict Liberia, where efforts to understand and address SGBV have received both national and international attention.

Crossing these kinds of institutional boundaries is not easy. However, this past summer a multidisciplinary team of Emory graduate and professional students had an opportunity to do just that through a series of linked research projects on SGBV in Liberia. Working with IDN, Emory’s Global Health Institute (GHI), and The Carter Center, MPH students Erin Bernstein and Rosalyn Schroeder, and political science PhD student Sabrina Karim, had a summer experience that linked research and practice related to this important social problem.

Under the guidance of professors Pamela Scully in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Rob Stephenson in Global Health, the team designed three interlinked projects focused on two communities in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city. The team collaborated on a mixed-method study using focus groups, in-depth interviews, and surveys in Peace Island and West Point, two communities in Monrovia.

Bernstein looked primarily at the community perceptions about SGBV and available resources, while Karim focused on the security sector with emphasis on female UN peacekeepers, and Schroeder assessed access and availability of health services, including mental health services. After being awarded GHI multidisciplinary team funding, IDN connected the researchers with Carter Center programs addressing SGBV in Liberia. Prior to designing their surveys, Bernstein and Karim met with Tom Crick, associate director of the center’s Conflict Resolution program, to explore possible connections between their research and The Carter Center’s work.

Karim is interested in community perspectives with an emphasis on the security sector. As a Fulbright Scholar in Peru in 2010, she looked at women organizing in Lima’s low-income communities and also at the experiences of female police officers there. As a PhD student in Emory’s Department of Political Science, she was awarded two years of funding from the Folke Bernadotte Academy Working Group on Peacekeeping—part of the Swedish Agency for Peace, Security, and Development—for a cross-national study of female peacekeepers and gender security. In Liberia Karim looked at recruitment strategies for and experiences of female peacekeepers with the United Nations Mission in Liberia.

The team has noted that their preliminary analysis is yielding expected and unexpected results. The West Point community has better access to security services, in part, because police have a post there. Disputes related to loving, debt, and beating were common in both communities. In addition, there was limited women-to-women support for female security forces and peacekeepers. Accessibility and availability of health services were limited and there was a lack of trust between those providing services and those seeking services. Focus-group discussions yielded an interesting perspective on how SGBV presents economic consequences, such as paying bail, child support, and court fees if a family member is charged with or convicted of an SGBV-related crime. Overall, efforts to address SGBV confront numerous institutional challenges associated with lack of infrastructure as well as challenges associated with stigma and deeply rooted beliefs about gender.

A pivotal moment happened just a few short days before the team’s departure. Karim explained,

“The women of Peace Island created a forum a few days before our departure. The highest-ranking military and UNPOL [United Nations Police] women in the UN mission were initially going to be discussing issues related to a quick-impact project, and it turned out that the Peace Island women became the leaders of the discussion about women’s empowerment—demonstrating to the UN women the power of women’s voices in the community. It was amazing to see the women of Peace Island lead such an important meeting as a newly organized group, and to see how engaged the women of the UN mission were.”

Learn more about The Carter Center’s work in Liberia.

Erin Bernstein, MPH Candidate

Rollins School of Public Health, 2012

Erin Bernstein

I spent this past summer in Monrovia, Liberia with a multidisciplinary team consisting of Sabrina Karim (PhD candidate in Political Science) and Rosalyn Schroeder (MPH candidate at Rollins School of Public Health), and supported by the Global Health Institute and Institute for Developing Nations.  We looked at institutional responses to sexual and gender-based violence (civic education, security, health) and identified communities’ perceptions of these responses.  We came in with a research agenda that we’d developed over the course of nine months—before we entered Liberia.

I have spent the past seven years traveling, learning, observing, and exploring the ethical questions of working as an outsider in a community.  Encounters with researchers, development workers, and well-meaning groups of missionaries and students had left me disillusioned and disheartened about working in communities to which one does not belong.  Too often, the assumed benefits of development interventions neglect critical evaluation of individual motives, organizational objectives, donor priorities, and international policies.  Without critical analyses of power structures and the overuse of buzz words, like “capacity-building,” how do we genuinely integrate “beneficiaries” into research and implementation?  Who do we define as experts, and where do they come from?

I left for Monrovia feeling uneasy about the sensitivity of these issues and the hierarchies inherent in global research.  I feared perpetuating these systems with my pre-designed research plan and causing harm to the people I would question.

Approaching the project with intentions of being transparent about my research and concerns, we involved community leaders and members in our research process from the onset, and we revamped our pre-planned research agenda based on their input.  Community members seemed to hold us accountable.  This was the first time I encountered skepticism from a community I was working with—a sentiment that suggested that the people I interacted with knew their country was well-researched; that a strong expat community had emerged in Monrovia in the past four or five years; and that foreigners often came, asked intimate questions, and left, with no indication of how the information would be used.  The people we encountered in West Point and Peace Island communities were explicit with their questions: “Why Liberia?”  “What is the benefit to you?”  “What’s in it for us?”

Erin Bernstein

After getting community leaders’ permission, we consulted them on our questions before implementing surveys and organizing focus groups.  We reshaped our research plans based on their feedback.  Despite our efforts to build trust, I still wondered how our status as Americans (who were able to pay local researchers and compensate focus group participants in a country with a highly underemployed population) affected the relationships we sought to build.

As a student who had just learned these research skills months prior to entering Liberia, I also struggled with the strange authority that came with employing and training Liberians—most of whom were students like me, but some of whom were experienced researchers and demographers and 15-20 years my senior.  I discussed these power dynamics with our Liberian co-researchers.  One of them urged me to recognize that while I yearned to learn from her, she appreciated what she learned from us: a set of research skills her degree program had not provided.  “It’s a partnership,” she told me.  “We are learning from each other.”  But I was still new to research and the skills I had taught her.

During our final week, we organized a community presentation in both West Point and Peace Island.  Attendees included community members (representatives from the community leadership, council of elders, youth group, women's group, and each focus group) and outside guests (representatives from the Carter Center and local and international NGOs).  Our research team explained the purpose of research in general and our project in particular, describing the methodology and why we asked the kinds of questions we asked.  We concluded with a presentation on the preliminary findings and what to expect with the results in the coming months.  Community members took notes and asked thoughtful questions.  NGOs working or preparing to work in West Point and Peace Island interacted with community members.  People expressed gratitude in being able to learn the results (albeit preliminary) before we left the country.

Our project was validated at these meetings, just like it was validated through the permission community leaders had granted us over the course of our three months in Monrovia.  The research process was a positive one, in the sense that I learned that it is possible to do relevant and sensitive research while maintaining (to a degree) the decision-making power of community members. 

But where does one make the distinction between really engaging community members in the research process and simply being transparent about one’s pre-conceived research plans?

During my time in Liberia I came to understand the difficulty in addressing centuries-old power dynamics, particularly in a place settled by freed American slaves.  I learned that I’m still critical of the influence of development agendas on fragile economies, particularly the short-term employment of skilled people (to which I have contributed).  I learned that as much as I wanted West Pointers and Peace Islanders to view me as different from other foreign researchers, there wasn’t much I could do to change my “outsideness.” 

So, what does this mean for those of us who want so badly to do global fieldwork well?  What does this mean for those of us who struggle to balance criticism of and interest in international development?

Erin Bernstein

Halfway through the summer, an American anthropologist advised me, “In order to be at peace with your role or work in this field, you have to let go of the desire to be relevant.”

I understood where she was coming from; idealists can get bogged down in a place’s perceived problems, wanting to “fix” it all.   But if the work isn’t relevant, I am not sure I understand its purpose.

Instead, I think one must let go of the sensed obligation to develop immediate solutions.  I think it’s imperative to be relevant—relevant in a way that is practical and honors one’s expertise, but also relevant in a way that consults community members and actively questions the research process.

So, again, what does this mean for earnest global researchers, like me?  Well, I haven’t quite figured it out.  At the very least, we have the responsibility to engage community members in framing and implementing research.  We also have the responsibility to be transparent and contribute findings to communities themselves, as well as to NGOs and government agencies working in these places.

But is this enough?  Who determines development goals?  Who allocates funding?  Who is designing the research?

And is reflecting on these questions ever enough?

Erin Bernstein is an MPH candidate at the Rollins School of Public Health.  She and her Emory research team are providing early-phase logistical and financial support to new Liberian research firm, the Center for Applied Research and Training (CART).  CART is an accredited Liberian-operated research institute founded by one of the team’s enumerators, Kou Johnson.  The firm seeks to streamline and improve coordination among external research by foreign researchers, while simultaneously training Liberian researchers and facilitating the design and implementation of indigenous research in Liberia.  To learn more, find CART on the web: http://www.cart-liberia.org/, @CARTLiberia.  You can also follow Erin on Twitter: @eebernstein.

Kenneth Maes, PhD Student

Laney Graduate School, 2010

Kenneth Maes was a PhD student in the Anthropology program at the Laney Graduate School and researched the impact of poverty on the use of volunteers to support a major AIDS treatment program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This program, along with many other public health programs in the developing world, triedto stretch meager resources by relying extensively on volunteers to help care for patients. Kenneth’s research brought to the fore some of the problems inherent in this approach, especially in circumstances where access to employment, food and daily necessities is precarious. 

   logo                The Carter Center

IDN General Graduate Funding Working with Carter Center programs

From time to time, opportunities arise for graduate and professional students to work with Carter Center Programs.  Emory University graduate students may apply for IDN funding in order to take advantage of these opportunities which might include but are not limited to, short-term assignments, such as election monitoring, and summer research work that fulfills a programmatic need.  It is expected that students who receive funding will be able to work and function independently in countries where The Carter Center programs operate and that they will make a demonstrable contribution to the center’s work. 

Learn more and apply 

IDN Publication Fund

The goal of the IDN Publication Fund is to foster the dissemination of publications that have resulted from a collaboration between Emory University faculty, staff, and/or students and Emory University affiliates and/or community partners. The fund facilitates the publication of scholarly works by assuming some of the costs associated with publication. To be considered for funding, the publication must address subjects related to peace, health, human rights, and/or development. Priority will be given to Emory faculty, staff or students working with Emory affiliates and/or community partners whose work focuses on the above topics, preferably focusing on under-resourced settings and vulnerable populations across the world, including the US. Priority will also be given to papers first authored by Emory students.

Learn more and apply

IDN Thought Leader Fellowship for Faculty

To broadly promote public discourse on issues related to global development, IDN has partnered with The OpEd Project, by providing Emory faculty a daylong "Write To Change The World" workshop. The OpEd Project has an excellent track record of partnering with universities across the US, helping them channel their best ideas to media gatekeepers, and disseminate these ideas to the broadest audiences. This initiative aims to break storytelling barriers by introducing new voices and fresh ideas, multipliers of Emory work, in local as well as national and international media. Given IDN's commitment to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering, this fellowship will give prominence to unheard stories of the most marginalized people in society, which includes women and people of color, particularly those working in and from the developing world.

Eligibility: Emory faculty of any rank are eligible to participate. Applicants may self-nominate or be nominated by others. There will be four opportunities to participate in one of these seminars over the course of the 2019 calendar year. 

Session Date: Saturday, March 23, 2019  Application Deadline Friday, February 22, 2019
Session Date: Saturday, June 8, 2019  Application Deadline: Friday May 3, 2019

Learn more and apply

IDN ELMO-related Graduate Funding

ELMO is The Carter Center’s open-source ELection MOnitoring data collection and reporting system, specifically designed for low-infrastructure environments. Equipped with ELMO, observers can submit data – via tablets (utilizing Open Data Kit), SMS, or directly online – in real-time to mission headquarters. ELMO’s reporting system organizes observer findings, and is relied upon by The Carter Center missions around the globe to analyze data and to assess elections as well as broader political processes. ELMO is not limited to election observation; it can be used for research in any field of study including conflict, human rights, and health in developing nations to facilitate data collection, analysis, communication, and reporting. For more information about ELMO see http://getelmo.org/.

The ELMO Initiative is a partnership between the Institute for Developing Nations, Emory’s Laney Graduate School, and The Carter Center’s Democracy Program to make ELMO available to students, faculty, and staff at Emory.  Doctoral students who wish to use ELMO for pre-dissertation fieldwork in developing countries may apply for IDN funding.

There are two ELMO-related Graduate Funding opportunities:

ELMO Initiative Graduate Fellowship

This is an annual fellowship for advanced doctoral students in the Laney Graduate School, sponsored by the Institute for Developing Nations, Emory’s Laney Graduate School, and The Carter Center’s Democracy Program.  The fellow will be a resource on the ELMO tool for the Emory community; coordinate a speaker/discussion series exploring research on assessing and measuring election quality; and participate in sessions on the methodological and technological design of election monitoring tools and data. Fellows work approximately 20 hours a week and receive $18,000 stipend for the academic year.

Learn more and apply

ELMO Pre-Dissertation Funding Using ELMO

This summer funding is available for doctoral students in the Laney Graduate School who would like to use ELMO in their pre-dissertation field research. Awards range from $2000 - $3500 depending on the kind of opportunity involved (duration and location of field work).  IDN grants may be combined with other Emory funding as long as total Emory funding does not exceed $5000.  Students may use IDN funds toward the cost of international airfare, housing, food, local transportation, visas and vaccinations.  Students may receive this grant from IDN only once.

Learn more and apply 

News for Past IDN Funding Recipients

Sabrina Karim Wins Prestigious Award for Essay on Women and Conflict

Sabrina Karim

Sabrina Karim, PhD Candidate in Political Science

Laney Graduate School, 2015
IDN GSF 2012 Recipient

Congratulations to Sabrina Karim, who recently won the Naval War College Women and Conflict Outcomes Essay Competition! Amb. Mary Ann Peters, then Provost and now CEO of The Carter Center, worked with the Naval War College Foundation to establish the award “to encourage original and rigorous research on women’s roles in and impact on conflict resolution and peacebuilding.” According to Amb. Peters, “scholarly research such as Sabrina’s deepens our understanding of the dynamics of peacebuilding institutions and the impact women may have on outcomes.” Karim, a doctoral candidate in Emory’s Department of Political Science, was presented with the award at the third annual Women, Peace, and Security Conference, inspired by the 2011 United States National Action Plan of the same name. 

Karim’s award-winning essay, entitled “When Women Serve and Protect in Post-Conflict Countries: Evidence from the Liberian National Police,” can be found here. She is the author of several articles, book chapters, and a forthcoming book entitled Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping: The Need for Gender Equality in the Search for Quality Peace (with Kyle Beardsley). Her research focuses on conflict, security-sector reform, gender, and peacekeeping, and she has won numerous grants and fellowships, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. In 2012 she received support from an IDN Graduate Student Funding grant and an Emory Global Health Institute Field Scholars Award for research in Liberia on the security sector’s capacity to handle crimes of sexual and gender-based violence. Research results from this project were included in a report commissioned by The Carter Center’s Access to Justice in Liberia Program. Prior to attending Emory, Karim also received a Fulbright award to research women in the Peruvian National Police.

Learn more about Karim and other Emory graduate students’ work with The Carter Center - Liberia in the summer of 2012

Read Karim’s biography, and learn more about her research and teaching interests.

Photo: Sabrina Karim receiving award at the Naval War College on April 15, 2015. Rear Admiral P. Gardner Howe, President of the Naval War College; Admiral Michelle Howard Vice Chief of Naval Operations; John Odegaard, Naval War College Foundation

Rebekah Stewart Schicker uses research and experience to combat Malaria and Ebola

Rebekah Stewart Schicker, MPH/MSN

Rollins School of Public Health/Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, 2014
IDN GSF 2013 Recipient

In summer 2013, Rebekah Stewart Schicker received an IDN Graduate Student Funding grant to work with The Carter Center’s Malaria Control Program in Ethiopia. She researched the behaviors, living arrangements, and migration patterns of migrant farm workers in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia with one goal in mind: to accurately assess this population and their health needs in order to better prevent them from getting malaria. Since completing this research, Schicker has worked with her supervisor, Dr. Gregory Noland, an epidemiologist with The Carter Center’s Health Programs, to analyze and disseminate the results. She presented the preliminary findings at the Malaria Annual Review meeting at The Carter Center in February 2014. In November of the same year, she presented a poster with the final results at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene annual conference in New Orleans. Schicker, Noland, and colleagues have prepared a manuscript based on their research and are submitting it for publication. 

In December 2014 Schicker graduated with dual masters’ degrees in nursing and public health.  She immediately went to work with Partners In Health in Liberia as part of the Ebola response and recovery efforts.  In July 2015, she will begin an appointment at the CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer.

Learn more about Schicker and other Emory graduate students’ work with The Carter Center’s Health Programs in Summer 2013.

Top Photo: Rebekah Schicker presenting a poster at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene annual conference in November 2014. The poster displayed the findings of her research on malaria and health needs among migrant farmers in Ethiopia.

Bottom Photo: Schicker teaches on Ebola with Partners In Health in Liberia (2015).

Erin Bernstein pursues her passion for reproductive health access locally and globally

Erin Bernstein, MPH

Rollins School of Public Health, 2013
IDN GSF 2012 Recipient 

Erin Bernstein (MPH '13) is a CDC Foundation health scientist assigned to work with CDC's Division of Reproductive Health on evaluating family planning and emergency obstetric care services in Tanzania, as well as strengthening maternal death surveillance systems in Cameroon. During graduate school, Bernstein worked as a graduate research assistant at CDC's Emergency Response and Recovery Branch, where she monitored CDC's implementation of the United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. This experience built on the knowledge she gained during her summer 2012 IDN-sponsored practicum in Liberia, where she focused on services for women who have experienced sexualized and intimate partner violence in war-affected settings. Both experiences supported her broader interest in women's access to quality reproductive health services as fundamental to women's agency and equality. Outside of work, Bernstein volunteers with the Feminist Women's Health Center, where she is able to use her passion for reproductive justice and reproductive health access locally.

Learn more about Bernstein and other Emory graduate students’ work with The Carter Center- Liberia in Summer 2012

Photo: Erin Bernstein and colleagues in Liberia in 2012.