Institute on Local-Global Connections


Consistent with the mission of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and Kutztown University, the purpose of the institute is:

  • To provide opportunities for students to increase awareness of social work from a global perspective and help them explore possible careers in global social work
  • To create research and scholarship opportunities for faculty and students
  • To respond to the needs of the social work field for technical assistance (such as trainings, consultancy, research skills, topical expertise in global social work issues)
  • To provide opportunities for continuing education (conferences; courses)
  • To foster cross-cultural, local-global exchange, collaboration, and research
  • To promote global citizenship and strengthen cultural competence
About the Institute

The Institute for Local-Global Connections at the Kutztown University's Department of Social Work was established to foster scholarship and enable local-global exchange and partnerships, promote global citizenship, and strengthen cultural awareness among social work students, faculty, and professionals. The Institute acts as a catalyst for bringing together faculty's global and local connections, facilitates partnerships, and promotes research and innovation.  

The affiliates of the institute offer trainings and workshops, research skills, and expertise that include, but are not limited to, the areas of:

  • women's issues, domestic violence and reproductive health in the global context;
  • human trafficking;
  • global poverty and health issues;
  • immigration and refugee issues;
  • mental health and culturally sensitive interventions;
  • environmental degradation, disasters, and disaster recovery;
  • social work practice with communities and organizations in the international context;
  • cultural awareness;
  • international agreements and international institutions promoting global citizenship. 
Principal Investigator

Juliana Svistova, PhD, MSW


Dr. Heather LaBarre

Dr. Ahyoung Lee

Dr. Yasoda Sharma

  • Community Activities, Projects and Presentations

    • Social Work in the Global Environment Annual Conference
    • Trainings and Workshops - per request

    Svistova, J., Fogarty, B. (October 25, 2019), Designing short-term abroad and international service learning opportunities for social work students: Do’s and Don'ts, Council on Social Work Education Conference, Denver, CO

    Sharma, Y., Noyori-Corbett, C. (October 27, 2019), Building: Global Awareness among Students: Logic Model for Study Abroad Program, Council on Social Work Education Conference, Denver, CO

    Svistova, J., Pyles L., (November 9, 2018), Media Savvy Social Workers: Exploring the Role of Media in Disaster Situations. Council of Social Work Education, Orlando, FL

    Madrigal, C., Fogarty, B., Wilkie J., Lowrie, L., Kutztown University, (September 28, 2018), Mental Health Stressors, Recovery, and the Use of Digital Media in Puerto Rico: The Case of Hurricane Maria, West Chester, PA

    Madrigal, C. & Jayasundara, D. (2018, July). Bridging the gap between social work and social development through a practice mode: Applications to a disaster intervention strategy. Joint Social Work, Education and Social Development Conference, Dublin, Ireland.  

    Svistova, J., & Navitsky, L. (2018, July). Environmental justice and extractivist disaster recovery: Locating sustainability in post-earthquake Haiti. Joint Social Work, Education and Social Development Conference, Dublin, Ireland

    Wilkie, J., Fogarty, B., Lowrie, L., & Madrigal, C. (2018, May). Learning from disasters, supporting disaster recovery: Report from service learning trips and community-based research in Haiti and Puerto Rico. Kutztown, PA. 

    Blackwell-Rogers, K., Mousley, A., Weaver, R., & Svistova, J. (2018, May). Learning from disasters, supporting disaster recovery: Report from service learning trips and community-based research in Haiti and Puerto Rico. Kutztown, PA. 

    Blackwell-Rogers, K., Mousley, A., Weaver, R., & Svistova, J. (2018, April). Immersive field work in Haiti: An examination of gender and development, microcredit, and the building of cultural competency. Berks County Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference, Kutztown, PA.

    Madrigal, C. (Interviewee), Fogarty, B. (Interviewee), Lowrie, L. (Interviewee), Wilkie, J. (Interviewee), LaBarre, H. (Interviewer). (2018). Podcast on service learning trip to Puerto Rico [Audio podcast].

    Lee, A. (2018, January). Factors associated with ethnic minority volunteering: The role of personal and social resources and acculturation. The 22nd Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, Washington, DC.

    Lee, A. (2018, January). Health behaviors among Asian Americans: Moderating effects of acculturation. The 22nd Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, Washington, DC.

    Svistova, J. & Madrigal, C. (2018). Learning from Disasters, Supporting Disaster Recovery: Service Learning Trips and Community-Based Research in Haiti and Puerto Rico. University Funded Project.

    Madrigal, C. (2017, October). Lifetime and contextual sources of trauma that Muslim domestic violence survivors experience. Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Dallas, TX.  

    Wilkinson, K., Sharma, Y., Noyori-Corbett, C. (2017, October). Isolationism and xenophobia: Implications for transnational advocacy among refugee service providers. Council on Social Work Education 2017 Annual Program Meeting, Dallas, TX.

    Wei, F.H. & Pillai, V.K. (2017, October). Improve women's reproductive rights in India. Council on Social Work Education 2017 Annual Program Meeting, Dallas, TX. Svistova, J. & Pyles, L. (2018). Production of Disaster and Recovery in Post-Earthquake Haiti. Podcast:

    Murphy, K., doctoral student (2017). A Workable Balance: Paid Maternity Leave and the Connection to Female Leadership. Dissertation data collection in Helsinki, Finland.

    Houseal-Allport, P., doctoral student (2017). Making Meaning of Place: Facilitating Ecological Place-based Experiences with Youth. Dissertation data collection in Helsinki, Finland.

    Vafeas, J. (2015). Refugees in the European Union project. Greece.

    Vafeas, J. (2005). Social Needs Assessment in Pimampiro Region of Ecuador. 

  • Research and Publications

    Global Poverty

    Kim, Y. M. & Pandya, V. (2015). Education equity. In M. Odekon Editor (2th ed.) Encyclopedia of world poverty. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Reference.

    Pandya, V. & Kim, Y. M. (2015). Urban poverty program. In M. Odekon Editor (2th ed.) Encyclopedia of world poverty. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Reference.

    Sharma, Y. & Pillai, V. (2015). Dependency ratio. In Odekon. M., Golson, J. G. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of world poverty. (pp. 33-34). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

    International NGOs and Social Policy

    Pillai, V. K., Wei, F.H., & Maleku, A. (2013). International non-governmental organizations in Latin America and social capital: An empirical case study. Sage Open, 3 (4), DOI: 10.1177/2158244013516153.

    Sharma, Y. (2009). Review of the book Global social policy and governance, by Bob Deacon Sheffield. Journal of Policy Practice, 8(3), 260-262. (Book Review)

    Global Health

    Wei, F.H. (2018). The medical dispute mediation mechanism in the public sector: A study based on cases from the Kaohsiung City Department of Health. Social Development Issues, 40(1), 42-54.

    Pillai, V. K., Wang, Y. C., Wei, F. H. (2015). Urban-rural differences in healthy breast feeding practices in India: Implications for child malnutrition. Applied Clinical Research, Clinical Trails and Regulatory Affairs, 2(3), 1-5. 

    Wei, F. H. (2015). Modeling women's reproductive health in India: Implications for policy. Social Development Issues, 37 (3), 45-52.

    Wei, F. H., Pillai, V. K., & Maleku, A. (2014). Sanitation in India: Role of women's education, Health Science Journal: International Journal of Nursing Research and Review, 8 (1), 90-101.

    Pillai, V. K., Maleku, A., & Wei, F.H. (2013). Maternal mortality and female literacy rates in developing countries during 1970-2000: A latent growth curve analysis. International Journal of Population Research, 2013,

    Wei, F. H. & Pillai, V. K. (2013). Environmental quality and reproductive health in developing countries, International Journal of Sustainable Society, 5 (2), 146-159. This article was publicized through a science blog by Freelance science writer David Biadley, URL:

    Pillai, V. K. & Wei, F.H. (2012). Reproductive rights, gender equality and reproductive health in developing countries, Social Work Footprints, 11 (9), 39-42.

    Sharma, Y., & Pillai, V. (2012). Tuberculosis and utilization of health care facilities by the Lepchas of Sikkim. Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, 28(1), 49-55.

    Sharma, Y. (2011). An analysis of the medical termination of pregnancy act of 1971: The case of India. Social Development Issues, 33 (3), 40-53.

    Domestic Violence

    Sharma, Y. & Pillai, V. (2016). Social support and intimate partner violence among women with HIV. Journal of Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 18 (1). 52-66.  

    Children and Adolescents

    Pillai, V., & Sharma, Y. (2013). Child fosterage among Zambian families. Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 8 (4).  DOI:10.1080/17450128.2013.774454.

    Elias-Lambert, N., Black, B.,& Sharma,Y. (2010). Middle school youth: Satisfaction with and responses to a dating violence and sexual assault prevention program. Journal of School Violence, 9(2), 136-153.

    Immigration and Acculturation

    Kim, Y. M., Newhill, C., & Lopez, F. (2013). Latino acculturation and perceived educational achievement: Evidence for a bidimensional model of acculturation among Mexican-American children, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 23(01), 37-52.

    Disasters, Disaster Recovery, Haiti, and the Role of Media

    Svistova, J. and Pyles, L. (2018). Production of disaster and recovery in post-earthquake Haiti: Disaster industrial complex. Routledge Humanitarian Studies Series.

    Pyles, L., Svistova, J., and Ahn, S. (2017). Securitization, racial cleansing, and disaster capitalism: Neoliberal disaster governance in the U.S. Gulf Coast and Haiti. Critical Social Policy, 37(3), 1-22;

    Pyles, L., Svistova, J., Ahn, S. & Bikland, T. (2017). Citizen participation in disaster recovery projects and programmes in rural communities: A comparison of the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina. Disasters, 42(3), 498-518.

    Pyles, L. and Svistova, J. (2015). The critical-emancipatory traditions of participatory action research in post-disaster recovery, Chapter 5 in Lawson, Caringi, Pyles, Jurkowski & Bozlak (Eds.) Participatory Action Research, pp.119-147. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

    Pyles, L. and Svistova, J. (2015). A critical discourse analysis of Haiti Earthquake recovery in New York Times articles: Implications for social welfare policies, practices and education. Critical Social Work, 16 (1).

    Svistova, J., Pyles, L., and Andre, J. (2014). The meaning and possibilities of participation in research in Haiti: A case of counter-hegemonic resistance. Social Development Issues Journal, 36 (3), 108-123.

  • Related Courses

    FYS 100 First Year Seminar "Global Social Problems and Social Change"
    Independent Study and Service Learning Opportunities