Scholarship on Global Engagement

The Center for Research on Global Engagement seeks to facilitate and showcase innovative scholarship on global engagement. Recent Elon faculty, staff, and student research collaborations are highlighted here.

Faculty Scholarship

Paula DiBiasio

Photo of Paula DiBiasioPaula DiBiasio, assistant professor, Doctor of Physical Therapy Education (DPTE) and coordinator for DPTE Global Learning Opportunities program received CRGE grant funds to support her multisite study assessing the intercultural competence of DPT students and alumni at Elon and other DPT programs nationally.

The School of Health Sciences started the Global Learning Opportunities (GLO) program in 2012 with the early objective of building culturally unique, high impact academic experiences for SoHS students. The Department of Physical Therapy Education has GLO programs in 7 countries and the US. All of the global programs are imbedded in existing didactic or clinical education courses and are credit bearing. Given the newness of these programs, Paula’s primary research question is: Via DPTE GLOs, are students learning/developing intercultural competence? Are we moving graduates closer toward the “global citizens” we desire to support? How do we know if we are accomplishing our goals?

In graduate education, global learning experiences are growing rapidly especially in healthcare. In order to achieve the development of culturally competent physical therapists many DPT programs have added global learning experiences to their curriculum however little is known about the impact of these initiatives. Identifying variables that contribute to high value global learning experiences leading tobest practices for engaging in global health initiatives, that result in the greatest gains in intercultural competence, is an anticipated outcome of this research. Findings from this research will also guide academic program development, validation, and allocation of resources for DPT programs nationally. Outcomes of this work will provide evidence for the establishment and advocacy of best practices in DPT global education.

Steve DeLoach and Mark Kurt

Photos of Steve DeLoach and Mark KurtElon University Economics professors Steve DeLoach and Mark Kurt are conducting research on the impact of short-term study abroad (STSA) courses on students’ global awareness, in collaboration with Neal Olitsky, a colleague from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The authors recently published an article in the Journal of Teaching in International Business entitled “Does content matter? Analyzing the change in global awareness between business and non-business-focused short-term study abroad courses.” DeLoach, Kurt, and Olitsky found that short-term study abroad (STSA) coursework is correlated with global awareness, replicating prior research findings such as the work of Kurt, Olitsky and Geis in a paper published in 2013 in Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad. In a more surprising twist, they establish that the type of STSA course may make a difference in the relative gains students experience across the different global awareness factors. For example, students who initially have low levels of awareness of global interdependence show evidence of greater gains in awareness after participating in business-related STSA programs as compared with non-business programs.

In related on-going research, DeLoach and Kurt are currently studying the effect of congruence between student’s college major and the STSA content on global awareness.

Nina Namaste and Amanda Sturgill

Photos of Nina Namaste and Amanda SturgillNina Namaste, Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of World Languages and Cultures, and Amanda Sturgill, Associate Professor of Communications at Elon University, are co-leading the 2015-2017 Center for Engaged Learning (CEL) Research Seminar on Integrating Global Learning with the University Experience: Higher-Impact Study Abroad and Off-Campus Domestic Study. They are joined by co-leaders Neal Sobania, editor of the book Putting the Local in Global Education (2015), and Mick Vande Berg, lead editor and author of Student Learning Abroad: What Our Students are Learning, What They’re Not, and What We Can Do About It (2012). This three-summer research seminar facilitates multi-institutional research on study abroad and off-campus domestic study as integrated global learning practices. Visit to find out more information about the seminar.

Nina’s research focuses on food imagery in contemporary Spanish, Mexican, Argentine, and Chilean literature, as well as (gender) identity issues, globalization, pedagogy, and assessment. Nina’s work as a Teagle Scholar included a project that evaluated students’ intercultural competency skills during semester-long study abroad experiences.

Amanda’s research interest is in the intersection of service and internship experiences with off-campus study. In collaboration with Phillip Motley, also an Associate Professor of Communications at Elon University, and with others, she has published work on preparation for off-campus study, effective use of reflection during off-campus study and learning ethics in a professional program with an off-campus component in journals such as Journalism and Mass Communication, Teaching Journalism and Mass Communication, Communication Teacher and Teaching and Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal. She has presented work at the International Association for Research in Service-Learning and Civic Education annual meeting and the Conference on Applied Learning in Higher Education, as well as the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, where her co-authored work won an association-wide award.

Michael Carignan

Photo of Michael CarignanAssociate Professor of History Michael Carignan is conducting research on students’ intercultural awareness, in conjunction with the development and implementation of a first-year Honors course to Turkey. Mike has evaluated an end-of-course reflection assignment that asks students to consider the effectiveness of the oft-used paradigm of East vs. West to describe the many things they saw and studied in Turkey. His findings indicate that the course offered the opportunity that a few students followed to critically engage the nature of perception and the cultural constructs that enable and shape it. These levels of engagement seem to align with the desired features of inter-cultural competence in which students learn to “shift cultural perspectives.” The fact that not all students achieved this level indicates, probably, the need for more deliberate “intervention” in future versions of the course, especially in the pre-departure courses. With Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Research on Global Engagement, and Danielle Deavens, an Honors Fellow in the Class of 2016, Mike has presented these findings along with survey data of the participating students’ global mindedness at two meetings of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.  He is also a participant in the 2015-2017 Center for Engaged Learning (CEL) Research Seminar on Integrating Global Learning with the University Experience: Higher-Impact Study Abroad and Off-Campus Domestic Study.

Sarah Glasco

Photo of Sarah GlascoThanks to a two-year, multi-institutional Global Research Seminar sponsored by Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning (CEL), Associate Professor of French Sarah Glasco  is currently investigating what factors contribute to the transformation of Study Abroad/Study Away faculty leaders to positively impact them, their students and institutions. She is collaborating on this research with four other faculty members around the country. Their project takes the global learning imperative, which is widely embraced in higher education (Horn & Fry, 2013; Promise, 2007; Twombly, Salisbury, Tumanut, & Klute, 2012) as its point of departure. While students develop as global citizens in many ways via courses with international content, study abroad programs are the most frequently cited method. Recent scholars (Ramirez, 2013; Sobania, 2015b) have encouraged a more inclusive consideration of domestic, off-campus study programs alongside international experiences. While numerous studies have considered study abroad and student outcomes, relatively little attention has been paid to the faculty members who lead these programs. Given that global programs are of high strategic value to many institutions, costly, and exact a heavy opportunity cost; it is critical that institutions understand this phenomenon, its benefits, and liabilities in greater depth. Their mixed methods study investigates the experiences of faculty members who lead global programs at select private liberal arts colleges. They seek to understand the motivations and experiences of global program faculty so that they can identify the factors that contribute to the positive transformation of students, institutions, and faculty members’ teaching, research, and service. The study is informed by two theoretical models: Mezirow and Taylor’s transformative learning theory and Kolb’s model of experiential learning.

Sarah also created and co-teaches a winter term course abroad and its pre-departure course with Elon Senior Lecturer, LD Russell. Entitled “Eat, Pray, Love: Sacred Space and the Place of Religion in 21st Century France,” this interdisciplinary course explores both historical and current notions of sacred space and perceptions of religious experience in French culture through the palate of gastronomy, art, architecture, and popular music. In so doing, students examine France’s paradoxical relationship to itself and study this country’s shifts in national identity vis-à-vis organized religion due to decolonization and immigration during the last century. This course and her previous experience leading students and teaching abroad for a year in Montpellier, France through UNC-Chapel Hill was the catalyst for several of Sarah’s recent global research initiatives. She co-presented on the transformative potential of short-term study abroad at the Transformative Learning Conference in Oklahoma City in March 2015 with Elon Associate Professor of Spanish, Nina Namaste, and co-facilitated a workshop on the same topic with Elon Associate Professor of English, Prudence Layne, at Elon’s annual Teaching and Learning Conference on Designing Engaged Learning Experiences in August 2015. She also published an article entitled “Preparing Undergraduates for Research& Projects in Faculty-led Short-term Study Abroad Courses” in CURQuarterly Cur-Q on the Web 34.5 (Winter 2014). These three experiences treated questions regarding how students can engage meaningfully in a culture and have transformative learning experiences abroad when they are only in the host country for a matter of weeks. What is the role of faculty preparation and intervention in informing and promoting students’ transformation? Sarah discussed in her article and stressed at the conferences that while research suggests that regression and decline in intercultural competence after study abroad occur in some students, and that many others simply experience another culture in a vacuum (Rexeisen 2013, 169-70),  she seeks to offer and welcome ideas on precisely how transformative learning may be accomplished during short-term study abroad experiences in particular.

In closing, Sarah was the “freak” of her high school, taking two languages at once (French and German). She studied Italian in college and then Spanish in graduate school, with a supporting program to her PhD in Romance Languages in Contemporary Hispanic Literature. She has studied and lived abroad herself in West Germany in high school and in France when she was 18. Both times she lived with host families. She was also the resident assistant for UNC-Chapel Hill’s Year in Montpellier Program and a lecturer at Université Paul Valéry during that year abroad, so she has first-hand experience abroad not just as a student and resident assistant, but also a tax-paying employee and faculty leader and professor of short-term programs at Elon.


Student Scholarship

Nosipho Shangese

Photo of Nosipho ShangeseNosipho Shangese received one of the first CRGE Faculty Mentored Undergraduate Research grants in the Fall of 2015.  She worked with faculty mentor Lucinda Austin to research the development of a youth skills program to be implemented in a South African community, Kwa-Zulu Natal in KwaNdengezi township. Through a community-based participatory research approach involving surveys, interviews, and focus groups in KwaNdengezi, she asked the following questions:  1) what are community and youth needs related to youth skills development programs, 2) what conditions are necessary for a program to be adopted and sustained within the community, and 3) how do community leaders, parents, and youth view these programs?  This research formed the basis for a recommended skills development program aimed at empowering youth in the community with regard to academic and health-related competence. Nosipho continued her research in the summer, and presented at the 2016 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience poster session.

Elisson Adrien

Photo of Elisson AdrienIn fall 2015, Elisson and mentor David Vandermast received a CRGE grant to conduct research on the ways that rural Haitians use medicinal plants. Elisson is from Layaye, Haiti and used that as one of his study sites. He also had experience working with a former Elon student, John McGreevy, in a small town on the coast of western Haiti called Anse Rouge which he used as his second site. Elisson conducted this research in December 2015 and January 2016.

Elisson interviewed 40 rural Haitians (10 in Layaye and 30 in Anse Rouge), tallying hundreds of data points for plants used for medicinal purposes, the parts of plants that were used, the ailments they treated, their preparation, and their administration. He interviewed lay people as well as some who were considered “healers” and for whom knowledge of plant medicines was their trade. Perhaps most importantly, Elisson found that around 2/3 of rural Haitians said they would use traditional plant medicine before going to the hospital. About 30% of all interviewees said they would only use traditional medicine and would never go to the hospital.

Elisson presented preliminary results of his study at SURF in Spring 2016. His data indicate that most plants used for medicine are trees, most plant parts are leaves, the most common ailment plant medicines are used for is fever, plant medicines are most often boiled, and they are most often consumed. Continuing studies of the medicinal compounds of the plants and the interviews with community participants are in progress.