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2020-2021 Awards

In 2020-2021, the Office of Global Affairs awarded $170,000+ to 29 outstanding projects, sparking cross-continental and multi-disciplinary research collaborations, innovative virtual curriculum, and more.

The Global Innovation Fund (GIF) seeds initiatives and programs developing cross-college and cross-continent collaborations that enhance the University of Washington’s global reach. Awards provide initial funding for faculty research proposals, leading-edge student experiences, and collaborations aligned with the UW’s strategic initiatives and regional priorities.

In addition to administering the annual Research grant cycle, GIF piloted new Teaching & Curriculum Awards in Summer 2020. These awards follow the pivot UW instructors have made during COVID-19 and seeks to amplify those efforts by providing funding for the addition of a global module, project or innovation to a course.

Learn about the application process

Awards overview

29 awards offered
$170,000+ awarded
$95,000+ matched by schools, colleges, partners
14 schools, colleges, programs
5 regions: Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, Oceania

Applications overview

95 applications received
$659,000+ funds requested
15 schools, colleges, and campuses

  • Highly competitive selection process
  • Clear need for globally-focused seed funding

Research Awards

Cynthia Chen, Daniel Abramson, Payman Arabshahi, Sreeram Kannan, Nicole Errett
Civil & Environmental Engineering, Urban Planning, Electrical & Computer Engineering Public Health
International area: Japan

This proposal seeks to build greater capacity for enhancing community resilience to large-scale disruptions such as earthquakes and COVID-19. The ultimate goal is to garner future much-larger external grants to develop socially- and culturally-aware communication, information sharing and resource matching technologies that will support community resilience. Its novelty is reflected in two aspects: First is to recognize that communities have unique assets–physical (e.g., goods and places), human (e.g., skills and knowledge), and social resources (social ties and sense of community between friends and neighbors). The technologies to be developed will automatically recognize the unique resources in a community, and mesh them together to support communication, information sharing and resource matching needs. Second is to recognize and incorporate people’s varying levels of willingness to share resources with people of different social ties. This proposal connects and builds on three active and potentially related but separate UWJapan initiatives: an NSF-JST (Japan Science and Technology Agency) project with Nagoya University; a UW-Kobe University partnership; and the UW-Tohoku Academic Open Space Agreement, which will lead to the development of a study abroad program focused on the Great East Japan Earthquake, international COVID-19 research, and Tohoku’s engagement in the upcoming NIEHS and PHI supported Disaster Research Response (DR2) workshop. The proposal aims: (1) to develop synergies among a set of core partners that are geographically dispersed and culturally diverse, but face similar risks; and (2) explore cross-campus and trans-Pacific opportunities in curriculum development.

Katie Davis, Alexis Hiniker, Molly Adrian
Information School, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
International area: United Kingdom, Belgium

This project brings together approximately 25 leading international scholars studying youth digital wellness for a two-day virtual convening to take stock of the current research landscape; outline a collective research agenda for the coming decade, and establish new cross-disciplinary collaborations to set that agenda in motion. This work will position UW as a leader in global, interdisciplinary research related to youth wellbeing in a digital age, an area that is of vital societal importance and directly aligned with the Population Initiative. Recognizing the pervasiveness of technologies in young people’s lives, researchers from a variety of disciplines seek to understand individual, environmental, and technology-related factors that shape young people’s experiences with the devices and application they use regularly. The knowledge generated from this work is critical for the design of new technologies and the development of strategies and policies that support youth wellbeing and positive development in a digital era.

Nadine C. Fabbi, Emma Elliot-Groves, Patricia Johnston
Canadian Studies, Education, International Studies
International area: Canada

Fifteen scholars (including two UW faculty, a UW Banting Fellow and four Indigenous scholars), representing 10 universities in Canada and the U.S., have come together to propose the building of an international research network focused on Indigenous approaches to health and social services in the Canadian Arctic, Alaska and Vancouver Island. These scholars are dedicated to changing the narrative of health/social services to be more inclusive of Indigenous epistemologies and approaches to social and psychological well-being. While much academic literature has been concerned with the socioeconomic challenges facing Inuit in Arctic communities, as well as other Indigenous peoples, the social and cultural supports, services, and community-based work that is occurring to address these challenges is less discussed. Social service providers, community projects, Inuit youth, families, and Elders have provided countless hours of input to researchers, policy leaders, and organizations for how to better serve and support their communities. This research project offers a place where these insights can be highlighted and where ideas that challenge normalized or dominant approaches, may also be explored.

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Jon E. Froehlich, Qing Shen, Rebeca de Buen Kalman, Manaswi Saha
Computer Science, Urban Design and Planning, Public Policy and Governance
International area: Mexico

Sidewalks play a crucial role in a city’s urban mobility and quality of life. In the US, studies demonstrate the public health, economic, environmental, and accessibility benefits of sidewalks; however, little work has examined sidewalks in developing regions. A key problem is the lack of sidewalk assessments, high-quality datasets, and pedestrian-focused analyses. In our work, we are exploring a two-fold solution: first, to develop new sidewalk data collection techniques that are fast, inexpensive, and reliable using remote crowdsourcing, machine learning, and online map imagery. Second, to leverage this data to enable new pedestrian-oriented mapping tools and analytics not previously possible.

Seung-Jin Lee, Jim Thatcher
Tacoma Engineering & Technology, Tacoma Urban Studies
International area: France, South Korea

The environmental footprint method provides a comprehensive and flexible framework for measuring the pressures of individual and community human activities on a range of aspects of the environment and helps identify potential measures to reduce them. Well-known examples include the carbon footprint, water footprint, and ecological footprint. The overall objective of the proposed study is to develop a new scientific method and tool to study the human toxicity and terrestrial ecotoxicity assessment and footprint using soil and air pollution data in major international cities. The two specific project objectives are 1) to conduct the human toxicity and terrestrial ecotoxicity assessment and footprint in the selected metropolitan areas by utilizing Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping; and 2) to develop educational materials to use at the UW, University of Technology of Troyes (France), and Inha University (South Korea) via class modules. In this study, we will show the human toxicity and terrestrial ecotoxicity footprint in the Seattle metropolitan area, Paris metropolitan area and Incheon Metropolitan City. The human toxicity and terrestrial ecotoxicity in the cities will be quantified using the ReCiPe method and characterization factors. ReCiPe is a life cycle assessment impact assessment method that translates emissions and resource extractions into a limited number of environmental impact scores by means of so-called characterization factors. The human toxicity and terrestrial ecotoxicity, expressed in mg 1,4-dichlorobenzeneequivalents (1,4 DCB-eqv.), are used as a characterization factor at the midpoint. We will start by collecting all related heavy metal data in the soil and air compartments. These elements will be mapped for significance and impact using techniques such as principal component analysis and geographically weighted regression models. Ultimately, the research approaches and results will contribute towards field-specific synergies between the U.S., France and South Korea.

Stephen Meyers, Megan McCloskey, Mark Harniss
Law, Societies & Justice, School of Law, Rehabilitation Medicine
International area: Peru

The Disability Inclusive Development Initiative (DIDI) is a platform for faculty, graduate and undergraduate students to engage with international policy and promote original research on inclusive development. Student fellows have supported research for UNFPA and UNESCO, among others. The goal of the current project is to continue efforts to expand the DIDI into a multi-country collaboration that will facilitate research partnerships as well as international learning opportunities for students. We anticipate doing this by partnering with researchers at Pontifica Universidad Catolica in Peru and the University of Brasilia on the following activities:

1. Engaging joint student groups to prepare amicus curiae briefs for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

2. Working with Peru’s Disability Commission, an umbrella organization of Disabled Persons Organizations to explore opportunities for students at UW to work as virtual “interns”. Student engagement will be piloted as part of a course to be taught in the Honors Program winter quarter 2021 on gender, disability and law but may provide a structure for future activities.

3. Hosting a webinar on our respective work open to all university members and members of the public. Topics are likely to include access to justice for women with disabilities, especially survivors of violence, the role of legal capacity in rights enforcement, and the impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities PWDs in Latin America.

4. Exploring related opportunities for collaboration with members of a network of disability rights advocacy organizations in Latin America, including disability rights programs in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile.

Finally, we are also exploring a shared research agenda continuing existing work on violence against women with disabilities and school-related violence against young people with disabilities in Latin America, with the goal of having at least one publishable article by the end of the year.

Irene Njuguna, Sarah Benki-Nugent, Brent Collett, Shyam Gollakota, Grace John-Stewart
Global Health, Psychiatry, Computer Science & Engineering, Pediatrics, Medicine
International area: Kenya

Globally, ~34 million children have disabling hearing loss. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) accounts for a disproportionately large number of these cases due to existing healthcare disparities. Late detection and treatment of hearing abnormalities results in speech, language, social, and academic delays. In developed counties, newborn screening programs result in the detection of hearing disabilities at an average age of 2-3 months versus 2.5-3 years in countries without screening programs. Due largely to the prohibitive cost (~$7,000 for standard equipment), only 2 countries in Africa conduct universal newborn hearing screening. Beyond the newborn period, hearing screening is also limited despite high prevalence of infectious and non-infectious conditions that may result to hearing loss. Smartphone-based technology developed by members of our team to assess hearing (oto-acoustic emissions [OAE]) and middle ear fluid (acoustic reflectometry and tympanometry) has the potential to facilitate hearing screening and diagnostics in resource limited settings (RLS). We propose a hearing screening project to 1) Increase awareness of emerging screening technologies and review options for RLS, 2) Determine feasibility of non-specialist screening and 3) Engage policy makers to determine the evidence needed to support a nationwide pediatric hearing screening program and to build a research agenda around pediatric hearing disabilities. Proposed activities include a stakeholder workshop incorporating policy makers, pediatricians, audiologists, community members and frontline health care workers, as well as a practical training and usability session with health workers.

Myra Parker, Christina E. Ore
International area: New Zealand

The novel coronavirus of 2019 (COVID-19) is the greatest public health problem facing Indigenous populations worldwide in the past century. The lack of a coordinated response from the U.S. federal government devasted American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities and highlighted existing gaps in the health care system. The high rates are attributed to contextual socio-environmental factors (e.g., lack of plumbing) and co-morbid risk factors (e.g., diabetes, vascular diseases). AIAN incidence of COVID-19 is 3.5 times that of non-Hispanic Whites, with death rates 19 times higher in some communities. In response, AIAN tribal leaders, communities and organizations quickly mobilized communications, internet access, and food and health care equipment distributions, leveraging tribal sovereignty to accomplish the emergency response. The New Zealand government responded decisively with a full lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19. Despite predictions of high infection rates, Maori had significantly lower rates of COVID-19 (8% compared to 16.5% nationally). This is attributed to a decentralized, culturally grounded community response by Maori leaders and communities in contrast to the “one size fits all” national policy. Ensuring tribal systems exercise their authority for continued response to the pandemic and vaccine distribution remains a critical tool to effectively maintain population health. The pandemic underscores the continuing need to address structural /systemic factors that have undermined Indigenous health and wellbeing for centuries. Our goal is to create an International Indigenous Gathering Grounds (IIGG), or community of practice, of tribal-serving health and health related organizations that will engage in reciprocal learning and work in service of strengthening tribal systems through research and practice.

Jennifer M. Ross, Zelda B. Zabinsky
Global Health, Medicine, Industrial & Systems Engineering
International area: Uganda

Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV are the leading infectious cause of death globally and TB and HIV services are being substantially disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is reducing available services for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment (e.g., re-allocation of staff, re-purposing of equipment, closed clinics) and people are not able, or are reluctant, to travel to receive services. High-burden countries, including Uganda and South Africa, are adopting different strategies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 by strategically allocating resources to provide treatment and preventive therapies.

Dynamic infectious disease transmission models can predict population health outcomes under scenarios that include the disruptive effects of COVID-19. This predictive capability will be used to inform strategies to efficiently allocate resources to mitigate COVID-19 impacts on TB/HIV disease burden. Our multi-disciplinary, international team of engineers, epidemiologists, and physicians has a dynamic transmission model of TB/HIV infection calibrated to high-burden countries in Africa. We are well-positioned to extend this model to incorporate the impact of COVID-19 on population health outcomes.

Aim 1: Estimate the impact of COVID-19 health service disruption on TB and HIV health outcomes.
Aim 2: Quantify the health impact of intervention strategies that respect COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical interventions and improve TB and HIV-related health outcomes.

Ana Lucia Seminario, Lynly Beard, Joseph Zunt, Elizabeth Bedford
Pediatric Dentistry, UW Libraries, Global Health
International area: Kenya

Creating research capacity includes the ability for junior investigators to publish their research projects. As reasonable as this seems in developed nations, it is not a simple task for researchers from low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) as there is evidence of unequal distribution among authorship favoring researchers from wealthy nations.

One way to decrease this gap is to train newly graduated professionals in the art of manuscript publishing. Our project, titled “Decreasing inequalities in global oral health: Let’s publish your thesis!” aims at providing the know-how on manuscript publication for junior postgraduate oral health professionals in Kenya. For the last 5 years, the Schools of Dentistry of the University of Washington and the University of Nairobi have collaborated on building up oral health research with the overarching aim to create research training and capacity in dental research.

This proof of concept is the result of existing and new cross-college, cross-discipline, and multi-country collaborations to increase engagement in Kenya – where UW has over 25 years of ongoing research partnership. Our overall goals include developing a remote course on manuscript writing, identifying journals for manuscript submission, follow up with reviewers’ comments until acceptance and increase networking by presenting results of published manuscripts in relevant conferences.

Teaching & Curriculum Awards

Rawan Arar, Law, Societies & Justice
We will learn about several genocides including the Holocaust and genocide against Indigenous peoples with a focus the United States as well as the Armenian, Rwandan, and Cambodian genocides. Our class will focus on knowledge production and the role of genocide museums as institutions that are established to reclaim contested stories and preserve a people’s history. With GIF’s support, our course will establish relationships with genocide museums in Jerusalem, Houston, Yerevan, Kigali, and Phnom Pen. We will draw questions from our readings to develop an interview protocol that students will use to engage with survivors and the ancestors of survivors.

Holly Barker, Anthropology, Burke Museum
This project supports four Pacific Islanders active in Indigenous canoe building and navigational practices in Oceania to center their epistemologies in our UW course this Fall, “Indigenous Epistemologies & Oceanic Canoes” (Anth 369). The guest speakers will work via Zoom to introduce UW students to their canoe organizations in Yap (Federated States of Micronesia), the Marshall Islands, Tonga, and the Solomon Islands as well as to teach students to decipher the canoe models at the Burke Museum as textbooks.

Timothy Billo, Program on the Environment
Working with Dr. Jorge Tomasevic of Universidad Austral de Chile, we will be doing an online exchange, comparing and contrasting the natural history of the Los Rios Province of Chile, with that of the similar seasonally wet temperate forests of the Washington Cascades region. Additionally, working with Camilo Marin of the Mapuche Indigenous group, along with representatives of Coast Salish tribes, we will be comparing and contrasting cultural relationships with nature in Los Rios, Chile and western Washington.

Jean Dennison, American Indian Studies
In the summer of 2020 Dr. Jean Dennison is using support from the Global Innovation fund to identify and build relationships with global Indigenous experts on the topics of environmental management, citizenship, education, and economic development. These readings and speakers are being incorporated into her American Indian Studies course “Native Nation Governance” (AIS 365) to enrich the situated case studies she teaches with.

Elizabeth Golden, Architecture
This graduate research seminar will address urban and architectural issues in Mexico City with a particular focus on social housing and mobility. These investigations will be remotely augmented by our partners on the ground in Mexico City who will provide background information and contemporary perspectives on significant housing projects in the city.

Michelle Habell-Pallán, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies
I will incorporate learning content from my canceled Honors Ecuador 2020 Summer Study Abroad Program into my GWSS Latina Cultural Production and Honors 390 Feminisms in the Borderlands courses. Learning content includes Zoom lectures by Ecuadorian research faculty and representatives from non-profit media and women’s rights organizations originally scheduled to participate in the summer program. Instead, I will create two interactive teaching modules that compare and contrast South American campaigns against intersectional gender and racial violence and against LGBTQ+ violence. Student teams will conduct interviews with international Zoom guests and utilize them to co-produce broadcast-quality podcasts.

Tracy Harachi, Social Work
We seek to expand our understanding of racism globally through the sharing of perspectives in the US during this time of heightened focus on racial inequity and the Black Lives Matter movement and within Namibia which continues to dismantle the legacies of colonialism since its independence only in 1990. Juniors from the UW School of Social Work program will be paired with counterparts from the Department of Social Work at the University of Namibia. The virtual exchange will center around a reading focused on white supremacy culture and its impact on organizations.

Jeremy Hess, Global Health
In brief, we will develop a series of twelve case studies on climate change and global health to incorporate into existing classes taught by faculty in the Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHanGE). The case studies will focus on a range of climate-sensitive health issues to demonstrate why climate change is an important factor to consider in global health risk assessment, policy development, programming, and communications. Each case will be set in a different location and will take a narrative approach to characterizing an existing or emerging climate-sensitive health threat. Cases will be designed to highlight impacts on individuals and households and to lay the foundation for discussion of how practitioners in health and other sectors should approach the issues, including surveillance, preparedness, response, and evaluation. Where possible, cases will be developed in collaboration with practice partners (e.g., Ministries of Health, non-governmental organizations) in given locations and designed to incorporate participation from these partners in case presentations.

Alan Moore, Education
The Master’s in Education Policy program will use the upcoming year to bolster our global reach by building new curricular offerings in comparative education, developing strategic partnerships, and engaging students in cross-cultural dialogue. The MEP program will offer, for the first time, a seminar on international and comparative education systems to feature an in-depth exploration of Singaporean education. The MEP Global Perspectives experience will culminate with a series of virtual engagements with educators, scholars and policy makers.

Sushil K. Oswal, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Tacoma
The purpose of this international collaboration is to bring together two student cohorts from Hungary and the United States to learn about the science and politics of COVID-19 as it is presently playing out on the global stage. Students will study the medical information and intrinsic approaches adopted by the two governments towards the crisis and how the communication of this information is received by the public.

Dorothy Reed, Civil & Environmental Engineering
I propose to create an international senior-level civil engineering capstone for design of a microgrid for a small community in a developing country in partnership with my colleague Prof. Amy Kim. This project will introduce students to the technical aspects of green electricity generation, delivery and storage, as well as concepts of global energy poverty, social equity, and the influence of cultural attitudes regarding the uses of electric power.

Yona Sipos, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Nutritional Sciences
This project will contribute to the international scope of our new undergraduate major in Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health by partnering with the Interdisciplinary Food Systems Teaching and Learning (IFSTAL) program at the University of Oxford. The program leads will present a seminar and interactive international learning activities within two UW courses to share their pioneering learning community and resource, particularly as it has been mobilized on various continents (Europe, Asia, Africa). The IFSTAL program focuses on developing a future workforce of food system analysts which aligns with the goals the Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health major.

Yen-Chu Weng, Program on the Environment
This project will design and implement a three-week unit of International Virtual Exchange (IVE) on “Climate Change and Society” by comparing experiences and perspectives from Taiwan and Washington State. Collaborating with students from National Taiwan University, students from both campuses will learn about challenges of climate change each region is confronting and discuss strategies for adaptation and mitigation through both synchronous and asynchronous online collaboration.

Valerie Trask, Foster School of Business
Awarded jointly with the Foster Global Business Center
While working on their own starting businesses, student entrepreneurs will be inspired by how others have taken their companies international. Through lectures and case studies, students will be exposed to distinctions in international markets; see how companies establish global licensing agreements to grow their footprint; and learn how to use entrepreneurship as a force of international good, by creating new potential for people
who desperately need it.

Ben Gardner, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, Bothell
Awarded jointly with the UW Center for Global Studies Curriculum Development Grants

Stephen Meyers, Law, Societies, and Justice, International Studies
Awarded jointly with the UW Center for Global Studies Curriculum Development Grants

Kosuke Niitsu, Nursing and Health Studies, Bothell
Awarded jointly with the UW Center for Global Studies Curriculum Development Grants