Research News & Events
Our faculty and students are engaged in important research seeking to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Each year, faculty and students make important contributions to the field which result in them participating in a wide-range of research projects, publishing peer-reviewed articles, and presenting important findings at conferences.
Congratulations to the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery (HECAOD), which has been named an academic center at The Ohio State University. Ohio State’s University Senate approved the HECAOD’s proposal to be established as an official academic center in its January 21, 2016 meeting, following approval by the Council on Academic Affairs on October 21, 2015. Academic centers at the university are non-degree granting educational units engaged in research; instruction; or clinical, outreach or related service. The HECAOD serves as the premier alcohol and drug misuse prevention and recovery resource for colleges and universities across the nation. It is a collaboration among Ohio State’s College of Social Work, College of Pharmacy, Office of Student Life and Student Wellness Center, Generation Rx Initiative and Collegiate Recovery Community. The HECAOD is funded by a $2 million grant from The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. For more information, click here.
Congratulations to Dr. Audrey Begun who became a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research this year. Begun became a fellow during an induction ceremony at the society’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. in January. She joins Dr. Natasha Bowen as Ohio State’s and the College of Social Work’s two faculty members inducted into the Society for Social Work and Research as a SSWR Fellow. Induction into the fellowship is a prestigious acknowledgment that is awarded to a very limited number of the SSWR membership.
According to SSWR: “Fellows of the Society for Social Work and Research are members who have served with distinction to advance the mission of the Society — to advance, disseminate, and translate research that addresses issues of social work practice and policy and promotes a diverse, equitable and just society.”
Begun’s research, service, and leadership in SSWR has focused on substance misuse and addictive behaviors. She has presented work in the past on training social workers about alcohol use disorders and preventing violence against women. To read more about Begun, click here.
Bowen does research on how elementary and middle schools can reduce academic achievement disparities associated with race/ethnicity and socio-economic status. To read more about Bowen, click here.
Around the world, women working illegally in the sex trade are often at the mercy of pimps, partners, clients and police, powerless to stop a beating, powerless to get justice, powerless even to protect themselves from HIV should a client refuse to use a condom.
Dr. Sharvari Karandikar has devoted her professional life to changing that, focusing her research on gender-based violence among female sex workers and how it affects their day-to-day lives. Her most recent work was in Kathmandu, Nepal, where women recounted the challenges of living as sex workers in a society where every aspect is dominated by men.
By understanding the circumstances that brought these women into the sex trade and the violence they face, and then by talking to the clients themselves, Karandikar hopes her research will lead to interventions that will protect women from physical harm and HIV risk, and restore their basic human dignity.
Many women in Nepal’s sex trade, she notes, were forced into it, either by dire poverty, traffickers, even by husbands or fathers in some cases. And once in the sex trade, women can never shake off the stigma that Nepalese society attaches to it.
“These women are seriously on the lowest rungs of society,” she says.
Karandikar arranged a collaboration with the Nepal School of Social Work for her latest work. She was joined by Dr. Lindsay Gezinski (OSU PhD 2011), assistant professor in the College of Social Work at the University of Utah and a former PhD student of Dr. Karandikar’s, and by Marissa Kaloga, a PhD student at Ohio State.
En route to Kathmandu in late April, Karandikar and her team were forced back after a devastating earthquake struck central Nepal. They eventually made the trip in December, joining up with Pradipta Kadambari and Kipa Maskey from the Nepal School of Social Work, and Bijaya Dhakal, who represents a sex-workers-rights organization called Jagriti Mahila Maha Sang.
Nepal’s unregulated sex industry is burgeoning, and the principle driver is poverty. The earthquake only compounded the misery, driving desperate women and girls into the sex trade or into the clutches of traffickers promising “good jobs” in India.
Having interviewed 30 women over the course of 10 days in Nepal, she and her team learned what specific circumstances compelled them into the sex trade in the first place and the type and degree of violence they faced in their work. Her next step is to look at the problem from the other side.
When she returns to Nepal in May 2016, she and her team will interview clients to better understand their violent triggers and to identify steps that can be taken to reduce disease transmission.
“One of our partners in Nepal, a sex-workers-rights organization, came to us and said there has to be some change in this and you have to talk to the clients, not only about HIV protection but also about respecting women and children.”
In the upcoming research, Karandikar and her team will set out to do just that, though she understands that persuading men to talk candidly about their sexual practices and their treatment of women poses a considerable challenge.
“The intention is not to expose clients, but to understand their perspective, to gain knowledge so we can reduce violence,” she says. “I understand that might not be a priority in their heads, but that is the only way to get this information.”
As part of their work, Karandikar and her team plan to devise interventions to educate clients — for example, holding workshops on gender sensitization and HIV prevention. While these are small steps, she believes they can be the start of a path that leads to a much better future for the women of Nepal.
It seems simple enough: Gather a group of young kids and older adults at a neighborhood center, involve them in creative activities they will enjoy and benefit from, add some smiles and hugs and – bingo — everybody goes home happier, healthier and a bit smarter.
Only, it’s never simple to bring different generations together in a planned, structured setting, even under the best conditions.
And it’s most assuredly not simple when the kids and seniors live in poverty, there’s nobody with expertise to organize activities, and there’s not even a building available to gather in. What’s more, getting a place up and running would take millions of dollars, require innovative planning and endless collaboration, and involve navigating a thicket of legal, regulatory and licensing issues.
In short, that’s what the Champion Intergenerational Enrichment and Education Center is all about and what it had to overcome. Yet seven years after it was first envisioned, the center is a reality and a lynchpin in a broader plan to transform the Near East Side. And it happened in large part because of the OSU College of Social Work and the planning, persistence and vision of Associate Professor Holly Dabelko-Schoeny, Professor Shannon Jarrott and Dean Tom Gregoire.
The first of its kind in central Ohio, the center officially opened Dec. 9 in the former Poindexter Community Building at 240 N. Champion Ave., a building that four years ago was scheduled to be demolished. Cynthia Dougherty, a PhD student in social work, is program director.
The Champion center provides preschool and early childhood education, adult day services, support for caregivers and parents, and basic medical assistance. When kids and adults get together, they might spend time reading, mixing cookie dough or planting seeds in the garden. Activities are designed to build relationships, improve health and wellness, develop educational skills in children, and create a sense of purpose in the elderly. The center will serve about 50 kids and 50 adults each day.
“The idea is to harness the power of both generations,” says Dabelko-Schoeny, who has been involved with the project since its inception.
“Programs like this provide meaning and improve well-being through engagement. They also overcome assumptions about aging and disability. And then there’s the learning component. They improve literacy, educate and train caregivers, and provide a workshop to teach students who aspire to go into child care or work with the elderly.”
Early on, Dabelko-Schoeny reached out to Jarrott, an expert on best practices for intergenerational programs and, at the time, a professor at Virginia Tech and director of research for the university’s Neighbors Growing Together program. As it turns out, Gregoire also reached out to Jarrott, eventually persuading her to join the CSW faculty and to lend her expertise to the Champion team.
Jarrott has been impressed with the planning done by the team. “It was time well spent,” she says. “It’s clear they sought input from clients and stakeholders to identify shared values and to come up with a shared mission. In a complicated process like this, voices need to be heard and relationships need to be built and sustained.”
The center is able to serve so many functions — and was so tricky to create — because of the expansive list of community, university and government partners involved. National Church Residences provides services for seniors, and Columbus Early Learning Centers directs child development programs. The colleges of Medicine, Social Work and Nursing will help develop intergenerational programming while pursuing opportunities for research, teaching and community engagement.
And then there’s the bigger picture, the plan to add housing, reduce crime, improve educational opportunities and increase employment in the neighborhood. Ohio State, the city of Columbus and the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority are key players here, all under the direction of a nonprofit called Partners Achieving Community Transformation, or more commonly, PACT.
“It’s pretty awesome to see the efforts on the East Side,” Jarrott says. “It’s exciting that the university is there. I have a high sense of confidence that residents are being heard and the university is responding.”
Oddly, the Champion center’s roots go back not to any of the three lead colleges involved, but the OSU Office of Human Resources. Concern was growing among faculty and staff about the wait for child care and the need to tend to elderly parents and relatives. An idea for a campus intergenerational center was hatched in 2008 and later fleshed out at a World Café sponsored in part by the College of Social Work and facilitated by Assistant Dean Lisa Durham. When money became an issue, the idea was expanded to include the larger community and was folded into the PACT plan.
But moving from plan to production proved difficult within the university. “Nobody would commit to it,” remembers Dabelko-Schoeny. “The problem was, Who would own it?”
Help came from Stillman Hall.
“Something that Social Work brings to the table is we have a dean who is available and very nimble,” she said. “Because Tom believed in the idea, he was instrumental in moving the deans forward. And once Medicine and Nursing committed, it got the ball rolling.”
Now that the center is open, Dabelko-Schoeny is looking ahead to research, possibly studying how kids and adults at Champion are affected by food insecurity. “The neighborhood is an 800-acre food desert,” she says. “There are corner stores around, but it’s mostly chips and cigarettes and that sort of thing.”
Jarrott hopes to develop longitudinal studies to examine how Champion and other intergenerational programs affect kids’ perception of aging. “Children in these programs tend to have greater empathy and lower anxiety about aging,” she said. “They tend to have more positive expectations of old age.”
For both women, the experience has been challenging, sometimes frustrating, and overwhelmingly rewarding. Along the way, a deep friendship blossomed. In fact, Dabelko-Schoeny’s commitment to adult day services and her passion for research played a big part in Jarrott’s decision to move to Columbus.
“Holly’s going to have a hard time shaking me,” she says.