Conducting Funded International Research: Opportunities and Challenges

Concurrent Sessions 7 (Invited Presenter Symposium)

Spencer James, Ph.D., Brigham Young University, Sylvia Asay, Ph.D., University of Nebraska at Kearney, Miliann Kang, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Mihaela Robila, Ph.D., Queens College, City University of New York, Brenda Koester, M.S., Cagla Giray, M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Discussant: Jonathan Sandberg, Ph.D., Brigham Young University; Chair: Mihaela Robila, Ph.D., Queens College, City University of New York

3:00 PM
4:15 PM
Golden Pacific Ballroom
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About the Session
  • 237-01 - Comparing the Well-Being of Reunified and Institutionalized Children in Ghana: The Role of Hope
    By Spencer James, Ph.D., Brigham Young University
  • 237-02 - Funding From Unexpected Places for International Research
    By Sylvia Asay, Ph.D., University of Nebraska at Kearney
  • 237-03 - Opportunities of the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program: A Focus on Scholarship in South Korea and Portugal
    By Miliann Kang, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts-Amherst; and Mihaela Robila, Ph.D., Queens College, City University of New York
  • 237-04 - NIH/Fogarty International Center Funded Project: Promoting Healthy Eating Habits in Jamaican Schools Through Food-Focused U.S. Media Literacy
    By Brenda Koester, M.S.; and Cagla Giray, M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Prior work comparing Ghanaian children who have been reunified with their families with those remaining in residential care facilities (i.e., orphanages; RCFs) has identified important differences, with RCF children reporting higher levels on the Child Status Index (CSI), which measures a child’s psychosocial wellbeing, and reunified children reporting higher levels of hope, both in terms of their routes/strategies used to achieve desired goals (hope pathways) and the motivation/confidence to pursue the path leading to desired goals (hope agency). This paper builds on previous work by asking a simple question: how are levels of hope related to the Child Status Index. Specifically, do levels of hope help explain why children in residential care facilities report higher levels of wellbeing than their counterparts who have been reunified with their families after spending time in a care facility? An ordinary least squares regression was estimated to predict Child Status Index levels, with hope and a dummy variable for whether the child was still in the RCF or had been reunified with family as well as an interaction term between the two. After accounting for controls, the interaction term was statistically significant. Although hope is associated with greater levels of wellbeing on the CSI for both groups, the influence of hope is stronger for reunified children. At low levels of hope, reunified children lag behind their RCF counterparts by about 4 points (out of 30) on the overall hope scale. This gap closes entirely among those in top 12% of the distribution, suggesting that differential hope levels may account for at least part of the reason why Ghanaian RCF children and reunified children differ in wellbeing as measured by the Child Status Index. Although these results certainly underscore the importance of providing additional resources and case management to reunified children, a better understanding of psychological measures such as hope may also shed additional light on how to improve the wellbeing of at-risk children.


(1) Present my research on vulnerable children in Ghana; (2) Describe the mechanisms used to fund this research; (3) How we collected the data, steps taken to ensure data quality, etc.

Researchers who want to conduct international research often seek national funding such as the Fulbright Scholar Program or the National Science Foundation. Funding from organizations such as these can be difficult to obtain or are narrowly focused. This may discourage researchers, especially young researchers, from conducting international research if they have a small project or they are at the beginning stages of development. This presentation will focus on unexpected sources of funding that can help jump-start international research.  Information for managing funding and conducting international research is included.


(1) To inform the audience about the sources of funding for international research; (2) To inform the audience about the process of funding for research; (3) To inform the audience about special considerations when conducting international research.

Insufficient attention to the influence of and variation among national and cultural contexts in the work and family literature has been referred to as “an elephant in our field,” in that while many scholars tout the need to give attention to these contexts, “relatively few studies actually do so.” (Ollier-Malaterre et al. 2013:453).  Several review articles have verified that the literature on work and family has primarily focused on the U.S., Canada and Europe. Studies which have focused on Asia have often highlighted western expatriate employees on extended international business assignments rather than the structural issues in those countries. Funding for cross- and transnational family research is available through Fulbright and other organizations, but the process for applying and conducting this research can often be challenging to negotiate. Based on the Dr Kang’s experiences as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in South Korea in 2017-18, this presentation seeks to share challenges and best practices for addressing them.  It discusses why it is important for the field of family studies to expand this research and support those doing it.  Dr. Robila received two Fulbright Senior Specialist Awards one at the Seoul University in South Korea (2012) one at the University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal (2016). She has also been a reviewer for the Fulbright program for a year. Dr Robila will focus her presentation on the process of applying to the Fulbright Senior Specialist program, and on obtaining and using the funding.


(1) Increase understanding of the importance of family research outside of the U.S. context; (2) Discuss the research conducted in South Korea and its significance; (3) Clarify the process of getting funding for such research, specifically through Fulbright

Globalization has brought a new cultural determinant of health called remote acculturation: internalizing U.S. cultural identity, values, and lifestyles (Ferguson & Bornstein, 2012). Prior research in Jamaica has shown that remote acculturation towards U.S. culture is linked to watching more U.S. cable television and, in turn, eating more unhealthy food (Ferguson et al., 2017). The J(amaica) U(nited) S(tates) Media? Programme, an NIH/Fogarty International Center funded research project, aims to combat the negative impact of US cable TV programs and advertising on the eating habits of Americanized youth and families in Jamaica. Researchers developed and delivered an interactive two-session workshop to adolescent-mother dyads. The workshop was supplemented with eight weeks of follow-up SMS/text messages to teach media literacy principles and critical thinking skills about unhealthy US food advertising in Jamaica. The second portion of the project include facilitating the formation of a Healthy Families Partnership with national and local stakeholders who will work towards embedding food-focused media literacy and nutrition into national and regional school-based policy and practice efforts. In addition, this paper describes developing and conducting research with an international transdisciplinary team, the process of identifying and securing funding, and creating a community-based stakeholder coalition in an international setting.


(1) Identify best practices for conducting trans-national and trans-disciplinary research in a developing country; (2) Describe the impact of remote acculturation, food-focused US advertising and a food-focused media literacy intervention on the health of Jamaican youth and families; (3) Explain the process for creating a community stakeholder coalition focused on disseminating and embedding the research findings into current practice and policy.

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