Global Academic Partnership (GAP) Fellows

The Global Academic Partnership (GAP) aims to strengthen interdisciplinary research and curriculum development on global themes, enhance international scholarly ties, and raising the international profile at the University of Pittsburgh. GAP awards support interdisciplinary research collaborations, curriculum development, student exchanges, and other scholarly endeavors that include the creation or development of meaningful and sustainable institutional partnerships with international universities, foreign governments, international organizations, NGO's, and think tanks. Preference is given to projects that align with the Center’s research initiatives in Global HealthMigrationsContested Cities, and Critical World Ecologies.

In the spring of 2022, Dr. Caitlin Bruce, an associate professor of communication and GAP award recipient, hosted Beyond Crisis Creativity: Imagining New Futures Through Art and Youth Activism. The un-conference explored how cultural organizations made up of artists, young people, cultural workers, organizers, and neighbors take up supposedly devalued city spaces to create new vocabularies and heuristics for value beyond exchange value, and use cultural practices to tell stories of place and forge transnational connections.

Current GAP Fellows

Tyler Bickford teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in children’s literature and childhood studies in the Department of English. He advises graduate students working in those fields, as well as students studying media and technology and using ethnographic methods. Trained as an ethnomusicologist, his research focuses on contemporary children's media, especially popular music and digital technology, using ethnographic and cultural studies methods. He is the author of Tween Pop: Children’s Music and Public Culture (Duke University Press, 2020) and Schooling New Media: Music, Language, and Technology in Children's Culture (Oxford University Press, 2017). Over the next two years, Pitt’s Children’s Literature Program will partner with the Children’s Literature Unit at Newcastle University in the UK to launch a global scholarly network focused on children’s literature and social justice. The Children’s Literature Programs at Pitt and Newcastle have collaborated closely since 2018, and the Global Academic Partnership award will allow them to grow their network to include partner institutions in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. They will host a series of virtual and in person events (including simultaneous interpretation) focused on exploring the diverse meanings of social justice in children’s literature from different regions and sharing works that have not been translated into English. They hope to launch a critical series of translations of children’s books with social justice themes that have not been recognized by traditional publishers. 

Dr. Abi Fapohunda is an instructor in the Department of Africana Studies as well as a trained epidemiologist and health educator with a focus on research in health equity, health in the African diaspora, and effectiveness of community-based public health initiatives. Over the next two years, aided by the GAP fellowship, Dr. Fapohunda will partner with faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and Babcock University in Lagos, Nigeria in order to collect and share information regarding breast and cervical cancer awareness in underserved communities. Public health students, supported by this interdisciplinary group of faculty, will work to create a bridge between two specific communities of women: “hard-to-reach" women in Appalachia and the “invisible” women in Lagos, Nigeria. Dr. Fapohunda’s work will facilitate global partnership and additionally, help Pitt build a sustainable relationship with the Lakeshore Cancer Center in Lagos. 

Past GAP Fellows

Dr. Caitlin Bruce, Assistant Professor of Communications, has been awarded a Global Academic Partnership (GAP) grant for her project Global Creative Cities: Exploring Transnational Youth and Graffiti Cultures. Over the next two years, Dr. Bruce will be organizing a series of events (talks, workshops, and art production events) to develop an international dialogue around the themes of creative cities, youth, and graffiti practice within a global frame. Since the 1980s, graffiti has been a global phenomenon activated by transnational circuits of youth collectives. More recently, street art as an image-driven form of urban art has been yoked to city development projects as part of global adoption and localization of creative cities discourse. At a local, regional, national, and international level, street art and murals have been used for civic engagement, graffiti abatement, self-determination, beautification, and for urban redevelopment. There is a wave of exciting scholarship about the relationship between youth cultures, governmental apparatus, the culture industry, and activism. The constellation of graffiti, creative cities, and youth connect in specific cities across the globe, but there has been no sustained comparative work thinking these categories together. 
GAP Fellow, Assistant Professor
Adam Lowenstein works on issues relating to the cinema as a mode of historical, cultural, and aesthetic confrontation. His teaching and research link these issues to the relays between genre films and art films, cinema and digital media, the politics of spectatorship, and the construction of national cinemas (with particular attention to American, Australian, British, Canadian, French, Israeli, Italian, and Japanese cases). His areas of interest range from surrealism to trauma studies to Frankfurt School film and cultural theory. He is especially invested in horror studies and is the Director of Pitt’s Horror Studies Working Group as well as a board member of the George A. Romero Foundation. He played a central role in the acquisition of the George A. Romero Collection for Pitt’s Horror Studies Archive, an initiative that continues to grow through the University Library System’s Department of Archives and Special Collections. As GAP Fellow Dr. Lowenstein will work with colleagues to diversify and globalize the Horror Studies Archive recently created by Pitt's University Library System. The Global Horror Studies Archival and Research Network will be the first of its kind. Horror is a truly global vocabulary. Each nation has its own historically- and culturally- specific inflections regarding horror, but nearly every country in the world has an artistic horror tradition of some kind that is recognizable through the lens of the others, and all are shaped by transnational influences and global developments. To learn more and attend a virtual Global Horror Studios Session click here!  
Dr. Karen Park, assistant professor of linguistics, had been awarded a Global Academic Partnership (GAP) grant for "Integrating Scholarship and Practice Towards a Global Model of Biocultural Conservation." Along with collaborators at the University of Oxford, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and BirdLife International, Park studies how people across diverse language backgrounds engage with the natural world through naming, metaphor, and myth.  She and her research team are applying this research to the hypothesis that linguistic diversity has the potential to protect biodiversity and are investigating the mutual benefits of uniting linguistic and biological conservation. (To learn more about how language encodes our knowledge of the natural world, watch Park's "Musings from Cloud Cuckoo Land.") GAP funds will support a series of related language documentation workshops, graduate student exchanges, and public outreach events beginning in Fall 2018. The centerpiece will be a Biocultural Diversity Conference to take place at Pitt in September 2019 to explore the intersections of linguistic and biological diversity, culture, and conservation practice. This exciting project complements Park's other research on language change and endangerment in the Pacific and theoretical approaches to structure and meaning in language.  In a similar vein, another ongoing GAP project on refugees as an emerging frontier of humanitarian governance led by Dr. Heath Cabot is also entering its second year as part of a GSC initiative on migration.
Assistant Professor
As the Posvar Chair for International Security Studies and Director of the Matthew B. Ridgway Center, Williams conducts several student working groups, including the Russian Contract Killer Database which has compiled extensive evidence on Russian contract killings since the 1990s. Aside from his extensive consulting work for organizations like the United Nations and the CIA, he has also given Congressional testimony on organized crime.
Professor, Chair at the Matthew B. Ridgway Center