Twelve-year-old Fellowship Program Welcomes German Scholars to Duke

Amerikahaus 2008

Since 2007, German Ph.D. candidates have been coming to Duke through a partnership with the Bavarian American Academy in Munich

By Camille Jackson

German scholar Clara-Sophie Höhn’s nearly eight weeks on Duke’s campus last year helped advance her Ph.D. project to the next level, offering her the opportunity to engage with experts, use the university’s vast library, and benefit from its particular location in the American South.

“The most important aspect for me was that I was able to meet the people I was studying personally and get an impression of who they are and what motivated them to take part in one of the major social movements in the U.S.,” said Höhn whose thesis topic was on antiracism and the role of Southern white women in the civil rights movement.

“I am focusing on intersectionality as established by Kimberlé W. Crenshaw,” Höhn writes in her project summary. “It examines how social categories, in my case race, whiteness, gender, class, culture, and religion, overlap as well as intersect and therefore influence systems of oppression, discrimination, domination and/or privilege.”

Höhn is one of the most recent fellows to be selected for the Bavarian American Academy/Duke University Post-Graduate Research Fellowship, a 12-year partnership between the Duke Center for Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences (REGSS) and the America House Munich – Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations.

The fellowship provides students pursuing a Ph.D. in fields such as law, history, and political science, a generous stipend, housing, travel assistance and the opportunity to spend up to 8 weeks on Duke’s campus.

This fall, Duke will welcome its 12th fellow, Axelle Germanaz, a Ph.D. candidate at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg in American studies.

“For me, the program is very important and impressive. All of the fellows report back on the incredible, helpful and enriching research environment, the ample resources, and the huge benefit of personal communication and intercultural exchange,” said Margaretha Schweiger-Wilhelm, the managing director of the Bavarian American Academy.

The program, which began in the 2007-08 academic year, was founded by the former directors of the Bavarian American Academy (BAA). Professor Kerry Haynie, REGSS director, oversees the program on Duke’s end.

The relationship between Duke and BAA began during a 4-day summer institute, “Ethnicity and Society in America,” held in 2008 at the America House Munich – Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations in Munich, Haynie was one of the U.S. faculty members who led discussions on the historical and intellectual dimensions of race in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

At the time, the Executive Director of the Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations, Meike Zwingenberger, was BAA’s managing director.

“Professor Haynie has been an outstanding source of information and help for the fellows, together with the local staff. All participants have reported that they received an enormous support at the center,” Zwingenberger said. “The Center (REGSS) has been an excellent partner for younger researchers in Germany working on urban studies, race relations, ethnic entrepreneurship, public policies, presidential election’s voting behavior and other themes connected to social science research.”

“The Fellowship program has been a successful intellectual partnership between the Bavarian American Academy, the Duke Alumni German-American Club, and REGSS,” said Haynie, who hosts the fellows in the physical office space of the Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity.

“The university is an ideal location for scholars working on topics related to race, ethnicity, intersectionality, race relations, and politics because of its excellent faculty, library, and archival resources. We have been able to provide the fellows with a base from which to do in-depth research and fieldwork, and connect with faculty and graduate students who have expertise in their research areas,” Haynie said.

“The relationship has been mutually beneficial. For example, the fellows introduce us to new perspectives and scholarship on topics related to the work of the Center. I’m especially pleased that this partnership provides Duke alumni in Germany with the means to remain connected to the university.”

Zwingenberger said that besides being a prestigious U.S. partner, Duke’s location in the Research Triangle, in North Carolina, and in the southern U.S. made the partnership especially attractive. She added that Duke’s Law School, Fuqua School of Business, Sanford School of Public Policy, as well as REGSS, provided “an excellent academic environment.”

Founded as a network of Bavarian scholars working in the social sciences and other fields to foster academic relationships with the U.S., the BAA sponsors individuals to pursue academic scholarship in the U.S. via fellowships for doctoral candidates. In addition to its partnership with Duke, BAA also sponsors fellowships at Harvard and Yale.

A German Duke alum based in Munich, Markus Nauheim, LLM ‘96, helped secure initial funding for the program to further support the academic exchange between Germany and the U.S.

“Duke is like the ‘Disney World’ of education,” Nauheim said. “I would love for more students to see and experience it. Studying in this type of stimulating environment makes you more curious, makes you really enjoy education, and you can learn about yourself too.

“We are really happy to be able to sponsor students and to encourage them to come to Duke,” Nauheim said. As the chair of Duke Germany, Nauheim helped make it possible for alumni to donate to the program under tax-exempt status. It has been the perfect vehicle for German alumni to show their school spirit.

“German Duke alumni feel very attached to the school. And the more talented and gifted students we can attract, the better. It’s important to be in this sort of company. The Duke brand is not yet as well-known as Yale or Harvard, so the program does a lot for the university’s reputation abroad. It is even more important in the current political environment to further the Transatlantic academic and cultural exchange.”

German universities do not have the same resources top, private American universities have, Nauheim explained, and students are in large classes with few opportunities to form relationships with professors.

At Duke, fellows are able to make use of the university’s cutting-edge resources and special collections of rare books and manuscripts, as well as the vibrant guest speakers and conferences on civil rights-themed issues.

“The academic profile of the Center has been especially attractive for Bavarian scholars working in the social sciences on comparative projects in political science, public policy, urban studies or on race relations in Germany and the U.S. It has provided a starting point for contact with renowned scholars from other U.S. universities.” Zwingenberger added.

Those connections helped Höhn greatly.

“The resource that was helpful the most during my stay at Duke were the personal contacts and conversations I had with various experts on topics that closely relate to my own research focus, such as Kerry Haynie or Wesley Hogan, director of Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies,” Höhn said. “Not only were these interactions highly valuable for discussion and the exchange of ideas, they also helped further develop my research approach. In a practical way, they assisted me with how I should organize my research plan during the time I spent at Duke.”

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Mellon Foundation to Fund Expansion of Duke Model For Mentoring Underrepresented Early Career Faculty

SITPA 2017The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is funding the expansion of Duke’s Summer Institute on Tenure and Professional Advancement (SITPA) program. SITPA is an intensive research mentoring and professional socialization program for early career faculty who are from underrepresented groups or who otherwise deepen diversity at their institutions.

One of SITPA’s objectives is to address a nationwide problem in higher education—the underrepresentation of various racial and ethnic minority groups on the faculties of U.S. colleges and universities.

The SITPA approach concentrates support and mentoring of junior faculty early in their career, with the goal of enabling a successful transition to tenured associate professor rank. The Duke program will receive $698,000 over three and a half years, from July 1, 2018, to December 31, 2021.

“Duke is committed to the value and need for diversity in the professoriate,” noted Valerie Ashby, dean of Duke’s Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. “I have seen this program in action, and this approach will enable us to build a stronger, more inclusive university community which is essential to our future.”

The U.S. has succeeded in significantly increasing the number of minorities receiving doctorates in a broad range of fields in recent decades. However, faculty diversity has changed only marginally and is not keeping pace with the nation’s shifting population demographic.

“We need underrepresented minority faculty members and others who recognize the importance of having diverse faculties to become long-term stakeholders who help shape the mission, curriculum, student body and faculty at our institutions,” said SITPA creator and Director Kerry Haynie, an associate professor of political science and African & African American studies. “We’ve designed a program that provides promising scholars with the knowledge, strategies and support they need to earn tenure.”

Haynie plans to present the SITPA model at national conferences over the next three years and to publish on the benefits of this faculty development approach. In addition, he hopes to enlist two to three colleges to pilot the program on their own campuses.

Duke launched the SITPA program in 2014 with the support of the Mellon Foundation. To develop the program focus and format, Haynie utilized existing research, sought input from senior faculty from a wide range of fields, and made use of lessons learned from his experiences with other mentoring initiatives. The need for universities to invest more in the success of junior faculty was a consistent finding from these inquiries.

“We’ve designed a program that provides promising scholars with the knowledge, strategies and support they need to earn tenure.”
– Kerry Haynie

Research reveals that graduate programs do not routinely include professional socialization as part of their formal training. In addition, most university faculty mentoring programs fail to address some of the distinctive concerns and needs of faculty from underrepresented minority groups.

For example, a significant proportion of humanities and social sciences faculty of color specialize in research related to race, ethnicity, difference or intersectionality. However, few senior faculty will have matching expertise in any given department or university. As these topics are positioned at the margins of most disciplines, it is more challenging for such scholars to publish in leading disciplinary journals. As a result, it is more difficult for underrepresented minority faculty to become part of professional networks with influential scholars in their fields.

To date, three cohorts of 16 fellows are engaged in the sustained, two-year sequence of SITPA programming. Each fellow has ongoing guidance and feedback from a senior faculty mentor in their discipline at an institution with similar expectations for tenure. Thirty-eight of the 48 fellows come from doctoral universities, five from master’s colleges and universities, and five from baccalaureate colleges, including two from historically black colleges and universities.

At the start of the fellowship, selected SITPA faculty members attend a three-day workshop to learn about the formal tenure process. They also learn how to develop a research agenda and teaching portfolio that meets the standards and requirements for tenure at their particular college or university. Fellows engage in conversations about constructing a teaching portfolio, navigating university service demands, making effective use of professional networks, and managing work-life demands.

Preliminary evaluation results suggest SITPA fellows are outperforming a selected comparison group with regards to research productivity, said Haynie.

Homeward Bound Models Tenancy Support Services for N.C.

Researchers to learn from Homeward Bound’s success with support from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Homeward Bound case manager and volunteer assist a woman experiencing homelessness.

Homeward Bound case manager Asia Heller and volunteer Alan Steinberg assist a woman experiencing homelessness. Credit: Maureen Simon

Every person who lives in a shelter or on the streets in our community needs a combination of affordable housing, appropriate services and adequate income. The longer people are homeless, the more complex their needs become. As a consequence, homelessness ultimately costs taxpayers.

Homeward Bound, a nonprofit based in Asheville, N.C. and serving Buncombe and Henderson Counties, is dedicated to alleviating the effects of homelessness. Over the past 11 years, 89 percent of the more than 1,800 people that Homeward Bound has moved into housing have remained housed.

Now, Homeward Bound’s model of tenancy support services will expand its reach to the rest of the state. It will participate in a research project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program.

The research team is made up of two Duke University faculty members and a community advocate. They are Mina Silberberg, Ph.D., an associate professor in Duke Health’s Department of Community and Family Medicine; Donna Biederman, DrPH, MN, RN, associate professor at the Duke School of Nursing; and Emily Carmody, LCSW, program director with the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness. The Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity (DCORE) is a collaborating partner, providing consulting and staff support services to the research team.

As part of the study, the research team will conduct interviews and focus groups with staff and program participants as well as analyze program data. By closely studying Homeward Bound’s model, the researchers will learn about promising practices for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which is interested in using Medicaid to fund tenancy support services across the state.

Information from the study will help to create a Medicaid funding stream that supports effective services in the field and provides more people with supportive housing.

Tenancy-focused case management services are not the typically considered health services, but these services contribute to better health outcomes and recovery. For those with ongoing disabilities, long-term housing subsidies and services are a lifeline. For communities, the result is reduced costs to jails and hospitals.

“Most people think of the emergency room and/or community mental health providers as those directly addressing the health issues that formerly homeless individuals are experiencing,” says Leslie Stewart, Homeward Bound Program Director. “However, tenancy support through case management is the frontline intervention that works to make that connection and facilitate long-term engagement so that individuals can experience lasting wellness and stability in housing. Housing is health care.”

Besides helping residents to get and keep housing, Homeward Bound also connects residents to community resources, teaching them skills that will help them maintain their home and find employment and volunteer opportunities.

Homeward Bound is one of the two programs in North Carolina chosen for the study because of their success in housing vulnerable populations. Two programs in Louisiana will be studied as well.

Says Stewart, “Housing stability is a crucial piece of the puzzle when considering overall health and wellness and is necessary to fully address these issues.”

For more information about Homeward Bound’s success, go to

Duke Immerse Students Transformed by Immersive Experience

Students in Professors Kerry Haynie and Ralph Lawrence’s fall 2017 Duke Immerse program discuss the life-changing semester they spent traveling to different cities learning about urban governance and structural inequality.

DukeImmerse students in South Africa with a women’s microfinance collective, 2017.

By the year 2050, approximately 7 billion people will be living in cities worldwide.  This makes it imperative that we not only think about how best to plan and build urban centers in terms of physical features and infrastructure, but that we also pay attention to how inhabitants interact and coexist in these environments, and how politics and public policy can significantly affect these human interactions.

The Governance, Policy, and Society Duke Immerse program (GPS) is a research-intensive semester-long examination of politics, policymaking, and social interactions in urban settings. GPS uses 3 U.S. cities, Atlanta, New Orleans and Durham, and two cities in South Africa, Durban and Pietermaritzburg, as case studies and sites for student fieldwork. In both the U.S. and South Africa, racial and class divisions and group-based disparities remain prominent features of the urban landscape, despite the formal barriers of segregation having come down, sixty years ago in the U.S., and two-and-a-half decades ago in South Africa. The persistence of these various divisions and disparities has serious implications for community cohesion, race relations, public health, education, and general economic and social development.

Along with these topics, GPS Duke Immerse participants examine issues such as gentrification, urban redevelopment, economic mobility, zoning, public safety enforcement, public-private initiatives, tourism and leisure, and political decision-making. An underlying premise of GPS is that comparative analyses provide an opportunity for expanding knowledge and understanding of patterns of social and economic deprivation. Such analyses also have the potential of suggesting policy reforms and prescriptions that could contribute to more cooperative group relations and enhanced opportunities for all to have a fair chance at significant positive economic mobility.

Here, students in the course discuss their experiences.

What was the most different about this Duke Immerse semester than a “typical” Duke semester?

Tionne Barmer: I think something that’s great is that we have all four classes together and with the same professors so I think you definitely get to know everyone on a personal basis. You get to benefit from that group dynamic, which is really nice because we can all bond over doing the work or traveling or living together when we were in New Orleans or when we were in South Africa, so I think that part was very nice.

Donovan Bendana: I think what’s most unique about this semester is all of us are really interested in the topics and the issues that we’re learning about and it’s not “Oh, I’m taking this class as a requirement” or “I’m not really interested in this, I’m just trying to fill an arts credit” or something like that. But with this program, everyone’s really interested in the topics and really engaged and it pushes me, at least, to learn more and do better in the class.

Kevin Solomon: I also really like how this program is structured on the same theme. Like we looked at the same topics that are all very similar about urban politics, about urban affairs. So as in a regular or typical semester, I would take statistics and English and maybe a political science course — I’d have a very eclectic range of courses. And this program I get to really focus and dive into a topic like gentrification or transportation policy. And that’s really unique and, rather than just getting the broad outlines, you really get to see it and understand it.

For example, I get to see how transportation connects to affordable housing and I get to see how that compares in the United States and in South Africa. Whereas, in another class, if it’s just a regular semester, I might just learn about one topic and then we’ll go to the next topic and not really see the connections and draw comparisons.


Alycia Parker: I think this semester has been a lot different for me because I’m also taking another class with this class in order to keep track with my Arabic major. So it’s been a little difficult for me especially with going on our trips for three whole weeks of the semester. But I think it’s definitely do-able and it has been extremely interesting to be in this group of people and to be able to learn about a theme, and then go into the field and do work. I feel like that’s so much different than the standard class you’d have at Duke. You can learn about these same concepts in class but you wouldn’t necessarily be conducting interviews learning about spacial intake in the same way as seeing it. I think it makes it a lot more real and tangible to what we’re learning.

The four courses in this Duke Immerse program focused on governance, public policy, and social interactions in cities and urban neighborhoods. If someone was to ask you what, if anything, about these topics is of any general societal concern or significance, what would your answer be?

Kyra Exterovich-Rubin: I think I’m still thinking about the last book we just read which was really, really important to me. We just read “Behind the White Picket Fence,”[written by Sarah Mayorga-Gallo, a 2012 Duke sociology alum] talking about the hypocrisy of progressive ideologies and how there’s a hypocrisy between those ideologies and how they manifest in social interactions in terms of racial integration. And I think that’s important right now especially for college campuses where we live in these very literal bubbles and we don’t always feel a personal mandate to enact these values in how we live our lives.

Tionne: I think, for me, I’ve taken a lot of economics classes at Duke and I think just generally the amount of inequality that’s present even in the United States has been staggering — and it’s increasing year by year. We’ve seen that very much throughout the course. In looking at some of the things we saw in New Orleans and Atlanta, and to compare those things in a country like South Africa, which has a history of apartheid and gender inequality, we noticed that these two countries are kind of similar and have a lot of connections. It really just places a light behind the fact that there is a lot of inequality here right now on the ground.

The class trips to Atlanta, New Orleans, Pietermaritzburg, and Durban are described as fieldwork trips. How did they relate to the rest of your classes and coursework? How did they contribute or enhance your learning?

Donovan: We would have class for about– maybe more like a field trip — for around 3-4 hours everyday, usually in the morning. And what was great about these trips is that we had a lot of free time in the afternoon. I think Professor Haynie was really adamant about making sure we had time to really explore the cities, both in Atlanta and New Orleans and in South Africa, ourselves and often when we were just alone, that’s when we started to realize things we read about. It was really interesting.

Kyra: In terms of the research we were doing, we looked at websites like Trulia that people actually look at in terms of how they buy homes. There are ratings for crime and educational attainment and those are things that people use to make their everyday decisions about where they want to live. And they will actually analyze those statistics and it’ll kind of be indicators of an impoverished neighborhood.


Erin McDermott: I think we used a lot of the skills we gained through class on the trips. When we were visiting different neighborhoods, we could see how structural inequality, for example, plays out. Each researcher came to these conclusions because we were actually seeing the neighborhood itself. And even that happened a lot in retrospect, where we’ll talk about something in class and be like ‘Oh, we actually noticed that in New Orleans’ or ‘we noticed that in Atlanta’. So it was a unique experience, as far as drawing upon what we learn in class. We actually saw the real-world applications form.

How did you learn about the program?

Donovan: I was actually in another class with Duke political science professor Ashley Jardina — Minorities in American Politics. I really enjoyed it. I actually didn’t apply for the program until very early May. I had already registered for classes, but when I was registering for classes I was trying to find more classes on minority politics. And I wasn’t very successful. But then I stumbled upon Duke Immerse and I saw ‘Wow, four of these are minority politics classes.’ It’s perfect– so I told Spencer and we both applied.

Are there things you learned from these trips that you couldn’t get from reading and audio-visual materials?

Josh Podl: I think for me in particular, we read a lot. The trip to New Orleans was very eye-opening for me because we read a lot about Hurricane Katrina and what’s happened after that and we read a lot about efforts to revitalize New Orleans. But, I don’t think you get the whole picture about what areas are being rebuilt and what areas are being neglected. And we definitely saw that when we were in the 9th Ward. We were in this development neighborhood, in these areas that seem like they really haven’t been touched since Katrina. There’s so many abandoned houses, vegetation that’s just growing like crazy, porches you can still see from the remains of houses, the roads were extremely bumpy. And then we go to more, maybe middle class, or more affluent neighborhoods in New Orleans where everything looks pretty much normal and you would have no clue that a huge natural disaster had hit. So, it’s just crazy. You don’t really get the picture of where the money is going to and who’s really being helped.

Donovan: Even for me, I’m actually from New Orleans. So that was part of the reason why I wanted to take this class. I’ve lived there my whole life and I would think ‘Oh I know about New Orleans and its racial inequality issues,’ but no. Taking this class I was still learning about new aspects of New Orleans that I had never known before.

Even just going to the 9th Ward, I realized that I don’t go to the 9th Ward a lot– I’ve maybe only been there once, I’d just drive by it. And my group is the one that did the presentation on that neighborhood, so really delving into that neighborhood, specifically and learning about it was meaningful for me because I’ve had a very different experience with Katrina than maybe someone in the neighborhood next to me or definitely than someone from the lower 9th Ward. The experiences vary a lot based on socioeconomic experience. I was constantly learning new things about New Orleans…

Just driving through the lower 9th Ward and really seeing how like the roads were just in disarray, driving through a part of my city that looked like it was in an underdeveloped country was almost just staggering like ‘This is my home, this is where I live. And these issues are right at the forefront.’

Spencer Bandeen: On that topic, I think a lot of the neighborhoods that we saw aren’t necessarily the most tourist-y destinations, so I think you could go to New Orleans or Atlanta and you won’t have the same experience that we just did. And in South Africa, we went to Durban and Pietermaritzburg. And most of the time when people go to South Africa, or heard that we were, they’re like ‘Oh, you’re going to Cape Town or Johannesburg’. But what we were seeing was more authentic to what we’ve been learning and I think it’s more applicable.

Kyra: We read a book earlier this semester called “Evicted” which is about homelessness in Wisconsin and I’m from Wisconsin. Reading that just kind of shook me because race is not discussed in Wisconsin. Everyone has a very ‘we don’t see color’ attitude about it.

I had never really been passionate about housing as a policy issue. I’m a public policy and philosophy major and so I really care about people being able to achieve upward mobility. It’s crazy how it never really hit home for me. I never had to consider that personally. And I think driving through and just seeing boarded up windows and overgrown lawns and it’s just seeing how inaccessible it is for people to live their day-to-day lives was really striking for me and made me reconsider what is now being discussed back in my home town, my home state.

Kevin: One thing that I think is amazing about this program is that it really just pushed me to think more critically and to challenge my understandings of other cities too, not just Atlanta and New Orleans. But it makes me want to try to have a more wholesome and nuanced understanding and picture of other cities. When I go home for the break in St. Petersburg, Florida or when I go to Grand Rapids, Michigan or Chicago, Illinois the same lessons and the same way that we looked at New Orleans, Atlanta, Pietermaritzburg, Durban; I have used that lens to view other cities. I don’t just look at the romanticized part or the beautiful tourist attractions, I look at the good and the bad, too.

Duke Immerse students with Rev. Winston Jackson, who provided a tour of his neighborhood in the Mooi River community, 2017.

Now that you’ve had this experience, what are some of the questions you ask yourself when visiting new cities?

Kevin: For instance, one of things I ask is: Downtown is where everybody seems to be, it’s where all the activity is, it’s where the entertainment is, where the economic employment opportunities are– but what about somebody who lives five miles out? Is there a place that they can go? Or do they have to come all the way downtown every time? And so just asking ‘why do people occupy these places and how does that affect their interactions and experiences?’ is definitely something that this program has encouraged me to think about.

Spencer: One of the things I learned, especially when we visited New Orleans and Atlanta, is just how very unique the history of race relations in America is and how it still plays out today and how desegregation still hasn’t occurred. And I think as the public image of America is so different than what we’ve been learning about and how the issues really are. In a sense, this was eye opening because a lot of what we’re doing is pertaining to current events– I mean they’re happening. We were looking, in the beginning of this year, at how some of these statues are being taken down, the riots surrounding the protests in Charlottesville. It seems very relevant to be taking the course, especially this semester.

Kevin: I think another really cool aspect to the program is that not only do we get to understand the United States and South Africa, but the lessons that we learned are intended to be extended beyond to other countries too. Just generally we learned about inequality and what shapes inequality and how everybody spirals and how it’s intertwined and just how difficult it is to try to overcome obstacles. And I think that that is a universal reality, that’s not something that’s just true in the United States and South Africa. So if I study abroad next year and I’m in Europe, or I was in Ecuador last summer– like a lot of the same things that I saw in Ecuador are also true here and will be true if I study abroad somewhere else.

Do you think the Duke immerse experience will have any lasting effects on the rest of your Duke academic career, and what you will do after Duke? If so, how or in what ways?

Kevin: I think one of the biggest impacts that this had on me for my college career is that I was considering whether or not I wanted to work or do an internship over the summer that’s in the United States, or if I was going to try to go abroad and get university funding. And I think one thing I would say is that this program really opened up my eyes to see that there are real problems here in the United States and we’re addressing it in a manner where they can be very much overlooked. And I think this program really made it feel more important or urgent to be doing work here in the United States, even though there are so many problems that are going on elsewhere.

Donovan: I’m an International and Comparative Studies major and this course has changed my plan– I was going to concentrate in Europe but this course has changed me to concentrate in Africa because of our experiences in South Africa.

Kevin: I am now doing a minor in African and African American Studies that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Tionne: I’m a senior so [my plans haven’t changed or anything like that] realistically. The thing for me– and this is kind of cheesy and I’m not really that type of person – but when we were in South Africa I remember this particular experience: we were in one of the local neighborhoods talking to one of the guys who was giving the tour, he was a pastor in that neighborhood, and he was talking about the violence and the poverty and the trauma, the general lack of economic mobility that the community faced.

And we read about these things in school, you know, we read about them in the papers, and it’s all good and then we go back to our dorms, we go back to our $70,000/yr school.

I think, when we went to that community, it was a very emotional experience for me and one that I’ll remember just because he talked about how, even after all the things they faced, after their family members were killed and all these things, they were still able to rebuild everything they had and just build up from the ground up. And you can see how they just kind of started off just having mud homes– people were trying to build their homes until they were actual real structures. I think that is just something I carried with me. Even when I’m thinking about ‘Oh I can’t do this’ or something, there’s people who are building from the ground up.

Kyra: Going off of that, when we went to a village– that experience was one of my favorites and I think one of the most meaningful to me on the whole trip. We sat in on this women’s self-help group for coming together to build small businesses and sell their crafts so that they can then learn the financial skills of investing and banking and things like that. And they were so grateful and happy and joyful and had this community that was so strong and colorful and that stood in such stark contrast with the gated community in Pietermaritzburg that was so wealthy and so sterile. As a community they would, I think every Monday, collectively would put in the amount which was like 20 Rand and it was like 15 women and that was all they could use and they were so happy and so optimistic.

Spencer: Two things. One of them is: Immediately following our trip, I stayed with a friend who lived in a gated community in South Carolina and having learned on the concept of private facilities and what individuals who live in gated communities can really change my perspective of them to really see how that plays out, concepts like neighborhood watch, and other things that I could then see in person. And just going off what Kyra said, we witnessed this microfinance group and, immediately after coming back from South Africa, I applied to a DukeEngage that does microfinance in India that I’ll be doing that this summer.

Alycia: When we were leaving, Kyra had left her backpack in the house and they just like came running with the backpack and I was like ‘Wow, they could have like kept this’ like they had no obligation to return it but the woman came running and I think that really just sticks with me. Welcoming us into the community, they didn’t have to do that.

Governance, Policy, and Society is led by Professors Kerry Haynie and Ralph Lawrence. For more information on this program visit:

This story also appeared on Duke Today.

Book Talk: The Politics of Blackness in Brazil

Gladys Mitchell-Walthour is a political scientist specializing in Brazilian racial politics. Her work examines Afro-Brazilian racial identification, discrimination, political behavior and opinion.


She will discuss her latest book, “The Politics of Blackness: Racial Identity and Political Behavior in Contemporary Brazil” (Cambridge University Press), on Wednesday, Nov. 29th at noon in 225 Friedl on Duke’s East Campus. 

Mitchell-Walthour, an assistant professor of public policy and political economy in the Department of Africology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, uses an intersectional approach to analyze the impact of the experience of race on Afro-Brazilian political behavior in the cities of Salvador, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. Taking into account the experience of racial discrimination, she seeks to explain Afro-Brazilian political behavior with a focus on affirmative action policy and Law 10.639 (requiring that African and Afro-Brazilian history be taught in schools).

Mitchell-Walthour has also co-authored two edited volumes as well as the book, Brazil’s New Racial Politics (2010), with Bernd Reiter. She has published articles in Racial and Ethnic Studies (2010), The National Political Science Review (2011), and Latin American Politics and Society (2009) among others.

Mitchell-Walthour holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago, a master of public policy from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. in political science and African & African-American Studies from Duke University. In addition, she was a visiting research fellow at Duke’s Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), and a Samuel DuBois Cook Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Gender in the Social Sciences (REGSS) at Duke.

Duke Fellow Explores U.S./German Cultural Differences

For Thomas Stelzl, a semester spent as a high school exchange student in Wisconsin seeded a strong interest in American culture, and how it differs from German culture and politics.

“I’m drawn to American Studies because of the U.S. influence in the world,” said Stelzl who came to Duke from the University of Passau in Bavaria for a two-month, post-graduate research fellowship sponsored by the Duke Club of Germany and the Bavarian American Academy.

“When I tell people I am in American Studies and they ask what it is, I say ‘cultural studies.’ Sometimes I get as a response, ‘American culture, does it exist?’” Stelzl said. “People think of culture as being this Shakespearean thing. It’s different in the U.S. There is a distinctive American culture very different from European and German culture.”

Stelzl’s research straddles several fields including American Studies, political science and intercultural communication. In Germany, he is a lecturer and Ph.D. candidate who teaches seminars in cultural studies and American literature, exploring iconic moments in U.S. history such as Watergate and 9/11.

At Duke, Stelzl has been able to focus on researching and writing his Ph.D. thesis, tentatively titled, “Cultural Bias in Post-9/11 German and American Foreign Policy – An Intercultural Comparison.”

Stelzl says that although Germany and the U.S. have a lot in common in terms of trade, human rights and shared values most of the time, there are moments when foreign policy doesn’t translate well — or not as well as we expected.

“Of course, there are hard reasons like different capabilities and interests, but a very important factor is cultural differences. For example, American exceptionalism. There is no German equivalent anymore,” he said. “In post-WWII Germany there cannot be an equivalent.”

Stelzl says the countries also differ in their tolerance for military action with Germans much more hesitant to use their military because of historical experience.

“When was the last time massive numbers of German military forces were unilaterally sent abroad? That’s something we don’t want to repeat,” said Stelzl who is being hosted on campus by Duke’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender (REGSS). He will return to Germany in November.

“The fellowship is really helping because I have been able to get a lot of new input, and I can get away from the daily routine of my job and focus on my research for two months,” said Stelzl who has made use of library resources, attended lectures and panel discussions on campus, and also enjoyed festivities surrounding the inauguration of Duke’s president.

“My university won a prize for being the most beautiful campus in Germany. It’s a young university at the intersection of three rivers. But I think Duke can compete with the beauty of campus. It’s a bit like Disneyland for academics.”

Duke Flags Lowered: Samuel Dubois Cook, Duke’s First African-American Faculty Member, Dies

From Duke Today:

Samuel Dubois Cook, the first African-American faculty member at Duke University whose career of scholarship and activism inspired numerous scholars and students of all backgrounds, died Tuesday. He was 88.

Through more than 60 years in higher education, Cook had a distinguished record as a political scientist, scholar, educator, author, teacher, administrator, civil and human rights activist and public servant.

“Samuel DuBois Cook was a devoted member of the Duke community who had a special place in Duke’s history,” said Duke President Richard H. Brodhead.  “A scholar of political science who was intimately involved with the leadership of the civil rights movement, he was the bearer of the vision of the beloved community and, throughout his life, worked for a society based on inclusion, reconciliation, and mutual respect for all. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife and family and express our gratitude for all he did for Duke.”

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Interdisciplinary Team Receives Funding to Involve Community in Research on Tenancy Support Services for the Homeless

nov2016_housingashealthcare_trioFrom Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute:

When Mina Silberberg, associate professor in Duke Health’s Department of Community and Family Medicine, and Donna Biederman, assistant professor in the Duke School of Nursing, first approached Emily Carmody to see if she would be willing to apply with them for a training and research grant, Carmody had a slight hesitation.

“I’ve been advocating for use of Medicaid for tenancy support services for about six years,” said Carmody, a program director with the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness. “Unless your project involves that, I don’t think I can do it.”

It was an answer Silberberg and Biederman were delighted to hear.

Donna Biederman

Donna Biederman

“We were looking for a project that was driven by community needs, and here it was,” says Biederman.

The three women applied, and in September were accepted, into the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program, a new initiative sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and led by the University of Minnesota. The goal of the program is to nurture leaders who are comfortable working in interdisciplinary teams and skilled at using research to promote policy changes that can affect health. The three-year program includes leadership training, opportunities to explore different research methods, and research funds to conduct and apply high-quality, community-engaged, action-oriented health research with the intent to affect policy around social determinants of health.

Mina Silberberg

Mina Silberberg

The timing couldn’t have been better.

In 2015, the federal government clarified that states may choose to use Medicaid funds for providing housing support, recognizing that stable housing is a crucial component for good health. Because some people who have experienced homelessness often face challenges in maintaining housing, even when they can find it, experts are favoring combining affordable housing with tenancy support services. These services can range from assistance with housing applications to education about self-care, socialization, and other skills that may prevent someone from becoming homeless again. However, there is no national consensus about what these services should include, and what infrastructure is needed to ensure that the services are adequately, appropriately, and properly provided.

Emily Carmody

Biederman, Carmody, and Silberberg will attempt to bridge this gap through a study of two North Carolina programs that are in the vanguard of efforts to house the homeless: Homeward Bound, an organization instrumental in decreasing chronic homelessness in Buncombe County, NC; and the University of North Carolina’s Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health, which has led the state mental health system in making the connection between housing and recovery from mental illness.

“We want to learn from these agencies about what they think the services should include and how to train people to provide them,” says Silberberg.

As North Carolina moves forward in using Medicaid funds for tenancy support services, this team’s goal is to document best practices that could be helpful not only in North Carolina, but in others states as well.

“It is exciting to think about research that can help Medicaid develop the definition of tenancy support services with real information from the field,” says Carmody.


The team will dive deep into the community to discover promising practices and definitions, talking not only to program administrators, but also to front-line workers and to the clients who receive services. They will be asking program directors what services they perceive as most important, and what local, state, and federal policies support effective tenancy support services. They will be asking frontline workers what training they need. And they will be asking people receiving tenancy support services to tease out what is most helpful to them.

“We want to do rigorous research, but the broader point isn’t just about doing good research, but about working with the stakeholders to find out what is important to them and develop a definition that meets their needs,” says Biederman.

Sometimes it may simply be a case of clarifying details, says Carmody. “For example, a program director may say it is important to teach a client to maintain a house, or to learn to cook, but a front-line worker will tell you that plunging a toilet is a specific skill that should be taught, and a client may say they need to learn more about how to store food properly,” she says.


The team believes that their diversity of experience will be helpful in combining research with engaging stakeholders and navigating the policy world. Biederman is a nurse with a doctorate in public health and has worked with homeless people in multiple clinical settings; Carmody is a licensed clinical social worker and has a wealth of knowledge about policies in North Carolina to fight homelessness; and Silberberg is a social scientist who has considerable experience in community health program evaluation.

“Our initial meetings have been amazing because everyone brings overlapping but different areas of expertise,” says Silberberg. “It is clear that the ideas we come up with as a result of bouncing ideas off each other we couldn’t come up with alone.”

As if to emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the perspectives needed to improve the health of the homeless, the RWJ Foundation grant is being administered through the Duke Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Social Sciences.

Already, the multiple perspectives are blending within the team.

“It is clear that to make a difference in population health, you have to look beyond medical care,” says Silberberg, the academic health researcher. “There is a huge opportunity for researchers to learn how to make what they do useful and used in the crucial debates about policy and the environment that we live in.”

Carmody, the community advocate, expresses the same sensibility from a different perspective. “The vision I walk toward every day is that every Duke patient will have a home to be discharged to,” she says. “But this is the first time I’ve ever helped design and implement a research project. We’ve just started, and I’m already thinking that the next time someone comes in with a research idea, it will be less scary to take on.”



Changing Demographics: The 2016 Election in Black and Brown

The 2016 election in black and brown panel discussion held in 217 Perkins on Thursday evening, October 13 2016.

From left to right: Kerry Haynie, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Dorian Warren, and Mark Anthony Neal. Photo credit: Chris Hildreth, Duke Photography.

“There is a social crisis in white America,” said Dorian Warren, a political analyst and former host of MSNBC’s “Nerding Out.”

“All the dysfunctions that have historically plagued black people are now also affecting poor whites,” Warren said, referencing poverty, lack of education, higher death rates and the scourge of drug addiction, among other social ills.

“For the first time, they think their children are going to have a worse life than they did.”

Warren, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, was one of the panelists during a wide-ranging Thursday evening discussion hosted by the Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity (DCORE), “The 2016 Election in Black and Brown.”

The panel also included Duke alumna Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Ph.D. ’07, an MSNBC and Telemundo contributor; and Duke political science and African and African American Studies associate professor Kerry Haynie.

Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of black popular culture and DCORE co-director, moderated the conversation about the political power of Latinos, blacks, women, working-class whites and other ethnic groups.

“It’s troubling to watch as a political scientist,” said Haynie, referring to the racism and xenophobia marking Donald Trump’s campaign that many scholars thought was a relic of the past.

He said the election results will have an enormous effect on people of color. Citing a Pew study, Haynie said there is an increase in voter diversity as the demographics of the U.S. change and there are more eligible Latino voters.

“I think this growth is the answer to what we see from Trump and his followers,” Haynie said, attributing the zeal, for example, to enact voter ID laws to anxiety some whites feel due to the country’s changing demographics. “Where poor whites are hurting the most, they’ve been governed by Republicans.”

Warren predicted that anger over police killings of unarmed citizens will mobilize voters and that social movements, such as Black Lives Matter, could help determine the White House’s social and economic agenda.

“Progressive folks need to think about the appropriate strategy to hold the president accountable,” Warren said.

“Trump talking about ‘law and order’ is a reaction,” to the Black Lives Matter movement, Haynie said. “It remains to be seen whether that movement will show up at the polls Nov. 8.”

Haynie described “linked fate,” the idea that black people, no matter their socioeconomic class, will suffer the same ramifications of structural inequality and racism. Therefore, they tend to vote similarly, supporting Democrats, he said.

DeFrancesco Soto said that, to understand the interests of ethnic Latinos and how they will vote, it’s important to understand why they immigrated to the U.S.

“Some come for economic reasons. Mexicans and Dominicans tend to have higher poverty rates. Cubans, Guatemalans came over for political reasons. Their interests are going to be different off the bat,” DeFrancesco Soto said. “It’s easier to cast Latinos in the immigration bucket.”

She said Republicans had made inroads with the Latino community in past elections, pushing through legislation they favored, such as No Child Left Behind.

“There was a time when the party was on the cusp of really laying down a foundation with the Latino electorate,” DeFrancesco Soto said. “I believe core Latino Republicans would be receptive to a born-again Republican Party.”

She added that a newly leaked email from the Democratic Party with “needy Latinos” in the subject line underscores Latino leaders’ mistrust of Hillary Clinton.

“Latinos have had questions about Clinton. They feel they are being taken for granted,” she said.

In regards to Clinton’s reputation in general, Haynie said she does have “high negatives,” but some of the things pinned on her are not her own doing.

“A critique of President Bill Clinton’s policies should be just that, a critique of his policy. I think this only happens to women in politics — you get saddled with something your husband did,” Haynie said.

Neal added that there is a subset of people who cannot accept a woman being the face of the “American empire.” The panelists said that other countries have been more accepting of female leaders and perhaps that is indicative of the fragility of the country.

“The identity politics happening in this election is around white men,” Warren said. “There is a real feeling of loss that is not going away. I just want to turn to them (white men) and say, ‘It’s going to be OK. You still live in an empire.’”

The event was co-sponsored by The Graduate School and the Department of Political Science.

DCORE is an interdisciplinary association of centers, working groups and scholars who research the cultural, political, legal and social dimensions and consequences of racial and ethnic identity.  For more information, visit


The 2016 Election in Black and Brown

The Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity (DCORE)


The 2016 Election in Black and Brown
5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13
Perkins 217, West Campus


A moderated discussion of the role of race and ethnicity in the U.S. presidential election. Free and open to the public.





Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Ph.D. ‘07

MSNBC,, and Telemundo contributor
Director of Community Outreach, Center for Mexican-American Studies, University of Texas




Dorian T. Warren
Fellow, Roosevelt Institute
Former host of MSNBC’s “Nerding Out”






Kerry Haynie
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Co-Director, Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity








Moderated by

Mark Anthony Neal
Professor, African and African American Studies, Duke University
Co-Director, Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity


Topics include:

• the importance of the black and brown vote
• racism and xenophobia in a presidential campaign
• the consequences for people of color under a Clinton or Trump administration
• the future of black and Latino politics and race relations in the U.S.

Q & A to follow.

Co-sponsored by The Graduate School.


Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Ph.D. ‘07
MSNBC,, and Telemundo contributor
Director of Community Outreach, Center for Mexican-American Studies, University of Texas

DeFrancesco Soto received her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University during which time she was a National Science Foundation Fellow. She is currently a Professor at the University of Texas where she was selected as one of the university’s “Game Changing” faculty. DeFrancesco Soto teaches in the Department of Mexican-American and Latino Studies and is a Fellow at the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Named one of the top 12 scholars in the country by Diverse magazine DeFrancesco Soto previously taught at Northwestern University and Rutgers.

DeFrancesco Soto translates social science research into a more relatable form of information for a wide variety of audiences. She is a contributor to MSNBC and as well as a regular political analyst for Telemundo. She is also widely published in both academic and popular outlets such as POLITICO and Talking Points Memo.


Dorian Warren
Fellow, Roosevelt Institute
Former host of MSNBC’s “Nerding Out”

Warren is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and Board Chair of the Center for Community Change. A scholar of inequality and American politics, he taught for over a decade at the University of Chicago and Columbia University, where he was co-director of the Columbia University Program on Labor Law and Policy. He is a former MSNBC Contributor and was host and executive producer of “Nerding Out” on MSNBC’s digital platform.

Warren has worked to advance racial, economic and social justice campaigns for over two decades with many progressive national and local organizations including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice, and the AFL-CIO, among others. He is also co-chair of the AFL-CIO’s Commission on Racial and Economic Justice Advisory Council. He currently serves on several boards including Alliance for a Greater New York, Working Partnerships USA, and The Nation Magazine Editorial Board.

As a commentator on public affairs, Warren has appeared regularly on television and radio including NBC Nightly News, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, BET, BBC, NPR, Bloomberg, & NY1, among other outlets. He has also written for The Nation, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Salon, Washington Post, New York Times,, and Boston Review.

In 2013, he was included on the list of NBC’s theGrio’s 100 people making history today. After growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Warren received his B.A. from the University of Illinois and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Yale University.


Kerry Haynie
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Co-Director, Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity
Duke University

Haynie’s research and teaching interests are in race and ethnic politics, intersections of race and gender, legislative processes, state-level politics, southern politics, and comparative urban politics. He is one of the editors of the journal, Politics, Groups, and Identities. He has been published in numerous journals including The Journal of PoliticsLegislative Studies QuarterlyPolitics, Groups, and Identities; and the International Journal of Africana Studies.

His publications include New Race Politics in America: Understanding Minority and Immigrant Voting (co-edited with Jane Junn), and African American Legislators in the American States, among others.

Haynie has traveled widely speaking on race and politics, including invited talks in France, Germany, and South Africa. He is the co-winner of the American Political Science Association’s Women and Politics Research Section’s Best Paper Award for 2012. He was recently elected co-president of the American Political Science Association’s section on Race and Ethnic Politics.