2017-2018 Graduate Working Groups on Global Issues

  • Challenges in International Development
    Contacts: Amanda Grittner / amanda.grittner@duke.edu // Javier Romero Haaker / javier.romero@duke.edu
    Challenges in International Development is a group of students conducting research in different fields of development economics such as health economics, industrial organization, the economics of education, and the political economy in many countries around the world. Our regular meetings follow a schedule that enables all group members to present their current work, new ideas, and challenges faced in their projects. The meetings aim at giving constructive feedback and suggesting potential research avenues while putting together different perspectives under the umbrella of the economics of development.
  • Electricity in Latin America & the Caribbean
    Contact: Edgar Virguez / edgar.virguez@duke.edu
    The overarching goal of this working group is to create a space studying the many challenges and opportunities arising as the energy sector of Latin America and the Caribbean undergoes transition and discussing ways in which a multidisciplinary (environmental-humanities) approach can provide new ways of understanding problems and formulating solutions.
  • Entrepreneurship & Preventive Medicine in Global Health
    Contacts: Pratik Doshi / pratik.doshi@duke.edu // Janice Wong / janice.wong@duke.edu
    What if there were a way to make public health profitable? Currently public health, as a field, has to rely on monetary assistance from governments and  philanthropists. The Entrepreneurship and Preventive Medicine in Global Health group aims to change that. By bringing together a truly multidisciplinary team, we hope to understand how entrepreneurship and the "start-up culture” can benefit public health goals on a global scale. We will bring students together from Health, Engineering, Business, Law, and other fields of study to discuss how certain pressing global health issues can be addressed through entrepreneurship, and we will have key resources for those students to come together and create a viable “start-up.” Our aim is to ignite dialogue and transform that conversation into action that can help people around the world.
  • *Explainable Artificial Intelligence in the Real World
    Contact: Akshit Budhraja / akshit.budhraja@duke.edu
    The development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems can often be subjective and biased, as evidenced by Microsoft's Tay Twitterbot, which had to be shut down in just 16 hours after it learned to be racist. With AI's increasing application in safety-critical systems such as medical devices, driverless cars, and even in smart homes, it is imperative that we find a way to communicate when and where an AI-enabled system is biased and/or could fail, so that we are able to develop resilient systems instead of brittle ones. The purpose of this working group is primarily to connect the graduate students working across medicine, engineering, business, law, policy, and the social sciences in the field of artificial intelligence. The group will be focusing on related themes such as 1) Explaining explainability, 2) Machine-learning algorithms, and 3) Visualizing explanations for experts vs. novices.
  • **Exploring Traditional Medicine in Africa
    Contacts: Lilian Chumba / lnw15@duke.edu // Blen Biru / bmb48@duke.edu // Frances Osei-Bensu / fao9@duke.edu
    During this academic year, our working group intends to engage people in a dialogue about the different forms of traditional medicine in Africa, historical trends, advantages and disadvantages of traditional African medicine and current applications of traditional African medicine. Through these discussions, we hope to debunk some myths people hold on traditional medicine and discuss ways in which we can uphold the beneficial aspects while getting rid of the harmful aspects of traditional medicine.
  • Global Environmental Health & Energy
    Contact: Emily Pakhtigian / emily.pakhtigian@duke.edu
    The purpose of the GEHE Working Group is to bring together students working on global environmental health, energy access and energy poverty. This group will create a forum for students to share their own research and writing to engage in a critical, interdisciplinary way with global health and energy challenges and to ignite a research and policy dialogue around an under-studied global issue.
  • Graduates Engineering & Researching Microbiomes (GERM)
    Contact: Billy Gerhard / william.gerhard@duke.edu
    This working group brings together students with a wide variety of academic backgrounds to examine complex microbial communities ("microbiomes"). This collective aims to incorporate students with many different areas of expertise, including engineering, biology, microbiology, bioinformatics, and computer science, among others. Through monthly meetings with invited speakers and optional member presentations, this group strives to improve cross-departmental collaboration for microbiome research, while also providing a forum for Duke researchers to trouble-shoot obstacles and internally peer-review ongoing projects.
  • Humor & Politics
    Contacts: Chris Kennedy / csk10@duke.edu // Brian Spisiak / brian.spisiak@duke.edu // Charles Nathan / charles.nathan@duke.edu
    Using literature from different cultures and time periods, as well as film, television and artistic material ranging from the intellectual and satirical to slapstick and even the scatological, Humor & Politics seeks to identify some of the enduring features of the relationship between humor and political life. Co-organized by graduate students from the Political Science Department, the group counts among its members graduate and undergraduate students from a variety of fields, as well several professors. In addition to bi-monthly meetings, the group also supports other programming around campus related to humor and politics, such as the recent Political Cartoon and Satire Festival.
  • Informed Choices for Economic Development
    Contact: Sarah Nolan / sarah.nolan@duke.edu
    This working group will generate discussion around contemporary development research related directly to context-specific inequality; identify and evaluate the distributional impacts of development policy by making meaningful assessments of improvements to human well-being at the different socio-economic levels impacted by a policy change; and foster an environment for new research among students with a primary or peripheral research interest in inequality among specific populations of interest.
  • Money, Finance & Culture
    Contact: Joseph Ren / joseph.ren@duke.edu
    The financial crisis that began in 2007 has generated abundant scholarship on the nature and functions of money in a globalized capitalist system. The Money, Finance, and Culture Working Group will analyze and critique recent publications in the fields of anthropology, political theory, sociology, philosophy, political economy, and cultural studies to investigate money as a phenomenon embedded in social and cultural life. The group aims to facilitate an interdisciplinary conversation about the problems of money specific to the historical economic changes—often shorthanded as “financialization”—which have occurred worldwide since the early 1970s.
  • **Neurosurgery in East Africa
    Contact: Tony Fuller / anthony.fuller@duke.edu

    Duke Global Neurosurgery and Neurology (DGNN) was recently established within the Duke Department of Neurosurgery and DGHI.This working group was developed so that students would be able to work together to bring new and innovative ideas to DGNN and help in its mission of improving access to neurosurgical care in East Africa. With this in mind, this working group will seek to explore how the current programs can be improved, which areas have yet to be explored, and develop completely new ideas.
    Website: http://www.dukeglobalneurosurgery.com

  • Ocean Policy
    Contacts: Ali Boden / alexandra.boden@duke.edu // Honglin Du - honglin.du@duke.edu
    The Ocean Policy Working Group is an interdisciplinary graduate and professional student working group at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. The OPWG works to facilitate cross-disciplinary discussions and collaborations that explore the current issues pertaining to political, economic, scientific, and cultural dimensions of human interactions with the ocean. We strive to relate to an audience beyond those that directly study the coast. Some of the topics OPWG explores include ocean governance, coastal communities, human health & marine food supply, cultural connections to the coast, marine resources management, and environmental change.
    Websites: https://sites.duke.edu/opwg/https://sites.duke.edu/opwg/publication/
  • Slavery, War & Gender
    Contacts: Alisha Hines / alisha.hines@duke.edu // Kristina Williams / kristina.a.williams@duke.edu // Jacqueline Allain / jacqueline.allain@duke.edu
    The Working Group in Slavery, War, and Gender seeks to provide graduate students who work in the field of women and gender in slavery and war (whether in the U.S. or other countries) with opportunities to learn from and share their writing and ideas with senior scholars in the field and each other. By inviting scholars from other institutions to take part in graduate student workshops at Duke, we create spaces for brainstorming, discussion and collaboration, with an emphasis on thinking through the process of scholarly writing and publishing.  We will also sponsor gatherings that will focus on selected readings.  We see this as an interdisciplinary enterprise that will attract graduate students from departments across campus.

    * Co-sponsored by Duke India Initiative and the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies
    **Co-sponsored by Africa Initiative and the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies

2018 - 2019 Graduate Working Groups on Global Issues