2019 Graduate Fellows

Photo of Daniela Romero-Amaya
Daniela Romero-Amaya
Teachers College, Ph.D. candidate in Social Studies Education

Daniela’s research focuses on analyzing students’ civic identities, attitudes, and decisions amidst the current peace process in Colombia. She examines the ways in which students’ lived experiences and understandings about the Colombian armed conflict inform their civic roles. Her ethnographic work pays attention to the civic tensions and negotiations of youth within the changing sociopolitical scenario. Her research explores the interplay between formal and informal settings; the citizenship and history lessons that students gain from both their schooled experiences and the encounters outside the classroom. This study sheds light on the relation between the political aspiration to consolidate a citizenry for peace in Colombia, and the everyday civic development of young people in conflict-affected settings. This research aims to offer more nuanced accounts on citizenship and citizenship education that can contribute to build programs and plans that engage youth in the transition to more stable, safe and just conditions.

Photo of Daniella Gomez Bonilla
Daniella Gómez Bonilla
School of International and Public Affairs, MPA, Urban and Social Policy, specializing in Gender & Public Policy

Daniella will be working with Belun, a non-government organization in Timor-Leste that works extensively to build capacity and prevent conflict with integrity and innovation. She will work in the Women, Peace and Security Project, that seeks to improve women’s groups and community-based organizations and to involve them in conflict prevention and peace building processes. Daniella will support the implementation of the project at the national level, while promoting that gender advocates have the capacity to influence integration of gender equality principles into conflict prevention and peace-building practices at the village and municipal level. In the future, Daniella expects to apply the lessons from her experience in Timor-Leste in the peacebuilding processes of her own country, Colombia.

Photo of Darren Rabinowitz
Darren Rabinowitz
Teachers College, MA, International Educational Development

Darren will be conducting research in Rwanda to better understand how community based organizations (CBO) can cultivate feelings of belonging within orphaned and vulnerable children (OCV). He will use Future Vision Acrobat, a Rwandan led circus arts CBO, as a case study. Through the Structural Peace framework, he will examine the efficacy of FVAs programming pertaining to how they encourage OVC to go back to school and to what extent does FVA’s programming foster social connectedness and inclusion amongst OVC”.

Photo of Emma DiNapoli
Emma DiNapoli
Columbia Law School

Emma’s research critically examines how human rights activists and researchers do—or do not—incorporate trauma-informed strategies into human rights fact-finding activities. In particular, this project will study how how human rights activists in Kashmir and Palestine conduct fact-finding activities; from this research, and in collaboration with mental health professionals based in the US, Kashmir and Palestine, Emma will develop and support the implementation of a trauma-informed fact-finding curriculum in these two conflict zones. This project seeks to create a set of accepted and tested best practices in human rights interviewing for broader application in other contexts.

Photo of Fatene Ben Hamza
Fatène Ben-Hamza
School of International & Public Affairs

While in Amman, Jordan Fatène will conduct research on youth unemployment, exclusion, and the design of public policies to increase youth participation in the labor force across the region. As an A4C fellow, Fatène will engage in fieldwork to understand the barriers that exist in integrating youth (18-25) in the labor force, a major factor for a peaceful demographic transition in the region. By conducting surveys and interviews with stakeholders in the public and private sectors as well as civil society actors, Fatene’s research will be used to inform the design of future inclusive education and vocational training policies to develop human capital in the Middle East and North Africa, where youth unemployment rate exceeds that of any other region in the world.

Photo of Jihae Cha
Jihae Cha
Teachers College, Ed. D. International Educational Development

Jihae’s research examines the schooling experiences of refugee children and youth in camp settings, and the different factors that contribute to their school persistence and dropout in displacement. Moving away from deficit discourses that emphasize the vulnerability, passivity, and powerlessness of the displaced populations, Jihae takes a balanced approach that explore both challenges and opportunities that exist in refugee education. Jihae will travel to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where she will be conducting focus group discussions, surveys, and interviews with both in-school and out-of-school children for six to eight months.

Photo of Juana Lee
Juana Lee
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, MA in Human Rights Studies

Juana Lee’s research focuses on analyzing the mechanisms that influenced Japanese corporate accountability for wartime forced labour during World War II. She will travel to South Korea and Beijing to gain a better understanding of how political, economic and social mechanisms, such as civil society and corporate accountability norms, have promoted the forced labour redress movement in both countries. By way of historical research, interviews and observations, her project will analyze the post-war forced labour redress movement in Asia to illuminate how historical dialogue can contribute to corporate accountability and sustainable peace. In the future, she hopes to continue working alongside civil society to achieve corporate accountability for victims of human rights abuses.

Photo of Madalina Ciocanu
Madalina Ciocanu
Teachers College, MA in International Education Development

Madalina Ciocanu’s research focuses on understanding the role of alternative forms of education informed by indigenous knowledge systems. As an AC4 fellow, she will engage in fieldwork in Oaxaca, Mexico to investigate the autonomous secondary education of ten indigenous communities across the state. Focusing on the connection with nature that stands at the core of indigenous epistemologies, this project will give an insight to the possibility of a post-anthropocentric education. In hope of pushing the spectrum of legitimacy in education systems, this project will initiate Madalina’s goal of diversifying knowledge representation.

Photo of Paula Mantila Blanco
Paula Mantilla Blanco
Teachers College, Ph.D. student in International and Comparative Education

Paula’s research focuses on peace education for bystander youth in Colombia. By studying students’ experiences of the Centre of Memory, Peace, and Reconciliation in Bogotá, she explores the potential role of memory sites in helping students empathize with alternative narratives of the Colombian armed conflict. This study hopes to contribute to our understanding of how peace education efforts can be more responsive to the experiences of diverse student populations in conflict and post-conflict settings. Doing so will bring forth the need to meaningfully engage bystander youth in peacebuilding efforts, especially in contexts where violence has been normalized.

Photo of Valentina Errasuiz Besa
Valentina Errazuriz-Besa  
Teachers College, PhD in Teaching Social Studies

Valentina’s research explores the convergence between the recent Chilean feminist movement led by students and the apparent citizenship education crisis, particularly among young women. She examines this apparent contradiction exploring the ways in which young women are currently politically engaged and challenge gender oppression within their high schools and their activist spaces. From a post-colonial Latin American feminist theoretical framework, she has conducted a critical ethnography to understand how female public high school students in Chile produce their gender/political subjectivities in a context of feminist contentious politics and creatively respond, theorize and re imagine political engagement, providing insights into what is, and what can be education for democratic citizenship and gender justice.

Group photo of Vijay Ramesh, Pooja Choksi, Sarika Khanwilkar
Vijay Ramesh, Pooja Choksi, Sarika Khanwilkar
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, PhD Candidates in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology (E3B)

The emerging technology of acoustics is opening a new window into capturing the diversity of sounds from insects, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Low-cost and time-efficient acoustic technology offers novel possibilities for a wide audience to appreciate biodiversity and for local resource managers to identify where and when diversity is under threat across areas of human-wildlife conflict. ‘Project Dhvani’ will use non-invasive audio recorders across a landscape of remarkable stronghold of biodiversity in India: the dry tropical forests of central India. This project will aim to understand how biodiversity varies across human-dominated land cover types in central India using sounds.

Project Dhvani is a collaborative undertaking of three young scientists, local non-governmental and academic institutions and the state Forest Departments in India. This team consists of Vijay Ramesh, who examines the effects of land-use and climate change on biodiversity; Pooja Choksi, who studies patterns of forest degradation and co-existence and Sarika Khanwilkar, who quantifies the relationships and feedback between people and the environment. You can learn more about the project at www.projectdhvani.org