McCormack Grad Student a Fulbright-Fogarty Scholar in Kenya

Colleen Locke | Mon Jun 10, 2019

Award Will Support Michael Scanlon’s Dissertation on Labor Relations and Conflict in the Kenyan Health System

Michael Scanlon, a PhD candidate in the McCormack Graduate School, has become the latest UMass Boston student to receive the prestigious Fulbright award. Scanlon is one of only eight nationwide to receive a 2019-2020 Fulbright-Fogarty Award, offered through a partnership between the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and the Fogarty International Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The first grants were awarded in 2011 to promote the expansion of research in public health and clinical research in resource-limited settings.

Scanlon, 33, is a PhD candidate in global governance and human security in the Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance Department. The award will support his dissertation research on labor relations and conflict in the Kenyan health system.

“As in other African countries, the Kenyan health system has experienced recurrent mass strikes by health workers, particularly doctors and nurses, including a 100-day nationwide strike by doctors and 150-day nationwide strike by nurses in 2017,” Scanlon said. “I am particularly interested in labor relations and strikes by health workers in Kenya in the context of major reforms in health systems governance, financing, and policy over the past decade as well as long-term grievances related to poor pay and working conditions for public sector health workers.”

Although Scanlon’s award starts September 1, he is already in Kenya as a fellow in Health Systems Design and Global Health with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. He’s lived in the country for much of the last decade, ever since graduating from Indiana University in his home state in 2008. He returned to Indiana for his master’s in public health, and through his graduate program, was connected to Indiana University School of Medicine’s AMPATH program, a global health partnership between the Moi University School of Medicine in Kenya, the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Kenyan Ministry of Health, and a consortium of North American universities led by Indiana University. He worked with the AMPATH program in Kenya from 2011 to 2015, first as a research assistant, then research associate, and then program manager in health services research focused on children and adolescents living with HIV. He left Kenya in 2015 to pursue his PhD at UMass Boston.

“From an academic standpoint, I felt like the PhD program in global governance and human security would be an ideal setting to further explore my interests in global health from a critical and interdisciplinary perspective while honing my social science research skills,” Scanlon said. “The program really puts to the test a model for interdisciplinary teaching and learning, which in my experience was challenging and rewarding.”

After graduation, Scanlon hopes to stay in academia and become a professor of global health, balancing both teaching and research—skills he honed while teaching an Honors College course at UMass Boston in 2017.

“What I love most about global health as a field is that it provides an important vantage point for thinking about health and health care systems, but also for thinking in critical ways about politics, economics, history, and so on, while being strongly grounded in a commitment to equity and justice,” Scanlon said.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide. 

This year UMass Boston has two Fulbright alternates, and the Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance Department has been attracting students who earned Fulbright Awards at other institutions. Looking at just the Conflict Resolution Master’s Program, two current students are Fulbright winners, with at least three coming in the fall.

The next application deadline for Fulbright awards is October 8, 2019. Contact Louise Penner to get started.

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