2020-2021 Graduate Working Groups on Global Issues

  • Black Sound & the Archive
    Black Sound and the Archive, inspired by Yale University's working group, is an intellectual hub for scholars working on the intersections of Sound Studies, African Diaspora Studies and archival theory. In the past few years, there has been an explosion of scholarship on sound studies as it relates to anthropology, literature, art/art history, history, music, and digital humanities. Yet these conversations tend to be siloes. Our work acknowledges the necessity of connecting scholars across multiple disciplines in order to challenge critical silences in the field of sound studies as it relates to Blackness and the archive. This working group will bring together graduate students, faculty and postdocs throughout the semester for readings, presentation and discussions of their work.
    Contact: Ayanna Legros  |  ayanna.legros@duke.edu; Brittany Green | brittany.green@duke.edu 
  • Corruption in Developing Countries
    Corruption is a prevalent and ubiquitous phenomenon in developing countries, permeating from the top to the bottom of society. Although political scientists, economists and policymakers all study corruption, there have been surprisingly little fruitful interdisciplinary conversations on the topic. Our working group aims to bring together people from different cultures and academic departments to work together on research on corruption from an interdisciplinary perspective. Fostering an ongoing conversation will aid enormously in deepening our understanding of corruption and in helping us come up with ways to fight it, wherever necessary.
    Contact: Mateo Villamizar Chaparro  |  santiagomateo.villamizar.chaparro@duke.edu; Ngoc Phan | ngoc.phan@duke.edu; Soojung Yoon | soojung.yoon@duke.edu
  • Decolonizing Global Health in LMICs*
    The purpose of this working group is to provide a space where future global health leaders can engage in dialogue and participate in seminars aimed at: (1) recognizing the structures that shape prominent issues in global health; (2) re-articulating "cultural" competency in structural terms; (3) observing and imagining structural interventions; and (4) developing structural humility. We hope participants of the working group will curate the skills needed for a critical and structurally competent non-oppressive engagement with global health work. This working group is appropriate for graduate students from all disciplines who have an interest in topics germane to global health. We hope to build a diverse and interdisciplinary group of people who are passionate about global health but may find themselves at odds with the uncritical and depoliticized nature of the field and to address effectively the complex issues of our field that cut across countries and socioeconomic divides. Global health leaders need to develop cultural pertinence and structural competency that are grounded in an historically and politically-situated understanding of global health. 
    *[LMICs: Low- and Middle-Income Countries]
    Contact: Cordelia S. Kenney | cordelia.kenney@duke.edu; Ali Murad Buyum | ali.buyum@duke.edu
  • Duke Environmental Journal
    The Duke Environment Journal (DEJ) working group aims to create a graduate student-run environmental journalism publication that covers research and policy for lay. This publication will fill a professional development gap for environmentally-focused master's a PhD students by providing training and opportunities to publish on emerging research and other environmental topics. We seek to build a more engaged community of environmental professionals and scholars from across departments at Duke who are able to produce clear, compelling writing that expands the impact of their graduate work into the broader community. 
    Contact: Anna Nordseth | anna.nordseth@duke.edu
  • Global Perspectives on Artisanal & Small-Scale Gold Mining
    We are a diverse group of Duke graduate students studying various aspects of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), which is a major contributor to global mercury pollution. Airborne mercury is able to travel long distances and is eventually deposited on the Earth's surface through wet and dry deposition, where it contaminates soil, water and crops. Once in waterways, it bio-accumulates in fish, leading to chronic long-term exposure that can cause serious health effects. ASGM is the number one source globally of atmospheric mercury and is conducted worldwide across 70 countries. Members of this group work in different regions of the world, and our monthly meetings are a platform to connect the dots between our individual areas of research to build cross-continental research synergies.
    Contact: Reshma Nargund  |  rn88@duke.edu
  • Graduates Engineering & Researching Microbiomes (GERM)
    Our working group brings together students from a wide array of academic backgrounds to examine complex microbial communities ("microbiomes"). This collective is comprised mainly of students from engineering, biology and statistics, though all are welcome. Through monthly meetings, this group strives to improve cross-departmental collaboration for microbiome research, while also providing a forum for Duke researchers to trouble-shoot obstacles, internally peer-review ongoing projects, and learn new methods of analyzing microbiomes. Additionally, speakers from industry are invited to discuss how they are using and exploring microbiomes outside of academia.
    Contact: Alex McCumber  |  awm27@duke.ed
  • Informed Choices for Equitable Development
    nformed Choices for Equitable Development is a working group focused on discussion, debate and gaining a deeper understanding of issues in international development. We bring together PhD students from multiple disciplines who work in this field and give them a platform through which to share their work and learn new skills. We focus on some of the most pressing issues of our world today: maternal and child health, migration, racial inequality, foreign aid policy, and the environment.
    Contact: Nikita Kohli | nikita.kohli@duke.edu
  • Mammal Behavior and Conservation Group 
    The Mammal Behavior and Conservation Group is a diverse group of Duke and international students, researchers, and faculty focused on applied research for the conservation of rapidly disappearing charismatic species. We aim to better understand mammalian social networks and the ecological roles these species play in their environment. We meet biweekly to discuss relevant scientific literature, analyze social group dynamics, and produce academic journal articles to disseminate our findings. This year we (1) will continue an ongoing analysis of the role of social group structure in species resilience to anthropogenic disturbance and (2) start a study evaluating the unique role of primates in tropical forests.
    Contact: Amelia Meier | amelia.meier@duke.edu; Anna Nordseth | anna.nordseth@duke.edu
  • Moving Aesthetics of Empire
    As concepts, "empire" and "colony" evoke visions of order, discipline, domination, and hierarchy. One of the crucial ways that societies institute and critique these formations is through visual language: the livery of colonial dress, imposing administrative architecture, and the sweeping visions of imperial landscape painting. Further, imperialists and colonial subjects alike narrate the experience of empire using a variety of media from limericks to ethnographies. Yet it was film that married visual language to narrative symbolism, bringing the political and affective qualities of empire home to a global community. This group investigates global constructions of empire and colonialism in film, comparing and analyzing how artists across genres and regions enforce, narrate and critique imperial structures and their memory.
    Contact: Devin Creed | devin.creed@duke.edu 
  • Ocean Policy
    The Ocean Policy Working Group aims to facilitate cross-disciplinary discussions and collaborations that explore the political, economic, scientific, and cultural dimensions of human interactions with the ocean. Our activities examine current issues involving the global oceans and the impact of these issues on marine policy and ocean governance. We strive to relate to an audience beyond those that directly study the coast. The OPWG seeks to accomplish its goals by hosting seminars, an annual Spring symposium, producing an online publication, film screenings, and other opportunities for its members to gather and discuss relevant issues pertaining to the oceans.
    Contact: Scott Bechler | scott.bechler@duke.edu
  • Slavery, War & Gender
    The Working Group on Slavery, War & Gender was founded to support the critical exploration of black women's history in the Atlantic World during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As a graduate student-led group, members read a wide variety of texts in the fields of History, African/African American Studies and Gender/Sexuality/Feminist Studies and discuss different methodological approaches to studying black women in various historical, political, social, and economic contexts. Our working group also invites emerging and senior scholars from across the US in the humanities and social sciences to present their scholarship. Furthermore, members are allowed to workshop essays, articles and dissertation chapters among peers. Membership is open to all graduate students enrolled in the Duke University's Graduate School, as well as graduate programs at other Triangle area universities.
    Contact: Tayzhaun Glover | tayzhaun.glover@duke.edu