The social science magazine of Duke University Sponsored by the Social Science Research Institute Spring 2009, volume 3, issue 1
gist f ro m t h e M i l l
growing a green economy study details potential for U.S. â€œGreen-Collarâ€? Job growth
Educating Kenyan Girls making better use of computers mapping the ties that bind
Duke University Photography
aims to be a catalyst for social science research at Duke University. This magazine highlights our resources and initiatives, as well as the activities and accomplishments of our affiliated research centers and other social and behavioral departments at Duke. As usual, this issue illustrates the incredible breadth of social and behavioral science research at Duke—“green” jobs, all-girls schools in Kenya, and the “ties that bind” in small groups. SSRI supports this type of research in two important ways. First, we provide services and resources through four core groups: • Grants and SSRI Administration • Data Core and IT Support • Education • DIISP Lab These cores serve our affiliates—social science research centers, groups of researchers, even individual social scientists. Being able to access centralized services and resources frees investigators to focus more of their resources and energy on their research endeavors. Second, SSRI incubates important new research projects through its Faculty Fellows Program, by providing support to emerging research teams, and through collaborations with other research institutes and centers. Recently, SSRI’s Administration was sub-divided into four parts: Administration, Grants Management, Human Resources, and Communications. SSRI Administration remains in the capable hands of Amy Barbee, who handles intra-University issues related to budgets and space. Anne Pippen leads the Grants Management resource, which focuses on both pre- and post-award services. This office has greatly expanded in
the past six months and now includes seven staff members. In the first four months of FY09, our staff submitted 36 grants with direct costs of $20.2 million—a 33-percent increase on an annualized basis. We welcome Jeanne Ryan, who joined us in July 2008 to supervise human resources. Her expert assistance has been crucial as we enlarge and diversify the SSRI team and help affiliates staff research positions. I am pleased to announce that Professors Rachel Kranton (Economics) and Scott Huettel (Psychology and Neuroscience) will lead and are now assembling the 2009-10 Faculty Fellows. The fellows will work on a year-long project entitled, Decisions and Behavior: from Society to the Brain (and back). Its goal is to integrate social science traditions surrounding individual decision making with two novel content domains: sociocultural traditions and neuroscience.
It aims to develop both a common theoretical framework and an interdisciplinary empirical program to inform and test this framework. This project is expected to produce a long-term collaboration between SSRI and a second university institute, the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS). Alexandra Cooper helps to organize the group’s activities and provides the Fellows needed links to SSRI resources. SSRI can also assist in building research teams by appointing research staff and making faculty appointments. These appointments will be made in close collaboration with schools, departments or affiliate centers. We have made our first such appointment—Jennifer Lansford as an associate research professor. Lansford is a psychologist; she works closely with Ken Dodge and others in the Center for Child and Family Policy (CCFP). Her impressive research portfolio includes work on cultural differences in how parents discipline and rear their children. For instance, corporal punishment has negative consequences in some societies but not others. More broadly, her work shows how peers and family affects youth development conditional on the social and cultural context. Read more about Lansford on page 19. Finally, SSRI is currently providing a supportive role in the re-organization of DuPRI, the Duke University Population Research Institute. DuPRI was founded by NAS member James Vaupel; the current reorganization is aimed at integrating impressive faculty strength in the population sciences. Read on, and look forward to our next issue, which will provide updates on more SSRI happenings and the latest on social and behavioral science at Duke. Sincerely,
S. Philip Morgan Director
s p r i n g 2 0 0 9 , vo lu m e 3 , i ss u e 1
f ro m t h e M i l l
w w w. s s r i . d u ke . e d u / g i s t
features 6 Growing a Green Economy 10 Increasing the Social Capital of Girls in Kenya While Educating Students at Duke
12 Making Better Use of Computers 14 Mapping the Ties That Bind
Editor: Courtney P. Orning Assistant Editor: Claire Cusick Designer: Regina Barnhill-Bordo www.bdesign-studio.com
GIST Advisory Board: Karl Leif Bates Paul Dudenhefer Andrea Fereshteh Hallie Knuffman Richard Lucic Courtney P. Orning Erika Patall Ara Wilson The Social Science Research Institute at Duke University is a part of
in every issue 2 In Brief 16 Profile: Faculty 17 Profile: Student 18 Ask the Social Scientist 19 Questions 20 Technology 21 The Strip Back Cover Final Note
This publication is printed with vegetable-based inks on chlorine free paper containing 10% post-consumer fiber. Please recycle this magazine.
w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u 1
Effective Prevention of Substance Use Begins with Research by Jana A. Ale xande r
The “Just Say No” ads ran their course. Ditto for metaphoric images of “your brain on drugs.” More recently, substance use prevention campaigns pushed “parents” and “truth” as anti-drugs and asked teens “What is your anti-drug?” As memorable—and parodied—as these efforts are, none has delivered measurable results. Effective anti-drug campaigns begin with rigorous research into what tempts young people to begin using substances, which kids are most vulnerable, and why they keep using drugs. That’s the premise of the Duke Transdisciplinary Prevention Research Center (TPRC). Since 2003, the Duke TPRC, housed in the Center for Child and Family Policy (CCFP), an SSRI affiliate, has been studying the regulatory processes and peer influences that result in kids beginning to use substances. Co-principal investigators Philip Costanzo and Kenneth Dodge lead the effort. With renewed funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for the next five years, the TPRC now will focus on translating research findings into evidencebased prevention programs. According to Costanzo, Professor of Psychology and CCFP Associate Director, “The results from our early research have demonstrated what parents and educators have long believed—that the minds and brains of preteens and teens really do seem to function differently than those of adults, particularly when it comes to risky behaviors and decision making. Furthermore, between sixth and eighth grades, early adolescents become increasingly influenced by their peers, so deviant peer leaders have considerable impact on the choices they make and, especially, the risky behaviors they initiate. Ultimately, drug use and related deviant behaviors become ways that teens establish identities distinct from adults—identities that are further fostered by group and clique solidarity.” Scientific research has produced key findings that support these and other common perceptions, said Costanzo. For example, one study found that the biological vulnerability of the adolescent brain is the key risk factor for later substance use problems. Another study found that, between the ages of 12 and 14, deviant peers are often at the center of a school’s social scene, where they have remarkable influence. Other research found that the middle school model itself, is problematic. Costanzo said, “TPRC researchers found that sixth-graders who attend middle schools, where they are grouped with seventh- and eighth-graders, are twice as likely to be suspended for substance use than are sixth-graders who attend elementary schools. Even more revealing is the fact that the negative social behaviors, including substance use, persist throughout high school.”
2 gist from the mill • spri ng 2009
The TPRC is uniquely situated to examine the origins and catalysts for substance abuse, said Dodge, who is the William McDougall Professor of Public Policy Studies, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and CCFP Director. Together, Dodge and Costanzo have galvanized a team of more than 20 scientists and researchers from multiple disciplines to investigate adolescent substance use from just about every possible angle. “The TPRC gives us the infrastructure—including administrative support and a data core with analytical assistance—for faculty members to work with colleagues from different disciplines on the same questions. Together, these scholars make discoveries that would be almost impossible if they were working independently.” TPRC researchers include economists, epidemiologists, geneticists, health researchers, neuropharmacologists, neuroscientists, policy scholars, psychologists and sociologists. Their individual approaches begin with the very language they use when researching substance abuse, said Dodge. “Regulation, especially self-regulation, is a key focus of our research,” Dodge said. “The TPRC helps us reach a more complete answer because scholars from various disciplines study regulatory processes differently. For example, a neuroscientist might look at
the executive control function of the brain’s frontal cortex, whereas a social psychologist might start with how parents respond to children’s emotional outbursts, and an economist might begin with the effects of taxes and laws on alcohol and drug consumption. By focusing all of these minds on the same questions, we have made great strides in understanding regulatory processes.” Between 2003 and 2008, TPRC researchers were involved in 37 funded collaborative grants that focused on basic science in adolescence and regulatory processes. With the continued NIDA funding, these investigators, and others, will translate scientific knowledge through randomized prevention trials and more thorough looks into how genes affect the likelihood of teen substance abuse, such as environmental exposures, Dodge said. The TPRC aims to transform the field through multidisciplinary inquiry, thus becoming the nation’s leader in prevention science in adolescent substance use, he said. “The benefit of finding prevention programs that work is huge,” according to Dodge. “Back in 2005, researchers put a price tag on the lifetime cost for each adolescent who develops a persistent drug abuse problem: $970,000. Behind that price tag, however, are millions of real people who suffer ongoing health, economic, and
social problems due to substance abuse, and countless loved ones who also suffer.” The ideal outcome of the TPRC, Dodge and Costanzo agreed, will be prevention programs that are not only memorable, but also effective. “The good news is that research shows that the later adolescents or young adults initiate substance use, the less likely they are to eventually use or abuse substances on a consistent basis,” Costanzo noted. “So, if we can just get a foot in the door at the opportune time, we can make a world of difference. In order to firmly plant that foot, however, and prevent the lasting early onset of substance abuse, we must understand the developmental dynamics that drive such abuse and translate that knowledge into userfriendly approaches. These are the prime goals of the TPRC.” The Duke TPRC began in 2003 and is housed within the Center for Child and Family Policy. It is closely linked to Duke’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and the Social Science Research Institute and will benefit greatly from anticipated collaborations with other Duke institutes, including the Institute for Brain Sciences, the Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, and the Global Health Institute.
College Students Say Illicit Use of ADHD Drugs Helps Their Ability to Study by Steve Hartsoe
Undergraduates who use ADHD medication without a prescription say it’s worth the risk for one key benefit: enhancing their ability to study. In a new study led by researchers from Duke University’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, more than 5 percent of students surveyed reported using ADHD medication without a prescription during the past six months. The Web-based survey of 3,407 students at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and Duke was taken in spring 2007. Ninety percent of respondents who reported using the medication without a prescription during the previous six months said enhancing the ability to study was the reason they most often took prescription stimulant drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta for nonmedical purposes. And nearly 90 percent of these students felt it was effective in helping them study.
Using ADHD medication without a prescription was more common among students who reported more frequent use of alcohol and other substances during the past six months. However, it was also more likely to occur among students who felt that concentration and attention was a problem for them. The research was led by David Rabiner, associate research professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke. Other researchers on the project were from Duke, UNC-Greensboro and the University of Michigan. “A limitation of this study is that we only learned how students believe using ADHD medication affects them,” said Rick Hoyle, a psychology professor at Duke. “How students are actually affected—whether it truly helps them do better academically or whether it contributes to the use of other substances—cannot be determined from our results.”
w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u
Setting Boundaries On-line by Angela Spivey
Whether a statement is true or not, you could post it on
the first year of the project, in which researchers will decide on the scope of questions to be explored. “It’s a combination of trying to gossip sites without providing so much as an email address. Some get a handle on what is wrong out there, and to determine what of these sites ask visitors to “spill the juice about all the crazy stuff kinds of questions do we as researchers need to ask about on-line going on at your campus,” and the mean spirit of much of the gossip discourse,” Rogerson said. “Free speech is an issue; people need to has caused outrage among Duke students and faculty. And even be able to say what they need to websites with nobler goals say without fear of reprisal. But have few ways to prevent should civility be legislated? How users from creating misleaddo we hold people accountable ing identities and posting on-line?” whatever they want. The researchers hope that Such issues spurred Sarah the project will help lead the Deutsch, Professor of History discussion about what questions and Dean of Social Sciences, need to be answered to make to gather researchers from the Internet a more civil place across Duke’s campus and without hampering free speech. beyond to explore questions “We really want to be a clearabout preventing on-line inghouse for this type of work,” harassment while preserving Rogerson said.“I think what free speech. we can learn from research “The freedom of the Internet in this area can be helpful to has facilitated democracy and universities, to policymakers, engagement in a way that beto people who are interested in fore seemed inconceivable,” language development.” Deutsch said. For example, in Tim Lenoir, Kimberly Jenkins Russia, the Internet enables Chair for New Technologies and groups to have political Society, will manage the second discussions that would be year of the project, in which impossible in the state“ [S]hould civility be legislated? How do the group plans to fund recontrolled media. But that we hold people accountable on-line?” search. Richard Lucic, Associate freedom comes with a price. Department Chair and Associate —Ken Roge rson “On the other hand it enables Professor of the Practice of this completely oppressive Computer Science, will lead the conclusion and analysis that will harassment that could chase people out of the public sphere and happen during the project’s third year. public debate,” said Deutsch, who studies history and issues of Lucic stated, “I’m not sure we could change human behavior just gender, race, and class in the United States. “Part of the issue is, by developing better computer science tools. That’s why we want how do we create a safe space for public debate? We want as many computer scientists, social scientists and psychologists and theolopeople taking part as possible.” gians all talking together to figure out the scope of the problem. Can To examine these issues, Duke faculty from various disciplines are anything be done, or is it all futile activity because people will find a gathering to launch ”Online Discourse: Free Speech, Civility, and way around it?” Accountability,” an interdisciplinary project. Ken Rogerson, Lecturer Researchers are welcomed to join the project. in Public Policy Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies, leads
To learn more, contact Ken Rogerson at email@example.com.
4 gist from the mill • spri ng 2009
Virtual Swords to Ploughshares Duke-developed simulation game looks to train a new generation of peacemakers by Cara Bonnett
In the basement of Perkins Library, representatives from 16
duke university photography
international agencies struggle to coordinate a massive humanitarian relief effort in the aftermath of a hurricane that has devastated Central America. Wearing headsets and connected via laptops, these 16 students in Natalia Mirovitskaya’s public policy class are role-playing a scenario using Virtual Peace, a computer simulation game developed by Duke researchers, in collaboration with Virtual Heroes, a Research Triangle Park-based software development company known for its work on the military training simulation America’s Army. The U.S. military has used similar techniques to train combat troops, fighter pilots and Special Forces in unstable regions. In Virtual Peace, students can practice real-life diplomatic skills and learn first-hand the necessary tools for sensitive and timely crisis response. “We’re trying to train people how to collaborate in groups— particularly in internationally sensitive situations,” said Lenoir, the Kimberly J. Jenkins Chair for New Technologies and Society. “The goal is to create an environment where people can practice their negotiation skills—and it’s a whole lot better use of the gaming engine than shooting ’em up.” The project—winner of the HASTAC/MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Competition—brings together an interdisciplinary team of experts in digital learning technologies and international conflict resolution. Educators from the Duke-UNC Rotary Center for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution designed the hurricane scenario. It is modeled on real-life events following Hurricane Mitch, which blew through Honduras and Nicaragua in 1998, leaving 14,600 dead and more than $5 billion in damages. Duke computer science students constructed avatars based on photos of real people in leadership roles in government and non-government agencies involved in similar humanitarian aid efforts. They first convene around a virtual conference table but later break into smaller groups. Their task: to negotiate the specific commitments of cash, in-kind and personnel donations that will address immediate needs such as medical assistance, security, water, shelter and food. Students also respond to larger issues such as logistical coordination and political rehabilitation. During the two-hour simulation, instructors can “fly” around to observe the conversations and send “curveball” messages to particular players to simulate unexpected crises. Instructors also can flag certain points in the game to revisit during after-action reviews. The simulation enables real-time international interaction since
users can join the game from different physical locations. Users can also customize the simulation for a variety of practical applications, from analyzing what went wrong in the response to Hurricane Katrina to convening a virtual policy think-tank of expert stakeholders to discussing international environmental issues, Lenoir said. “In my experience, in an emergency situation, you don’t always know who is doing what, and you may not be able to reach all stakeholders at one time,” said Azami, a native of Afghanistan who worked for the Canadian International Development Agency and Oxfam before becoming a Rotary World Peace Fellow. “With this tool, it would be a lot easier to effectively coordinate and prioritize stakeholders’ initiatives.”
w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u 5
Growi a Green Economy
Study Details Potential for U.S. “Green-Collar” Job Growth by Andrea Fe reshteh
Last Summer, residents and environmental activists organized a 51-hour vigil at the North Carolina legislature in Raleigh to draw attention to the impact of large-scale hog farming. North Carolina is the second-largest hog-producing state in the nation, with more than 2,000 farms. Most of these are located in the eastern part of the state.
6 gist from the mill • spri ng 2009
New research by Duke’s Center for Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (CGGC), an affiliate of SSRI, shows that in addition to helping the environment, progressive technologies like Super Soil Systems may also be a source of so-called “green-collar” jobs for U.S.-based manufacturing. During the presidential campaign, candidates from both sides of the aisle spoke about the link between jobs in environmental industries and future economic growth. Candidates cited the potential for “green-collar” jobs to revitalize traditional
Group shot of the CGGC team outside the Erwin Mill Building. l to r: Andrew Kindman, Mike Hensen, Karolina Harraldsdottir, Karina Fernandez-Stark, Lixia Mei, Jess Robinson, Marcy Lowe, Joy Stutts, Gary Gereffi, Naiquan Sang
Group photo: Danielle Anthony
Protestors were concerned about open waste lagoons used by hog farms. The lagoon pits sometimes rupture after heavy rains and their runoff can contaminate surface and groundwater. The pits have also been found to generate significant greenhouse gas emissions, and create an odor that impacts air quality. A possible solution to the environmental problems created by these open waste lagoons is a technology known as Super Soil Systems, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 97 percent and treats the entire waste stream from the hog farms.
manufacturing industries, as skilled workers and facilities could reap new opportunities with the production of wind turbines or solar panels. Skeptics, however, argued that the term “green-collar” was merely an election buzzword used in campaign rhetoric. Duke researchers at CGGC believe otherwise. Highlighting the direct linkages between low-carbon technologies and U.S. jobs, their report, “Manufacturing Climate Solutions” provides a detailed look at the manufacturing jobs that already exist and would be created when the U.S. takes action to limit global-warming pollution.
ng w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u 7
“Until now, there was no tangible evidence of what the jobs are, how they are created and what it means for U.S. workers. We are providing that here,” said Gary Gereffi, professor of sociology and lead author of the report. “We don’t guess where the jobs are; we name them.” Super Soil Systems is one of five carbonreducing technologies examined in the report with potential for future green job creation. While providing detailed breakdowns of industry value chains and maps highlighting the location of companies positioned to support green jobs, Gereffi and his colleagues also study LED lighting, high-performance windows, auxiliary power units for long-haul trucks, and concentrating solar power. According to the data, states that stand to benefit most from jobs in these sectors include Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. Several of these states are oldtime manufacturing centers and/or are suffering high unemployment rates right now. Value chain analysis is at the core of Gereffi’s research interests. At CGGC, he and a team of full-time professional researchers, adjunct faculty, graduate and undergraduate students study the full range of activities that firms and workers do to bring a product from its conception to its end use and beyond. “I think about this research as a kind of economic sociology,” he said. “We try to identify how markets work.” CGGC works to understand how globalization is changing the sources of value chains for different industries. Other projects at CGGC examine the state of engineering education competitiveness in the United States, global health issues, the growth of nanotechnology in Asia and how globalization affects knowledge-based industries in North Carolina. “One of our biggest advantages as a center is that we have come up with ways of talking about globalization and the impact of global-
8 gist from the mill • spri ng 2009
“ One of our biggest advantages as a center is that we have come up with ways of talking about globalization and the impact of globalization in terms of how it affects things that people care about—like jobs”
—Gary Ge reffi
ization in terms of how it affects things that people care about—like jobs,” he said. Gereffi’s reputation for conducting supply chain analysis caught the attention of Jackie Roberts, director of sustainable technologies at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). A national nonprofit dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability, EDF approached CGGC to help map the supply chains of carbon-reducing technologies with potential for future green job creation. “As an advocate for caps on greenhouse gases, I want to be able to make people understand the economic opportunities associated with moving to a low carbon economy,” Roberts said. “We also want people to understand that some climate solutions have a strong manufacturing base.” “To do that, you have to understand what a company’s value chain looks like and what their points of leverage are,” she said. “We found a great group at Duke who understands how to look at this globally. They understand how to combine the available information with direct industry dialogue and they really are very good at doing that.” Although research on environmental industries was a new area for Gereffi, he was able to apply the value chain framework used in other CGGC research initiatives to this study. “If you look at studies of value chains you begin to see how products get made in a global factory,” he said, noting much of the research reveals information that is not self-evident and surprises even seasoned industry experts.
“What we show here, by using this kind of a supply chain approach, is that lots of the products and skills that are part of the American manufacturing heartland are essential components of clean technologies,” he said. “There is clearly a positive link between the two, but you need to find it.” To do that, Gereffi and CGGC research associates Marcy Lowe and Kristen Dubay worked directly with graduate and undergraduate students to map the supply chains of the five industries. “We dive in and find out how the industry is structured, who the major players are, the structures,” said Lowe of the research. “This study seemed broad, but it is much narrower in terms of taking one product within an industry and tracing how it comes about in terms of materials and components.” Student researchers like Karolina Haraldsdottir ’10, made individual contacts with companies to uncover details about their value chains. A member of the varsity women’s track and field team, Haraldsdottir got involved with the project after learning about CGGC research opportunities during a class with Gereffi. “To be able to understand any industry or business, it is necessary to be able to understand the global value chain,” said Haraldsdottir, an international comparative studies major. “When you’re talking about markets and management and dealing with organizations, you have to understand where they sit, who they have to cater towards, what kinds of things are tying them down. To be able to move up in the world,
CGGC Research team discusses one of their website projects. l to r: Marcy Lowe, Mike Hensen, Karina Fernandez-Stark, Joy Stutts
you need to move up in the value chain.” In her research of Super Soil Systems, Haraldsdottir contacted company representatives to gather information about what components they use, what raw materials are in those components, which countries are the highest producers of those materials, and what are the main companies producing those materials. She helped uncover information showing that the system’s tanks and other holding vessels use large amounts of steel and approximately 2,000 feet of piping, which can be made of steel, PVC or other plastic. According to the report, the U.S. is one of the leading producers of all the major materials used in the system. Widespread adoption of Super Soil Systems technology would involve manufacturing jobs to produce the large tanks and pipes, construction jobs involved in building the facility, and labor required for ongoing maintenance and part replacement. “Understanding supply and demand as it works today in terms of which companies and which countries play key roles in these
industries is the reason we have to do this really detailed industry mapping,” Gereffi said. Research associate Kristen Dubay, who has a background in health policy research, says her perception of “green-collar” workers changed after working on the report. “Every regular Joe can potentially be a “green-collar” worker. You don’t have to be someone who cares about recycling or driving a Prius, just someone who cares about a job and be in an industry where there is value to having more efficient products,” she said. Dubay also emphasizes that this research has a direct impact on policymaking. “Often that’s a disconnect in academics. Researchers do a lot of research and they’re done. They don’t have the support or opportunity to make a link to policy. Our client is making that link for us. I think that’s really exciting,” she said. Jackie Roberts at EDF says lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have expressed interest in the results of the CGGC study. “I think a lot of people are very interested in green jobs. What this report is about is
that there are jobs and economic opportunities out there and we don’t even need to talk about them as green jobs—these are jobs,” Roberts said. She also notes that labor unions are especially interested in the potential opportunities available in environmental industries. Several, including the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, co-sponsored CGGC’s report. “While some seek to pit the environment against economic growth, we see economic opportunity in the solutions to the climate crisis,” added Bob Baugh, executive director of the Council. “But, to succeed it means making certain that, from production to construction, these green investments are made in the U.S. That is the best way to assure that their positive ripple effects are felt throughout the entire economy.” Gereffi believes that in addition to policymakers and labor unions, the research in the report is of interest to the companies themselves. Because the data is original and so detailed, he says it often reveals new information to company leaders that helps them develop strategies to deal with future challenges and opportunities. Gereffi and the researchers at CGGC are continuing work with EDF on the future of “green-collar” jobs, as well as new projects focusing on products made in China. “I always want our research to be innovative and path breaking,” he said. “We try to combine research plus teaching plus publication plus this idea of knowledge in the service of society in a way that brings students and faculty into the collective research enterprise.”
A copy of the study is available at www.cggc.duke.edu/environment/climatesolutions/. w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u 9
Increasing the Social Capital of Girls in While Educating Students at Duke
by Mary-Russell Robe rson
ow does a biology professor begin a girls’ school in Kenya? Ask Sherryl Broverman. In the early 1990s, Broverman was publishing papers with titles like “Fast ion-exchange membrane purification of a microsomal protein.” Today she and her students are helping to start a girls’ boarding school in Kenya. “I’m totally flabbergasted,” she said. “This is not a path that I anticipated.” But, she added, “It’s a really good example of how in academia you can bring together civic engagement, student development and research, and it all ties in with the university’s mission to work internationally.” Broverman is an associate professor of the practice in the department of biology and director of the global health certificate program in the Duke Global Health Institute. She is also vice chair of the faculty advisory board of DukeEngage. Broverman’s unexpected journey began when she got interested in using significant unsolved social issues to teach scientific concepts to non-scientists. She developed a course at Duke in which students investigated issues related to HIV and AIDS. The course became nationally recognized, and as result she was invited in 2002 to a science education conference to meet African scholars who wanted to teach about HIV/AIDS. There she hit it off with professors from Egerton University in Kenya. In 2005, she received a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an AIDS course with the Egerton professors that would be taught concurrently at both universities. As part of the grant, the team set up an Internet café at Egerton so that the Kenyan students could collaborate with Duke students on homework. In addition,
10 gist from the mill • spri ng 2009
Duke students wrote a 75-page illustrated manual about HIV, with guidance and editing from the Egerton students to make sure the book was grounded in Kenyan culture and context. Today, that manual has been used by more than 3,000 students in Kenya. During the project, one of the Egerton professors, Rose Odhiambo, invited Broverman to visit her home village in an area along Lake Victoria called Muhuru Bay. “She was the first girl in that area to go to university,” Broverman said. “And she was the only one in that area—boy or girl—to get a Ph.D. So she is a celebrity there.” The headmaster at the co-ed secondary boarding school in Muhuru Bay asked Odhiambo and Broverman for help. He wanted to know why none of the girls at his
school had ever passed the high-school exit exam in the 20-year history of the school, despite the fact that many of them did complete the coursework. After interviewing scores of students, parents, teachers, and administrators, Broverman says, several themes emerged. Although parents pay for their children to attend the school, they often do not give their daughters soap, paper, pencils, kerosene, and other such supplies. Parents also frequently voice their low expectations, commenting about what a waste of money it is to send girls to school. “The girls themselves would say ‘Girls are weak, girls just play, girls can’t focus,’” Broverman said. Even worse, girls are often pressured or even expected to have sex with teachers,
Greeti ngs from C amp WISE R Tyla Fowler, an international comparative studies major, went to Muhuru Bay in the summer of 2007. She helped lead Camp WISER, which she and her classmates had designed during the school year at Duke. The students also distributed thousands of sanitary pads to girls so they wouldn’t have to miss class while menstruating. Camp WISER teaches leadership and teamwork skills, gender awareness, and adolescent health over a two-week period. “There was one girl I remember; her name was Beatrice,” Fowler said. “At the beginning of Camp WISER, she wouldn’t speak in class, and if we called on her, her responses were barely audible. By the end of two weeks, she got up onstage and spoke in front of a group of peers. Seeing that particular girl going from being nearly mute to speaking in front of 32 peers and 10 Americans was really powerful.” The students in Camp WISER were high school sophomores, but they ranged in age from 15 to 25 years old. “We had a night where the students got to stand up and tell personal stories,” Fowler said. “A majority of them told stories that were very much about struggle and hardship that none of us had ever experienced.” Some of the girls were already mothers. Many students had lost one or more parents to AIDS and were raising younger siblings. “One of the things that will stay with me is knowing that these people are just like I am—very intelligent, very capable—they just don’t have resources,” she said. Of Broverman, who made this life-changing experience possible, Fowler said, “She’s a very genuine, authentic person and she’s very humorous, especially in situations where it’s difficult to maintain a sense of humor. She brings an element of joy to work that is not always so joyous.”
since 2004 with the exception of 2008, when the trip was canceled due to political violence. Duke graduate Andy Cunningham has been in Muhuru Bay serving as the WISER executive director since May 2008. There is also a local board of directors, which Broverman calls “phenomenally active and effective.” Another 15 or so Duke students will go this summer as part of DukeEngage. They will again lead Camp WISER, make a survey of local HIV education efforts, and map out daily patterns of travel and behavior to identify places and behaviors that are associated with the risk of acquiring HIV. It’s a critical question, Broverman says, because in the villages of Muhuru Bay, 30 to 40 percent of the population is infected with HIV. So far, the entire community is taking great interest in the school and other WISER projects. “Five thousand people came to the school groundbreaking,” Broverman said. “They cleared three acres of termite mounds and brush with machetes and hoes and built a soccer field.” The field will be used for the first female soccer league in the area. Now Broverman is working to identify funding sources to run the school for the first two years, which will cost approximately $250,000. “We have enough money to build the school,” Broverman said, “and in the third year, funding from the Robertson Foundation kicks in.” Although she never planned to start a girls’ school in Kenya, Broverman said, “There comes a point where it’s a combination of getting really angry and realizing you have the potential to do something about it, especially being situated at a university where I have all these passionate students.”
Camp WISER archives
which many do in exchange for money, school supplies or medicine. Broverman and Rose found a receptive audience when they set up community meetings in Muhuru Bay to discuss these problems. “The community had identified girls’ education [as an issue] before I ever came,” Broverman said. “They just didn’t have the resources or the leadership.” After much discussion, the community settled on the idea of a girls’ boarding school staffed with female teachers. Construction of the school began in November 2008, and it’s expected to be complete by June 2009. But the school itself is only one of many projects being carried out by Duke, Egerton, and the Muhuru Bay community under the umbrella title Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research (WISER). Broverman said, “The heart of WISER is enhancing the social capital of girls, which will have this trickle-down effect on economy and health.” (See www.girleffect.org for more information.) At the same time, she points out, WISER is seeking to offer opportunities for the entire community. One wing of the school will be a community center with Internet access and space for computer and health classes. A solar-powered water system will provide clean water for the school plus 200 other people. There will be after-school enrichment programs for the primary schools in the area. And in the summers, the school will host the co-educational Camp WISER, which has already been piloted in Muhuru Bay and led by Duke students. Duke students have worked with Broverman in Muhuru Bay every summer
from top, clockwise: Duke students celebrating with Kenyan students; Young boys helping distribute WISER flyers advertising the new school; Sherryl Broverman with her host family; Students performing for the land buying ceremony
For more information about WISER, see www.wisergirls.org.
w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u 1 1
of Computers Use by Michele Lynn
That’s the study of how you design mechanisms where you have to make some joint decision based on the preferences of multiple parties. We look at how you create these mechanisms to get good outcomes even when people behave strategically.” Mechanism design, a subfield of microeconomic theory, is based on game theory, which explores how individuals act strategically when there are other players who are also acting strategically. This relatively young field is receiving recognition as evi-
hile in third grade in his native Amsterdam, Vince Conitzer took his first computer programming course, along with a friend. “The adults thought it was so cute that here were these little kids who were going to take a computer course for adults along with us,” he said. “But of course, being kids, we actually picked it up a little faster. And after a couple of classes, they were asking us for help.” Although Conitzer, now an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Economics at Duke, didn’t have much opportunity to take computer science courses again until he reached college, he had clearly found his niche. At Duke, he researches the intersection of economics and computer science, particularly artificial intelligence. “Basically, I work on computational aspects of microeconomics,” said Conitzer. “I work on a variety of topics, but a lot of it involves mechanism design.
1 2 g i s t f r o m t h e m i l l • fa s plrli n2g0 0280 0 9
denced by the awarding of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Economics for fundamental work in mechanism design. Conitzer outlines the basics of this field in his course syllabus by explaining that mechanism design studies how to design the game (or “mechanism”) so that self-interested behavior will lead to good outcomes. He notes that while computer scientists cannot directly control the behavior of (self-interested) users, they can give users incentives to behave in a desirable way. Conitzer says that every time voters go to the polls to elect leaders, they participate in a real-life example of mechanism design. “People have different and conflicting preferences about who they would like to see elected. When there are only two candidates, it’s clear to most people how
At Duke, Conitzer’s research focuses on the design of new marketplaces and other negotiation protocols that allow humans and software agents to express their preferences naturally and accurately, and that generate good outcomes based on these preferences.
duke university photography
to vote. But when there are more than two candidates, it gets more complicated.” He uses the example of Ralph Nader’s candidacy in the 2008 presidential election. “People may vote strategically if they think that the candidate they actually support may lose,” he said. “So even if you supported Nader, you may have voted for Obama because you didn’t think Nader could win.” Conitzer’s research includes the design of incentive mechanisms to reach good outcomes in spite of such strategic behavior. Real-world applications of Conitzer’s research can also be found aboard airplanes. Conitzer has been developing techniques for computing the optimal way of assigning air marshals to locations in a randomized way. “Imagine that you control some set of guards and you can position them in places as you try to prevent an attack,” he said. “This is in some sense a game theoretic problem. If I want to defend a building and I have some limited set of guards, I can’t guard every entrance. I can randomly put them somewhere. Similarly, there isn’t a federal air marshal on every flight.” “In 2006, my colleagues and I wrote a theoretical paper on this,” he said. “We thought it was a nice little theoretical paper that wouldn’t have much influence, but it turns out that some people
at [the University of Southern California] actually picked up on the paper. And they used these techniques at Los Angeles International Airport for the placement of guards at checkpoints and for traffic and canine units. And they are starting to use it to assign federal air marshals to flights.” Conitzer, who joined the Duke faculty in 2006, hadn’t planned on spending his career in the world of American academia. “When I was 17 and had finished high school in Amsterdam, I wanted to do one year of exchange in the U.S.,” Conitzer said. After spending a year at California’s Claremont McKenna College, he realized that the flexibility of the American educational system was a good fit for him. “In Holland, there was a lot less freedom in choosing your courses,” he said. “You choose more the direction that you want to go in and that determines the courses you have to take. I knew that I liked math and economics, and the little bit of computer science that I knew at that point, but I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.” Conitzer transferred to Harvard University where he concentrated in applied math and had sub-concentrations in economics and computer science. He continued his studies at Carnegie Mellon University, where he received his Ph.D. in computer
science. “Tuomas Sandholm, who was my Ph.D. advisor, is one of the world’s leaders in combinatorial auctions, where you search through all kinds of combinations of allocating resources,” he said. “That’s how I got involved in this area.” Also while at Carnegie Mellon, Conitzer consulted for Sandholm’s company, CombineNet, which utilizes combinatorial auctions to increase the speed and efficiency of sourcing decisions for companies. “At some point, on my work visa, somebody made a spelling mistake so it said “Combinet.” which turned out to be a dating service,” he said, laughing. “I decided that I would stay working for Tuomas!” At Duke, Conitzer’s research focuses on the design of new marketplaces and other negotiation protocols that allow humans and software agents to express their preferences naturally and accurately, and that generate good outcomes based on these preferences. It also includes the design of software agents that can act strategically in settings where multiple parties all pursue their own interests. This requires the use of concepts from game theory, as well as finding efficient algorithms for computing the corresponding solutions. “Computer science isn’t just about making faster computers,” said Conitzer. “It’s about making better use of those computers.” w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u 1 3
Mapping the Ties That Bind Graphic “flip books” Show Patterns of Social Exchange by Mary-Russell Robe rson
uke Sociologist James Moody wants to know why you behave in an acceptable manner, even
when you don’t have to. “I’m interested in how social life remains ordered,” he said. “We don’t live in a Lord of the Flies world. There’s all this chaos, but when we get up in the morning, things work.” Moody, 39, is one of the world’s experts on mapping and interpreting social networks—the interactions among a group of people or organizations. He came to Duke in 2006, and is an associate professor and the director of graduate studies in the sociology department. His varied work illuminates issues such as classroom management, terrorist networks and the spread of disease. In particular, Moody is interested in the structure of communication in groups and what happens when members leave. “Think about Star Wars,” said Moody, sitting in his office surrounded by hundreds of books, two desktop computers, and little else. “All ideas move from Darth Vader to everyone else. You take out the bad guy and it all falls apart. In the real world, most organizations have redundant connections. That allows society to remain stable. People come and go, but ideas remain circulating.” For example, in the society of an elementary school, the circulating ideas might include jump-rope songs and hand-clapping games that children learn from each other
14 gist from the mill • spri ng 2009
at recess. All the fifth-graders graduate every year, but the games can remain remarkably similar over time. On the larger scale of countries, the circulating ideas might include things like who has the right-of-way on a public street: a pedestrian, a car, or a cow. Games, beliefs and behaviors travel from person to person, but it’s not always obvious how they remain in circulation when the network’s members graduate, resign, move, or die. If you wanted to destroy the ideas and behaviors circulating in a terrorist group or a gang, for instance, which people would you need to remove from the network? These questions fascinate Moody, and
one way he explores them is by creating diagrams showing people and the pathways along which “goods” move, whether they are germs or social norms. He illustrates a couple of simple examples on the whiteboard in his office. Dots (called nodes) represent people, and lines between them represent relationships. If nodes 1 through 5 are connected in a straight line, the removal of node 3 cuts off communication between nodes 1 and 5. But if nodes 1 through 5 are connected in a circle, the removal of 3 does not prevent communication between 1 and 5. Cohesive networks, like the circle, contain redundant paths that preserve communication even when members or relationships
diagrams courtesy of james moody
The Structure of Romantic and Sexual Relations at “Jefferson High School”
Mapping Human Interactions
Each circle represents a student and lines connecting students represent romantic relations occurring within the 6 months preceding the interview. Numbers under the figure count the number of times that pattern was observed (i.e. we found 63 pairs unconnected to anyone else).
A snapshot from a network movie of a teacher trying to control a classroom.
are removed. A small town is an example of a network with lots of redundancy, said Moody, who grew up in such a setting in Montana. “Your butcher is also your brotherin-law,” he said. “It’s hard to have a secret.” Using these maps, Moody and other sociologists are finding that many communities and organizations share a similar structure: dense clusters connected by fewer, random ties. For example, a working mother may have relationships with clusters of like-minded people at her child’s school, her job and her church, and these clusters may overlap. But the same woman may also have several relationships with people who move in
very different clusters, such as the boy she tutors at her child’s school. These random ties between clusters keep society as a whole connected. These same, but more distant ties are the links that underlie the average of six “degrees” to separate any two people on the globe despite the fact that we spend most of our time with people like ourselves. Groups that deliberately cut off ties to the rest of society, such as religious cults, may become isolated and relatively unusual in their thinking and behaviors. Moody’s frustration with network maps is that most show only a slice of time. Imagine a diagram showing sexual liaisons among
people in a particular town for a particular week. There may be a line between Pat and Stacy and another line between Pat and Terry, but unless you know when each relationship began and ended, you cannot know if a sexual disease could have traveled from Stacy to Terry via Pat. To integrate the dimension of time into the visualizations, Moody makes movies or “flip books” of network maps. To illustrate, he brings up one of these flip books on his computer screen, which details the romances at Jefferson High School, an all-white school in the Midwest. Watching the flip book makes it clear that even though a couple of hundred students are connected in a huge circular shape by the end of the movie, the circle was never whole in any particular week. That means a sexually transmitted disease introduced by one person would not have been able to travel the entire circle. Some of the couples would have broken up—and broken the circle—before the disease had a chance to travel all the way around. Moody likes visual depictions because they allow him and other researchers to use intuition to synthesize lots of data at once. “Quantitative studies have been very good at capturing one dimension,” he said, “but intuition tends to be multivariate—you can see lots of different layers of information at one time.” He hopes that being able to see those layers more clearly will help him and other sociologists discover new patterns in social networks and more fully understand the workings of human societies.
w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u
Janie Long Director, Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Life by Paul Du denhefe r
Janie Long, the director of Duke’s Center for Lesbian, Gay,
16 gist from the mill • spri ng 2009
Duke University Photography
Bisexual & Transgender Life, has been an administrator, scholar, and family therapist for more than 20 years. Janie was a minister at churches in Chapel Hill and WinstonSalem, and it was her work as a minister that sparked her interest in therapy and counseling. “Parishioners would come to my office with all kinds of personal and family problems. Maybe their spouse had an affair, or their child was taking drugs. I began to think about ways in which I could be more helpful to families.” After leaving the ministry and receiving her Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy, she was hired by the Department of Child and Family Development at the University of Georgia. In her second year of teaching, personal circumstances convinced her to be open about her sexual orientation. “It was important for me to be who I was and especially to show my students that it was OK to be authentic,” she said. On top of her regular teaching and research responsibilities, Janie helped form a faculty-staff group to deal with LGBT issues and, later, a student group. She also played a key role in developing a series of statewide conferences titled “Beyond Tolerance,” because, she said, “I wanted to play an open and visible role related to supporting LGBT students as well as other minority students at UGA.” While she taught the undergraduate sexuality course there, most of her teaching responsibility was with graduate students. When she arrived at Georgia, not a single graduate student openly identified as gay or lesbian. “By the time I left, almost half had done so.” Her tenure meeting included, she notes wryly, claims that she “attracted the wrong kind of student… Because I advised mostly minority students, it did not leave much to the imagination to figure out the message.” After leaving Georgia, Janie held positions at the University of Louisiana, Purdue, and Antioch University New England. “By the time I got to Antioch, I had been training family therapists for 16 years. I was looking for a change, and I wanted a position in which I could work directly with the LGBT community.” She also wanted to
live close again to her family in North Carolina. “This job is a wonderful mix of many things from my professional past: my research and administrative and advocacy interests—all the things that I have been passionate about over my career,” she said. The LGBT Center, as it’s commonly known, provides education and support services to not only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students, but to the entire Duke community, including faculty and staff. “That’s what makes us unique among similar centers,” Janie explained. Located in 02 West Union Building, the Center has a library of some 2,000 books and a growing collection of DVDs for rent. And there’s the David Bohnett Cyber Center, an informal, comfortable room with six computers and wireless Internet. In raising the profile of the Center, Janie acknowledges that she has to confront stereotypes of the LGBT community. “Many students have gotten opinions about the Center without ever actually experiencing,” she said. “They may have preconceived ideas of what the Center does and who the Center is for. I hate to think of a student in agony, who may literally be dying, over issues of gender or sexual orientation, who wants to get help from the Center but who feels that they can’t come because they’ve heard stories about ‘those people’ in ‘that place.’ That’s the thought that haunts me. And I’ve made it my goal to let the University know that the LGBT Center is a place where everybody is welcome, that it is a place where you can come if you need help, want to find community, are looking for information related to sexuality and gender, or need a quiet place to study.” “Many people have asked why I would leave a tenured faculty position as a full professor to take this position,” she continued. “I love teaching and being an administrator for academic units. I worked with a multitude of wonderful students through the years many of whom are now teaching and even chairing departments at universities around the world. I was ready for a change after 16 years. I hoped for a position where I could continue to teach but that would also allow me to more directly support and advocate for LGBT students,” she said. “I love the work that I do. Every day as I walk to my office and see the chapel in the distance, I know that I made the right decision.”
Shannyn Piper Taking a Closer Look at Acculturation in Latinos By Michele Lynn
The teen years can be fraught with challenges. And those chal-
Duke University Photography
lenges can be even more intense for Latino adolescents in the U.S. who, in addition to dealing with the trials of self-discovery common to all teens, are also contending with the process of acculturation. The challenge of acculturation, and the link between it and increased substance use by Latino adolescents, piqued the interest of Duke senior Shannyn Piper, so she began to research it. Piper began her inquiry during a summer 2008 internship at Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy. “When I was looking through the literature about assimilation processes related to Latino adolescents, I came upon the surprising trend that, as adolescents assimilate and acculturate, they tend to increase their substance use, particularly alcohol, inhalants and illegal substances,” she said. “The literature on this subject is very straightforward in establishing that connection but it doesn’t really explain it very well. I wanted to explore that a little more.” In December, she received a Jacqueline Anne Morris Memorial Fellowship, which offers $500 in research support for a mentored project. In spring 2009, Piper will test a mediation model on the data set—which is from the Latino Adolescent Migration Health and Adaptation Project from the Carolina Population Center at UNC—that she is using for her research. Piper says that she has found that the strong family support of the Latino culture is a protective factor against substance abuse. “And I think it’s also very important to note the connection between depression and the stress associated with acculturation,” she said. “Latina adolescents have extremely high levels of depression.” Nearly half of female adolescent Latinas express depressive symptoms, Piper said, and Latina teens have a suicide attempt rate that is nearly twice that of other ethnic groups with the exception of Native Americans. “The fact that depression is so related to acculturation is kind of frightening,” said Piper. “That is one of the main reasons I chose to specifically look at depression and acculturation because depression and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. As one becomes more assimilated, one tends to abuse substances more; I wanted to see if there is a link there. Depression is a very real but not very widely acknowledged problem in Latino adolescents, especially for girls.”
While Piper studied Spanish in her Houston high school, it wasn’t until starting at Duke that she became interested in Latin American culture in the United States. “My interest in the relationship between Latinos and the U.S. intensified after I studied abroad in Mexico during my junior year,” she said. “I returned from Mexico realizing how much privilege I have as a U.S. citizen and how underprivileged some individuals are who come to this country not knowing the language and dealing with a system that isn’t necessarily built to serve them. It made me want to focus on the Latino population because I feel that not enough people in the highest academic sectors are focusing on acculturation and substance abuse research.” Piper—who has a public policy major and environmental science minor— expects her research experience to be instrumental in her future career. After graduating in May, she hopes to do Teach for America or another public policy fellowship program for two years and then return to school for both a law degree and a master’s degree in public administration. “I ultimately want to move into the public interest law sector, possibly doing public law research at a nonprofit,” she said. “My dream is to work for the ACLU. I want to work to ensure that each and every person has equal access to the same opportunities; I believe that the law system is one of the most concrete and fast ways to effect changes in an individual’s life.” Piper’s passion for social justice continues a family legacy of helping others. “I got interested in government from seeing my mother, who is a teacher, work with different social programs outside of her school,” she said. “As a teacher, she was a service provider in the community but often times the local school board or city government wouldn’t work with teachers in a way that was best for students. I wanted to study from the government side why things like that happen and how to prevent them.” Being a woman of color also influenced her research choice. “I’m a minority but I’m a third-generation college student,” she said. “Everyone in my family is educated, and I grew up with so many advantages. Part of my wanting to do this research is that I felt, ‘I have so much—how can I give back to people who weren’t born into such privilege?’”
w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u
a sk th e social sci e ntist
What factors do you think will be most important in order for the economy to improve? There are two ways of answering this question, one which focuses on the short-term, and one that focuses on the longerterm issues facing the economy. To me, the key factors in the short-term performance of the economy are confidence in the financial system and aggregate demand. On the financial front, the investors of all stripes have “flown to quality” by dumping risky assets and hoarding cashlike instruments. Investors will eventually seek higher returns, but in the meantime, policymakers need to do what they can to lower the degree of perceived risk in the economy. On the aggregate demand front, private investment and consumption spending are depressed, and there is room for a fiscal stimulus on the part of the government, but whatever new spending the government does needs to be as productive as possible. I can’t address all the specifics of President Obama’s plan, but I think a very strong case can be made for more infrastructure spending. Over the longer term, our economy needs more coherent fiscal policy. Much has been gained from improvements in the conduct of monetary policy in the past 30 years. Fiscal policy, in contrast, is incoherent, and its conduct is dominated by political gamesmanship. A president and Congress with the stomach to tackle some of the big fiscal policy issues (Social Security, Medicare, tax reform) could have an enormous impact on our economic future.
It’s easy to blame the economic crisis on the speculators
nation have the potential to make important contributions to improving our economy. First, monies in President Obama’s stimulus package could be used to help retrain individuals whose jobs have been cut permanently. These individuals would be offered tuition support to retrain in any number of healthcare-related professions where shortages exist and are projected for years come. Nursing is an excellent example; the shortage of RN’s is projected to reach 500,000 by the year 2025. Worker retraining could have a tremendous economic impact and help meet the care needs of older adults who account for 50 percent of hospital days, 60 percent of all ambulatory adult primary care visits, 70 percent of all home care visits, and 85 percent of residents in nursing homes. Second, with regard to health disparities and the large number of uninsured, if the new president is successful in healthcare reform, the economy will be stimulated through the expansion of new models of care while providing universal access to ALL Americans.
and greedheads in our financial institutions. We could take the advice of our Vice President and “throw these guys in the brig.” Or blame individual citizens living beyond their means, who took out mortgages on houses they could not afford and ran up big credit card bills they couldn’t pay off. But the message from social psychology is that you and I would probably act pretty much the same way if we were in the right situation. This is the point of Milgram’s famous shock experiment—that pretty much everyone will deliver electric shocks to others when in the right situation. So, what does the power of the situation tell us about the economy? From this perspective, citizens make bad economic decisions when government does not think through the behavioral consequences of its economic policies. Government regulation that structures situations appropriately promotes responsible action. Perhaps in line with this reasoning, President Obama appointed behavioral economist Cass Sunstein to head his economic regulatory efforts. But this idea goes beyond just regulation. It suggests that social scientists can play an important role in interpreting new government policies. Social scientists are needed to identify what behaviors are likely to result from the newly created situations: Spending within one’s means? Saving for retirement? Making money for stockholders? Driving safely? Living a healthful lifestyle? Or the reverse of each of these? Thus, input from social science is needed to move forward. Only by evaluating the behavioral consequences of new legislation can we really understand what the impact will be on the economy. After all, the economy is the cumulative product of each of our individual decisions.
Chip Bailey SSRI Faculty Fellow 2008-09
Wendy Wood James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
A. Craig Burnside Professor, Department of Economics
Two factors related to healthcare and the health of our
18 gist from the mill • spri ng 2009
JENNIFER L AN SFORD Associate Professor, Social Science Research Institute, Duke University Jennifer Lansford has been selected as Associate Professor of the Social Science Research Institute—SSRI’s first faculty appointment. We talked with Lansford to find out what this appointment means to her and to learn a bit more about her research. Q: You were chosen as SSRI’s first faculty appointment in an effort to link to and complement the work of faculty in the social sciences. What does this mean to you and how does it relate to your research? A: I am delighted to have the honor of becoming the first SSRI faculty appointment. I very much admire the efforts of SSRI and am thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with such a well-respected group of colleagues in working to realize these goals. The questions I focus on in my own research are best addressed using an interdisciplinary approach. Q: Why do you think it’s important to pursue interdisciplinary research? A: Individual disciplines tend to be grounded in their own sets of research methodologies, analytic techniques, and conceptual approaches to understanding problems. Interdisciplinary research is important because it allows researchers to see beyond the sometimes narrow confines of understanding a problem only from their own background. It challenges them to understand more holistically how different aspects of a problem and possible solutions can come together when viewed from different perspectives.
Q: Your research focuses on the development of aggression and other behavior problems in youth. Do you feel that friends and family play a vital role in the attitudes and behaviors of youth today? Is this similar to nature vs. nurture? A: Friends and family are definitely important in shaping the attitudes and behaviors of youth today. One of the best predictors of
Q: What do you hope to achieve with your research? Your findings have been used to inform national debates regarding corporal punishment, to evaluate parenting programs in developing countries, and to suggest alternatives to traditional approaches of aggregating anti-social youth in juvenile justice, mental health and education settings. A: I have two overarching goals for my research. The first is to advance scientific knowledge in the areas I study. The second is to use the research findings to inform policy and practice outside of academic settings. Scientific research can provide guidance in preventing many pressing social problems and intervening when such problems do occur. The challenge is to make research findings and the process of scientific inquiry accessible to people outside of academia.
David Riecks, University of Illinois at Urbana
Q: How has your background prepared you to be a research scientist in your field? A: My interests (in understanding family and peer relationships and behavior problems among diverse cultural groups) extend back to my undergraduate years, when I majored in psychology and cultural anthropology at Duke. I went on to graduate school in developmental psychology at the University of Michigan, where I analyzed data from France, Germany, Japan, and the United States to investigate how cultural contexts alter the ways in which family relationships relate to friendships, and the ways in which social relationships affect psychological well-being. Since then, I have undertaken several cross-cultural studies culminating in a nine-country study of parents’ behavior and children’s adjustment. Recently, I’ve used that research experience in diverse countries as a consultant to UNICEF in its effort to evaluate the efficacy of several programs designed to improve parenting, and thereby children’s adjustment, in developing countries.
adolescents’ problem behaviors (violence, delinquency, drug use, risky sexual behavior, and so forth) is the extent to which their friends engage in those behaviors. Another important predictor is the quality of relationships with parents, and the level of supervision and monitoring provided by parents; adolescents are much less likely to engage in problem behavior if they have positive, supportive relationships with their parents and if their parents know how they spend their time and with whom. So, the nurture part of the equation is certainly vital. The nature part is important, too. The focus of research today is on how genes and environments interact to shape behavioral and psychological outcomes.
w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u 1 9
Triangle Census Research Data Center: More than Counting People by Sylvia Pfeiffenbe rge r
“It’s one of Duke’s well-kept secrets,” said Gale Boyd,
Duke University Photography
executive director of the Triangle Census Research Data Center, located in Social Sciences 329-D. The Triangle RDC allows researchers whose proposals have been approved by the U.S. Census Bureau to access confidential microdata not released to the public. The Triangle RDC is the only one in the Southeast, and one of only nine around the country. “There are a lot of people who could avail themselves of this fairly distinctive resource, but don’t even know it’s here,” Boyd said. That was brought home to Boyd last October, when Duke hosted the Census RDC national research conference. “Someone came up to me and said, ‘I’m so glad to know about this.’ I thought it was someone from one of the other schools. Turns out the person was from the sociology department, one building over from us.” What makes the Census RDCs uniquely valuable to researchers is both the level of geographical and demographic detail, and the broad range of microdata researchers can access. “Instead of looking at all of Durham County, research can be done in some cases with individual household level data. It all still operates under very strong confidentiality restrictions. None of that data ever leaves, in fact none of it even physically resides here at Duke,” Boyd explained. Secure computers in the RDC lab connect to the Census Bureau headquarters in Maryland, where the actual computing is done. “An economic census is conducted every five years, with lots of statistical surveys sampling specific population groups for specific information on households as well as businesses,” Boyd said. Through a funding partnership with UNC, any researcher from Duke or the UNC system can use the Triangle RDC at no cost. “I like to say that using the RDC is not free for Duke and UNC faculty, it’s paid for,” said Boyd. “If you had to get a grant to pay the fees to use the data center, you would have a chicken and egg problem. This way you can do preliminary research on your own research time and demonstrate a research concept without paying fees, and then go out and apply for grants for travel money and to pay grad students. The university and the research community all benefit from that.” The lab administrator is Bert Grider, a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student and full-time U.S. Census Bureau employee. Grider assists users, safeguards data confidentiality, and guides researchers through the proposal process.
Bert Grider (l) and Gale Boyd discuss a project in the SSRI computer lab. This lab is similar to the Triangle RDC, which provides confidential data.
“I’m the gatekeeper, but my job isn’t to keep,” Grider said. “Part of my job description is to help people get in the door.” “We’re constantly working with the Census Bureau to help people navigate the proposal process and make sure they can get their projects approved in a timely manner so they can do the research they want to do,” Boyd added. He has been using confidential data in his own research for 15 years, and remembers when he used to travel from Chicago to Washington D.C. to get the kind of access his lab offers. “It is a much more efficient way to get research done,” said Boyd. He is something of an expert on efficiency—he currently develops benchmarks for measuring energy efficiency and productivity in manufacturing plants for the EPA’s Energy Star program. “I’m both a user of the RDC as well as the director. Most of my time is as a researcher,” said Boyd. “In the very competitive academic and research market, having something like that, using the confidential data, makes research stand out.”
Learn more about the RDC at www.econ.duke.edu/tcrdc/.
20 gist from the mill • spri ng 2009
Social Science @ Duke Social Science Departments
University Institutes and Centers (UICs)
African & African American Studies www.aas.duke.edu/aaas
Duke Global Health Institute globalhealth.duke.edu
Cultural Anthropology ca-www.aas.duke.edu
Duke Institute for Brain Sciences www.dibs.duke.edu
Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy www.genome.duke.edu
Program in Education www.duke.edu/web/education
John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute www.jhfc.duke.edu/fhi
The Kenan Institute for Ethics kenan.ethics.duke.edu
Political Science www.poli.duke.edu
Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions www.nicholas.duke.edu/institute
Psychology & Neuroscience pn.aas.duke.edu
Social Science Research Institute www.ssri.duke.edu
Public Policy pubpol.duke.edu Sociology www.soc.duke.edu Program in Womenâ€™s Studies www.duke.edu/womstud w w w. ss r i . d u k e . e d u
Non-Profit Org U.S. Postage PAID Durham, NC Permit No. 60
P. O . B o x 9 0 4 2 0 | D u r h a m , NC 2 7 7 0 8
gist f ro m t h e M i l l
The Ethics of Research with Human Subjects As the University works to ensure that its students develop into active learners and involved citizens, an increasing number of undergraduates will undertake independent research. Engaging students as competent and ethically aware researchers is necessarily time-intensive; students require careful and ongoing advice to effectively plan, implement, and complete research. Nowhere is this problem more pressing than in research involving human subjects. Increasing numbers of students are likely to undertake projects involving research with human subjects as they integrate service experiences with their educational pursuits and continue to seek funding from Duke summer research programs. To facilitate faculty efforts to educate students about ethical conduct in researching human subjects, Alexandra Cooper, Associate Director for Education and Training, SSRI and Lorna Hicks, Associate Director, Office of Research Support, are developing a series of multi-media pedagogical modules targeting issues faculty identify as central to their studentsâ€™ likely research projects. In consultation with a number of faculty, they will tailor modules to needs identified (such as cultural
sensitivity; private versus public information; subject rights, risks, and informed consent; and vulnerable subjects, e.g., children, people with HIV/AIDS). Each module will stand alone and will be broadly useful to scholars across the Duke campus. â€œBy portraying applications of key ethical concepts in real-world settings, the modules we are developing will prepare students for hands-on involvement in mentored research projects - preparation that is essential as significant numbers of undergraduates embrace the considerable responsibilities that projects involving research with human subjects entail,â€? Cooper explained. While the primary target audience is advanced undergraduates, Cooper and Hicks anticipate that these stand-alone modules may also be valuable educational tools for graduate students and for faculty new to human subjects research. The modules will also, of course, serve faculty and graduate students in their roles as educators in their classrooms, and expect that they may also refer students who are developing research proposals to particular modules as a refresher or as a model illustrating a particular point or issue.