FGRU Awarded Projects

School and Community in Haiti: Global Development in Local Context

This project will partner four UVa undergraduates with four Haitian university students in conducting a community-based ethnographic research project in Jacmel, Haiti, during summer 2018.   Students will travel to Haiti with Curry professor Diane Hoffman, receive training in ethnographic methods alongside Haitian students,  and conduct a joint research project that explores a significant local concern regarding education, such as school quality, problems affecting out-of-school children and youth, or factors affecting access to schooling.  Students will acquire research experience along with a deeper understanding of Haiti and the larger global issues shaping education in resource-challenged environments.

Behind the Wires: the Janowska Camp Project

This project explores the understudied Janowska concentration camp and the Holocaust in Lviv, Ukraine. With the support of the FGRU grant, two students will work as research assistants with Waitman Wade Beorn. They will conduct archival research in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. as well as travel to Lviv where they will conduct further archival work in Ukrainian archives and site surveys of the former camp. In addition, they are working on a longer term digital humanities project creating a GIS of the Lviv ghetto and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.

Kinesthetic Montage: An Immersive Exploration of Hong Kong’s Walkscapes

This project, led by Esther Lorenz (Assistant Professor, Architecture), will conduct design research with a strong empirical component by engaging students in a cinematic experience of the city of Hong Kong through the walking body, by capturing this experience, and by deducting and experimenting with implied design principles. Students will spend one week on location to experience, on foot, the unique relationship between the city’s pedestrian infrastructure, film culture, and the moving body. The work will culminate in an exhibition that conveys the characteristics and range of spatial experiences of pedestrian movement in Hong Kong through moving images, exploratory drawings, and design propositions.


YEDEA is an eight-week service-learning project in Koforidua, Ghana, created by UVa School of Medicine student and program director Emmanuel Larbi Abebrese. YEDEA develops innovative solutions for issues facing Ghanaian communities’ pursuit of education and healthcare, using Design Thinking. In the healthcare program, student researchers will identify means of introducing Telemedicine services into the existing infrastructure to improve the lives of underserved and/or rural communities to receive attention for their health concerns promptly. In the education program, student researchers, guided by Elgin Cleckley (Research Assistant Professor, Architecture), will examine if Design Thinking methods can produce social entrepreneurship ideas through brainstorming sessions for 8 to 11-year-old Ghanaian children.

Social Welfare and Traditional Healing in Limpopo, South Africa

Quantitative household survey data will be triangulated with new anthropological qualitative research in a mixed-methods study of poverty/wealth, health, and traditional healers. Jeanine Braithwaite (Professor of Public Policy) and her students of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy (FBSLPP) will undertake the quantitative analysis, and UVa’s Medical School will lead on biomedical aspects, while Univen will undertake the qualitative research including interviewing traditionally religious people and traditional practitioners. Together, implications for public policy for health and South Africa’s social grants (welfare system) will be developed.

Reframing the Nation: Brazilian Television in an Emerging Post-Network Era

This project will examine the production, distribution, and consumption of Brazilian television fiction since 2011, when then President Dilma Rousseff signed into law Lei 12.485/11. Through a number of mechanisms, Law 12.485 opened up the previously dormant pay television sector to foreign telecommunications companies and local independent production companies seeking to fill the new distribution channels with content. The rise of the pay television sector along with its role in increasing Internet subscriptions through triple-play packages has factored heavily in declining audience ratings for Brazil’s most widely produced and consumed symbolic good, the TV Globo produced telenovela. Since as early as 1968, TV Globo’s melodramatic serials have served as the primary fictional source for defining and representing what Brazil is and what it means to Brazilian, both to national and global audiences. To better understand the politics, socio-economics, and aesthetics associated with the emerging televisual representations of increasingly varied Brazils, Eli Carter (Assistant Professor, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese) and his students, Jennifer Oates and Mariana Brazao will use a multi-disciplinary approach to map the specifics of Brazil’s changing televisual landscape.

Improving Global Studies Through Area Studies: A 21st-Century Rethinking of Globalization

Speakers: Edith W. Clowes (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures) and Shelly Jarrett Bromberg (Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Miami (OH) University)

Turn-of-the-20th-century buzzwords like democratization and globalization need to be modified to help us understand the frameworks in which these ideals could benefit ordinary people, not just large companies and great power states and unions. Policymakers and the educated public both need a more nuanced view of the world that includes local and regional perspectives. Part of this nuanced view is a deeper knowledge of cultures and critical languages, as well as an understanding of the challenges involved in bringing regional experts to the table for discussion. How can area studies help global studies, and how can the Library facilitate that process? This talk will focus on those questions and other issues raised by the authors’ co-edited volume Area Studies in the Global Age: Community, Place, Identity (Northern Illinois University Press, 2015).

Investigating the Spread of Global Christianity

This project will examine Christianity in the kingdom of Kongo in the early modern period. This question has resonance not only for African historians but also for scholars of the Atlantic world. In order to interrogate Kongolese religious belief, Christina Mobley(Assistant Professor, Corcoran Department of History) and her student, Nicholas Kumleben, will map where and when Catholic missionaries travelled in the Kingdom of Kongo. They will also use linguistic evidence found in an extensive dictionary created by missionaries on the Loango Coast found in the British Library to recover the words used to describe spiritual concepts the religious life of the Kongo zone in the eighteenth century.

Spaces of Diplomacy

Phoebe Crisman’s (Associate Professor/ Director, Global Studies-Environment + Sustainability) Spaces of Diplomacy seminar will bring together diverse UVa faculty, students, and guests to investigate the role of spatiality in global diplomacy. Participants will explore how the physical design of an embassy and its landscape might play a more active role in diplomacy by relating to the cultural and climatic context of a place, and symbolizing and promoting democracy and American values. How can US embassies contribute to the civic life of host cities and convey a sense of openness in the midst of increasing fear, risk, and intense security demands? Parallel with Crisman’s Fall 2016 Design for Diplomacy Studio, UVa scholars will contribute to the US State Department’s Diplomacy Lab by rethinking the relationship between our global ambitions and the consular buildings and landscapes that embody them around the globe.

Recreating the Archive

In 1620, Manuel Gaytán de Torres left Jerez de la Frontera to survey Venezuelan copper mines. Copper was central to imperial Spain’s currency policies, military campaigns against the Dutch, and trade relationships in West Africa, but it was in short supply. Gaytán de Torres projected his vision of a community of African, indigenous, and Iberian miners in a report, painting (now lost), and navigational chart (also lost). After digging in Archivo General de Indias (Sevilla), Allison Bigelow, Assistant Professor, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, and Faculty Coordinator, Maya K’iche’ (Duke-Vanderbilt-UVa Consortium) and her student, Rebecca Graham, will recreate the painting from the prose descriptions, suggesting how new approaches to imperial archives and undergraduate research can shed light on the history of race and extractive industries in the Americas.

Waste Initiative: Brazil

Professor Vivian Thomson and University of São Paulo (USP) faculty colleagues will work with two Environmental Thought and Practice majors and selected USP students on a Waste Initiative. The ETP students will ask, how do the catadores, Brazil’s waste collectors and recyclers, contribute to recycling and waste management in the city of São Paulo? How might the role of the catadores change as state and local officials begin to comply with the national mandate to develop a long term waste strategy? This work feeds into a larger, collaborative book-length project on waste management principles and their application in the US, Brazil, Germany, and Panama.

Social Media, Self Management, and Global Community

Rupa Valdez, Assistant Professor in the Division of Biomedical Informatics, in the Department of Public Health Sciences, and David Edmunds, Director of the Global Development Studies Major, are leading an ongoing international research program based in Westhaven (public housing in Charlottesville) and Town Two (a township outside Cape Town). The research is driven by the question, “In what ways does a combination of in-person and social media-enabled community interaction shape patient engagement, the production of community-based self-management initiatives, and health outcomes?” This FGRU grant will support the engagement of undergraduate students in the development of grant proposals aimed at a full-scale launching of the project in academic year 2016–17.

ADG/Svalbard Travelling Studio

ADG/Svalbard Studio is a pilot travelling studio offered by the Arctic Design Group, led by professors Matthew Jull (Architecture) andLeena Cho (Architecture), and is the third in a sequence of studios at UVa focused on the design of cities and landscapes in the arctic. A key goal is to visit and study the architectural and urban conditions in the Norwegian and Russian arctic settlements in Svalbard and investigate possible modes of sustainable future urban development, given the changing environmental and economic conditions. The studio will provide a unique experience for undergraduate and graduate students at UVa to work together with faculty as part of the Arctic Design Group, to experience the arctic first-hand, and to proactively engage in developing new strategies for the evolving relationship between extreme climates and the built environment.

Architectural Analysis of Healing Spaces: Maggie Center Case Studies

Schaeffer Somers, Lecturer in Architecture and Public Health Sciences, is directing a Faculty-Student Global Research project with 4thyear students, Harsheen Kaur and Hafsa Ambreen, to analyze the architecture of Maggie Centers in the United Kingdom. Maggie Centers are designed to promote the practical, emotional, and social needs of cancer survivors and their families, and they represent ideal case studies for healing spaces. The project leverages faculty research and Harsheen’s work in the ARCH 3011 Architectural Design Thinking studio to survey published evidence and analyze the Maggie Center designs for relationships that promote positive health outcomes for both patients and staff. The project will explore the case for Integrative Medicine in the US and prototype a toolkit for the design of healing spaces.

EcoAcoustics STAGE

Matthew Burtner, Professor of Music, invited undergraduate students in his Spring 2015 MUSI 3400 course to participate in the EcoAcoustics STAGE (Sonic Thought and Action for Global Environmentalism) project, which interwove elements of performance, scholarship, and activism. Under Burtner’s direction, students made use of the new Telematic Stage facility in the Department of Music to curate and produce a web-based performance series aimed at querying global environmentalism through sound art. The project featured collaboration with representatives of the EcoSono and Climate Reality Project organizations, providing students with real-world experiences of working at the intersection of environmentalism and the arts.

Read more about Burtner’s work here.

Women’s Rights and Islam in Palestinian Jurisprudence

Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl, Assistant Professor of Politics, and Deena Hurwitz, Professor of Law, developed the opportunity for several undergraduates to serve as research assistants in a project related to their broad inititative to evaluate the compatibility of women’s rights with both Islamic jurisprudence and socially-constructed understandings of religious tradition in the Middle East and North Africa. Students contributed to each stage of the research process, including conducting interviews and surveys in the West Bank with their faculty mentors during J-Term 2015. The project resulted in an international workshop event held at UVa, as well as the production of a “white paper” report and academic journal articles.

Global Climate Impacts of Oil Palm Expansion in Indonesian Peat

Deborah Lawrence, Professor of Environmental Science, will include an undergraduate student in an ongoing research project between UVa and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) to investigate how land use change affects carbon storage in Indonesian peatlands. Large scale changes in land use serve to impact global climate because oil palm is one of the top two drivers of deforestation globally. The undergraduate student will contribute to developing knowledge about the bio-geochemical parameters influencing carbon emissions from peat soils through a combination of analysis of previously gathered data and conducting new field measurements and laboratory experiments in Indonesia during Summer 2015.