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

Mussa Idris

Mussa Idris, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, received CRGE grant funds to supportProfile photo of Mussa Idris his study assessing opportunities and challenges of mentoring undergraduate ethnographic research and High Impact Practices in local and global contexts. The title of his current research projects are “Mentoring Undergraduate Students Ethnographic Research and High-Impact Practice in Local and Global Context” and “Refugee Resettlement Experiences from Sub-Saharan Africa to Greensboro, North Carolina.”

Idris has an on-going ethnographic research project in Greensboro, North Carolina, that engages multiple stakeholders, including a refugee resettlement agency, undergraduate students and newly resettled refugee communities. This ethnography aims to inquire and understand the newly resettled refugee communities’ resettlement and integration processes and refugee micro-enterprises in the Triad area, as a pathway to develop a community-based participatory impact assessment.

Amanda Tapler

Profile photo of Amanda TaplerAmanda Tapler, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public Health Studies received a Community of Practice grant to support her study assessing the impact an international public health practicum (PHS 381), at the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP) in Jamkhed, India, has on students’ understanding and development of intercultural humility/ethnocultural empathy.   The results of the study, following the 3-week immersion course at CRHP, revealed significantly higher levels of overall ethnocultural empathy, especially in the areas of Empathetic Feeling and Expression, Empathetic Perspective Taking and Acceptance of Cultural Differences.   In addition to continuing this line of research, Amanda received a Community of Practice grant to support the investigation of undergraduate research in global and diverse contexts in relationship to mentoring and development of intercultural competence.

Jen Hamel

Over the past year, CRGE supported the work of Jen Hamel, Assistant Professor of Biology, and her research student, Elon College Fellow Alina Iwan (Biology ’19) at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. At STRI, Dr. Hamel and her students work with colleagues from several institutions to study behavior and evolution in a diverse group of animals: katydids. In addition to mentoring individual research students, Dr. Hamel also co-teaches an Elon Study Abroad course in Panama (Bio 335, Field Biology Panama) with Dr. David Vandermast. In the CRGE Community of Practice focused on mentoring undergraduate research in global contexts, Dr. Hamel received feedback and peer mentoring from Elon colleagues on her efforts to embed research experiences in this field course.

Michael Carignan

Photo of Michael Carignan

Associate Professor of History Mike Carignan has been conducting research on various aspects of study abroad learning since 2014. One study looks at variables across different short-term study abroad programs from six different institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada.  Focusing on intercultural competence development, the study suggests that trained-instructor interventions and higher amounts of intercultural training activity before departure have positive impact on student development.  The study also finds that certain program features, e.g., whether there is a service-learning component, conditions the in-country intercultural opportunities and possibly the amount of intercultural growth students achieve.  This study grew out of Mike’s participation in a three-year CEL symposium on global learning (2015-17) and the team has presented its findings at the 2016 AAC&U Global Learning conference in Denver, the Elon Symposium on Global Learning in 2017, and at the 2017 ISSOTL conference in Calgary. Several article manuscripts are under review or in development along with a conference presentation at the International Studies Association 2018 annual meeting in San Francisco.

Mike has been leading study abroad programs to Europe for over 15 years, and his interest in systematically studying its impacts on students began when he and Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler developed a new short-term study abroad program for first-year Honors Fellows. Tasked with assessing the new program and the pilot-cohort that went to Turkey in 2013 Mike and Maureen gathered several forms of data from students that indicated various amounts and forms of increasing global awareness, familiarity with the politics and culture of the region, and intercultural competence development.  They have presented their findings at the 2015 ISSOTL in Raleigh and the National Collegiate Honors Council 2016 annual meeting in Seattle and currently have an article manuscript under review.

Paula DiBiasio

Photo of Paula DiBiasio

Paula 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 School of Health Sciences 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 to best 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.

Safia Swimelar

Safia Swimelar, Associate Professor in Political Science and Policy Studies, received grant funds to support her project, entitled: “Creative and Academic Methods of Student Capstone Learning and Study Abroad Integration in International and Global Studies.” She aimed to investigate and analyze the five past iterations of the International and Global Studies senior seminar that she taught. The focus of the research was on the multimedia capstone project, but she also sought to look at the course more broadly. The research goals have been to: 1. Understand and assess the extent to which this capstone project (and the senior seminar course more broadly) allows students to meet some of the goals of the IGS major and gives the students an effective opportunity to integrate their study abroad experience into their independent research and their personal and academic learning upon reentry; and to 2. Contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning in terms of learning more about the most effective pedagogies for a global studies capstone project and for helping students reflect upon, reinforce, and integrate their study abroad experience into their reentry learning.

Student Scholarship

Alina Iwan

Alina Iwan ’19, a Biology major, received a CRGE grant to support her research, which investigates vibrational communication in a focal species of Neotropical Katydids alongside her research mentor, Dr. Jen Hamel. During her grant period, she was able to travel to the Republic of Panama and conduct field research at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in collaboration with a team of scientists from different universities.

During Winter Terms 2018 and 2019, she worked with a group of scientists from different disciplines and backgrounds and initiated collaborations with a group that includes researchers at Dartmouth College, Cornell University, and the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (Paris). In January 2019, she contributed to a two-day round table discussion on a collaborative project at the Smithsonian field station in Panama. She has also presented elements of her research at the Annual Meeting of the Animal Behavior Society in Chicago, IL and at the North Carolina Academy of Sciences in Wilmington, NC.

Through her research experiences, she has learned to share ideas across language and cultural barriers and to better understand her involvement in the global scientific community. This experience has inspired her to pursue a career in field research and opened her up to the possibility of conducting research at international destinations.

Kathryn Gerry

Kathryn Gerry ’20, a double major in Political Science and International and Global Studies, is studying Indian migration and migrant experiences alongside her research mentor, Dr. Amy Allocco. Her project, entitled “Migration and South India’s Shifting Landscapes: Social and Religious Change in Kerala,” explores the social and economic history of Kerala as well as the South Indian styles of religious dress and sacred architecture. Gerry is spending the summer of 2019 immersing herself in fieldwork in several South Indian communities.

Gerry became interested in her research project because of the way it combines her areas of academic interest, connecting the regional areas of Middle East and Asia with interreligious studies on a global scale by tracking flows of migration.

Gerry plans to continue her research as she enters her senior year at Elon.

Lindsay Maldari

Lindsay Maldari ’19, an Art History and Political Science double major, used her CRGE grant to fund a week of independent research in Rome to support her Honors thesis, entitled: “Fixed Time: An Object-Oriented Approach to Anachronisms in La Difesa Della Razza” and mentored by Dr. Evan Gatti. She visited multiple archives which housed the Fascist publication she researched, explored a number of museum exhibits related to Holocaust memory, and visited Fascist architectural and historical sites. She also had the opportunity to speak with a number of locals and found that these individualized conversations shaped her research more than she could have hoped.

Overall, this experience deepened her appreciation for global learning, as she came to appreciate how much she was able to augment the quality of her research over the span of just a week of cultural immersion.

In the spring of 2019, Maldari presented elements of her reseearch at the UNC Greensboro Honors Symposium, NCUR, SURF, and Life at Elon. She hopes to have the opportunity to return to Italy for further field research in future graduate studies.

Luz Regina Mendoza

Luz Regina Mendoza, ’19, an Economics major, sought to determine the economic and social impacts of participation in Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) on South Sudanese refugees and host citizens in Northern Uganda. Alongside mentor Dr. Steve DeLoach, she collaborated with a non-governmental organization called Seed Effect to assess the impact of their VSLA program. Through data analysis, she found that refugees tend to borrow more, specifically on school fees, than non-refugees. Furthermore, an increase in the amount that participants are allowed to save in each period decreases the ability for many participants to save and borrow, limiting the positive impact of the VSLA. The results suggest that Seed Effect could increase their impact by limiting the value of each share chosen by savings groups. Through her CRGE grant, Mendoza was also able to travel to Uganda to interact with the individuals that she was researching. In the spring of 2019, Mendoza presented aspects of her research at the Eastern Economics Association’s annual conference in New York City and at the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum at Elon University. She also plans to publish her thesis in the undergraduate research journal Issues in Political Economy.

Taylor Garner

Taylor Garner ’20, an International and Global Studies major, received CRGE funding to work on a project entitled “Women’s Intergenerational Memory in Argentina and Palestine” alongside mentor Dr. Sandy Marshall. She is spending the summer of 2019 conducting research in Tel Aviv, Israel, where she will meet with women living in Palestine to hear their stories of political violence. These collective memories have long been suppressed, and this project aims to bring these women’s stories into the limelight. The data from these interviews will be included in Garner’s final Honors thesis, which she will complete in the spring of 2020.

In addition to completing her research during her senior year at Elon, Garner also looks forward to presenting elements of her research at the American Association of Geographers in the spring of 2020.


CRGE Award Recipient

Taylor Garner ’20 Receives National Academic Achievement Award

Taylor Garner ’20 received the Forum on Education Abroad 2019 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad, which recognizes significant academic projects during an education abroad program, during forum’s virtual annual conference.

Garner explains her research in a virtual question-and-answer session.

Taylor Garner ’20, bottom right, talking about her research during the virtual conference.

Garner’s work on her thesis, “Mobilizing Memories: Women’s Affective and Embodied Memory Work in Argentina and Palestine,” took her to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a semester and to Nablus, Palestine, for a summer. An Honors Fellow Garner has also won a Center for Research on Global Engagement research grant, the Undergraduate Research Program Advisory Committee’s Rawls grant, and the Heidi Frontani Memorial Study Abroad Essay Contest, which comes with an award to support study abroad.

These connections and conversations were powerful cross-cultural moments for Garner to learn about the complexity of her host community while also addressing stereotypes about the United States. When Garner was asked charged questions, she saw it as an opportunity to broaden and complicate certain one-dimensional views of American identities.

The award comes with a $500 prize to help support Garner’s research moving forward. In the meantime, Garner shared advice for future education abroad students: “Don’t let anyone tell you that studying abroad is not hard, because it is … but it’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to challenge your perspective.”

*Excerpts of the featured story about Taylor Garner from the Elon News Network were used to write this.