Faculty Research Grants: Current Projects With an International Focus

| October 4, 2013

Webster’s Faculty Research Grant program is designed to encourage and promote faculty research and professional development through a variety of possible discipline-related projects.

Applications for Faculty Research Grants are currently being accepted. Status or status-track faculty are encouraged to review the Call for Applications and submit their project proposals by Monday, Nov. 11.

Although not required, some of this year’s Faculty Research Grant recipients have chosen projects with a decidedly international perspective.

Sexual Orientation and International Human Rights Law


Danielle MacCartney, assistant professor of sociology and associate dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, credits Webster’s global reach as an influence on the scope of her research. MacCartney has long been interested in public policy as it relates to sexual orientation. Encouraged by colleagues Lindsey Kingston and Amanda Rosen, she applied for a Faculty Research Grant to “take it to an international level” and formulated a plan to study sexual orientation and international human rights law.

This past summer, MacCartney traveled to Brussels, Belgium, where she met with representatives of ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association).  As a result of her collaboration with ILGA, she was able to contribute to the ILGA’s annual State-Sponsored Homophobia Report.

“It’s a report about laws and policies for gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender folk in various countries around the world. And that report is published and then disseminated through the United Nations,” said MacCartney. “Because of this grant, I had an opportunity to write a piece for that [report] explaining a little bit about U.S. constitutional law.”

Her experience has opened the door to further collaboration, as well. “They have invited me to come back and collaborate with them again on another project that has to do with a comparison of legal systems between the U.S. and other countries and how they approach the legal position of gays and lesbians in society,” she said. “This was a really good fit for what I’ve been working on for a while. The grant really allowed me to get much further into the international side of  law and public policy. It’s exciting work for me.”

Freelance Foreign Reporting in the Digital Age


Eileen Solomon teaches undergraduate journalism courses and has been with Webster since 1994. Her expertise is in broadcast journalism, but she says that the field has changed in recent years so that journalism students today need to be familiar with and able to utilize a variety of media. “Students should be platform agnostic,” she says.

“It seems that you have to be able to do everything in the journalism field today. Even if you work for a newspaper, you’re shooting video. Even if you work for a television station, you’re writing for online. So we’re trying to make sure students have across-the-board skills because the divisions will continue to shift.”

One of those shifts is the increase in freelancers in the journalism field. “As many as 19 percent of reporters, analysts, and correspondents are freelancers or ‘stringers,’” said Solomon. “I thought it would be interesting to look at what freelancers were doing. What skills do you have to have to be a successful freelancer?”

Solomon’s research plan is to examine freelance foreign reporting in the digital age. She plans to spend a few weeks in Istanbul, Turkey, in the spring where she expects to interview several freelance journalists and to discover what skills these journalists use to do their reporting.

“Istanbul is a center for freelance journalists. It’s a city that is in two continents—Asia and Europe. Africa is close by. There’s a vibrant freelance community in Istanbul.”

The Effect of Currency Fluctuations on Latin American Multinational Firms


Arnoldo Rodriguez has taught international accounting at Webster for the past five years. He was encouraged early on by his department chair and the Dean’s office to take advantage of the Faculty Research Grant opportunity. This year, he is researching two-way currency fluctuations and their effect on certain Latin American multinational firms.

Latin American businesses have for many years worked with one-way currency fluctuation, Rodriguez said. “The currency fluctuation was always that the dollar was revaluating and their currencies were devaluating. So it was fairly easy for a company to establish how much [they would] have to pay in terms of local currency.”

However, in the last 10 years, that has changed, said Rodriguez, because of economic problems in the U.S., and Latin American companies are doing better.  “Instead of the dollar becoming more valuable, it becomes less valuable,” he explained. “The problem is that these firms were not used to that. The system didn’t have all the agents that were necessary to hedge against that kind of risk.”

Rodriguez is studying how these firms are reacting to this new reality. He has interviewed companies in Peru and Costa Rica so far and hopes to also visit firms in Chile and Colombia. As part of the study, he is examining changes in the economic systems of those countries relating to the shift in currency fluctuations, as well as public records that may show the effect of on individual corporations. Once his research is complete, his findings will be presented in a number of business conferences and peer-reviewed journals.


Category: Faculty

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