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Current CRA Student Research

Current Research – Community Research and Action Doctoral Program Students

Magaela Bethune:

Women and Families Surviving Breast Cancer Project
The aim of this ethnographic study is to explore the dynamics of the lived experiences of young women who have been diagnosed with and are survivors of breast cancer and their families. Auto-ethnographic, observational, and narrative accounts of the lived experiences of the researcher and of other young women breast cancer survivors who engage in social support group activities will be examined for emergent themes related to the impact of a cancer diagnosis on the families of breast cancer-surviving women. This study is set in a local cancer support agency in middle Tennessee.

Joseph Gardella:

Supporting Student School Connectedness: School Climate Protective Factors for Repeatedly Victimized Adolescents
School connectedness, often presented as a contextual link between individuals and educational environments, has repeatedly been recognized as a protective factor that supports long-term positive development, reduces risk behaviors, improves academic performance, and leads to improved mental health. Using climate data from 109 Tennessee high schools this study will test the relations

Nikolay Mihaylov:

Releasing the Waters: A Study of and for the Anti-fracking Movement in Bulgaria
I am studying the processes of local mobilization and national protest movement against the plans to extract natural gas through fracking in Bulgaria. The project is conducted with the support and participation of Bulgarian activists and aims to facilitate learning from this instance of civic activity that can be used for future social actions. Data sources comprise in-depth interviews, discussion and meeting minutes, and media publications. A qualitative analysis will aim to answer the questions: 1. How did participants get involved in the movement? 2. What structures and processes for mobilization developed? 3. How did the movement achieve success in influencing policy? 4. How was the public debate framed? 5. What were the cultural specifics of the movement? Social movements and community organizing theories serve as guiding frameworks.

Hasina Moyhuddin:

Religious Identity Development of Muslim American Youth
This study seeks to understand how Muslim-American youth develop their religious identity in the context of widespread Islamophobia in the United States, the impact of proximal microsystems on their religious identity development, and whether a process of “religious socialization” may serve as a protective factor for these youth. The mixed-method design will utilize both focus groups and a survey instrument to understand the religious identity development of Muslim American students (ages 11-13) in the Nashville, TN area. The proposed project would contrast three particular school settings – public schools that have a large Muslim population, public schools that have few Muslim students, and Islamic schools. The hope is that the present research will support the positive youth development of Muslim students.

Understanding Interfaith Organizations Using an Interfaith Lens
Recent religious tensions in the United States have prompted greater interest in interfaith work and interfaith organizations. Using a mixed method design of in-depth interviews, participant observation, and surveys, this project examines five different interfaith organizations in the Southeast, each with a different organizational model, to better understand the impact of interfaith efforts on individual members, the group itself, and on the larger community. In addition, the research team is intentionally an interfaith group reflecting on its own processes, to provide greater depth and breadth to the analysis of interfaith organizations.

Amie Thurber:

Envision Cayce
My research interest is in reparation, and particularly the transformative potential of narrative to repair the damage inequality causes to both individual identity formation and broader social cohesion. I am currently collaborating with Cayce United, a resident-based advocacy organization based in Nashville’s largest remaining housing project - which is now slated for redevelopment. I am coordinating an inter-institutional research team involving faculty and students at Fisk, TSU and Vanderbilt working in partnership with Cayce United to explore residents' concerns in the redevelopment process, examine the diverse and divergent meanings of community held by public housing residents and their adjacent neighbors, and understand processes that facilitate authentic resident engagement in the shaping of their future neighborhood.