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Transportable Psychology New Ways to Fund International Research
by Amena Hassan, APA Office of International Affairs
One of the comments frequently heard in discussions about international exchange for psychologists is how difficult it is to find funding. Although the source of funds may be less visible than ones for domestic research and scholarship, there is definitely opportunity. The first step toward accessing those opportunities is locating the array of programs from fellowships to research grants that span many sub-disciplines. Some of these may open up unplanned prospects and although it may be sometimes more comfortable to stay close to a specific career path, approaching international work with a measure of flexibility can often lead off in valuable directions.
There are several places to begin. One within APA is FundSource put together by the Decade of Behavior. FundSource is a database that links to funding information specific to behavioral and social sciences research. The database includes descriptions and links to programs that fund behavioral and social science research in federal agencies, foundations, and international organizations. It includes both a database search and a list-search in addition to links to other resources and tips about how to apply for grants. It is available for free at www.decadeofbehavior.org/fundsource. Other links of interest are scientific grants and funding at www.apa.org/science/funding.html and announcements of grants and awards from the Association for Psychological Science at www.psychologicalscience.org/awards.
Another useful source is the U.S. National Committee for the International Union for Psychological Science (USNC-IUPsyS), a committee housed at the National Research Council at the National Academies of Science. It provides information on international resources for psychology at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Visit www7.nationalacademies.org/usnc-iupsys/USNC_IUPsyS_Links.html for further details.
An excellent source for research and training grants, international services, regional activities and other collaborations is the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health. Three programs that should be of particular interest to psychologists are the Brain Disorders in the Developing World program (to develop collaborative research and capacity building projects on brain disorders relevant to low and middle-income nations), the International Tobacco and Health Research and Capacity Building Program (which supports building capacity in behavioral research in low and/or middle-income nations), and the Stigma and Global Health Research Program (to stimulate interdisciplinary research on the role of stigma in health). All of these can be found on the Fogarty funding page at www.fic.nih.gov/programs/research_grants/index.htm.
APA contacted Dr. Xingzhu Liu and Dr. Kathleen Michels, of the Fogarty International Center, about these programs and other international research collaboration opportunities. “Our programs are open to all areas to do with the nervous system and the fields of psychology or mental health,” explained Dr. Michels. “The Brain Disorders and Developing World program is now in its fifth year and right now, for example, we have psychologists studying learning disabilities in Zambia. Some projects are even more oriented towards psychology or neuroscience research. Our focus, according to the World Bank criteria, is on low and middle income countries.”
Fogarty also has research programs open to young scientists who are interested in extended research in developing countries. One example is the Scholars Program, open to MD and PhD level scientists who want to spend their time on specific sites chosen from low and middle income countries. The scholars can also be matched to various sites across the globe—usually U.S. based scientists who paired with scientists from lower income nations. Applicants should also look into the Fogarty International Research Collaboration Award (FIRCA) program. It is an ongoing program (applications 3 times a year) and according to Fogarty, provides some of the best current opportunities for international psychologists (http://www.fic.nih.gov/programs/research_grants/firca/index.htm).
Although not open for competition this year, the Stigma and Global Health Research program provides funding to sociologists and psychologists with the purpose of stimulating interdisciplinary research on the role of stigma in health. Its objectives also include researching interventions in order to prevent the negative consequences of stigma not only on behavioral health but the overall welfare of individuals, groups and societies world-wide. “There are disorders that have cheap, clear treatments but the stigma and lack of health care has created obstacles,” stated Michels. “At the end of the day you can do all the research you want but how you apply that to interventions and research on the ground and then sustain them is something we grapple with everyday.”
With awardees conducting international studies on subjects such as tuberculosis in Haiti, alcohol abuse or suicide in China, the mental health of children in Turkey, AIDS in India and Africa, or a cross-national perspective of mental illness, Dr. Xingzhu Liu also mentioned that in addition to the larger focus of capacity building, Fogarty collaborates with and supports research conducted by institutes and NGOs. The challenge, however, lies in translating research into different forms of implementation faster and over a longer period of time.
The U.S. Department of State through its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) coordinates international scholar exchanges such as the Fulbright Program and also opportunities to visit from abroad to sample the kind of programs that are available within the United States. Karen Chen, PhD, Planning Officer for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor explained how the Fulbright can be an opportunity to learn an immense amount about a country in a short period of time. “With the Fulbright there is a one year term abroad for scholars. The program varies in the type of work scholars do and what level they are in their career or academic experience,” said Chen. “Some people can do a Fulbright straight from their undergraduate studies or they can go abroad after having a higher degree and a tenured work career. And of course, the Fulbright goes both ways (Americans going overseas or foreigners coming into the United States).”
Other programs at the State Department include opportunities to take classes at a foreign university that builds on professional expertise or an chance to do research in order to gather data and understand or study a particular issue in another country. “ECA also develops the International Visitor’s programs where the bureau identifies individuals who are able to come to the U.S. for one to three weeks,” stated Chen. “They then tour several cities to meet with experts in their field to talk about whatever range of issues within their focus. For example, if a country is trying to develop a judicial system then judges might visit and meet with other judges or lawyers. We also do an exchange where we bring Americans overseas to get a newer perspective on certain types of work we don’t do here in United States.”
You can view more links to funding resources at http://www.apa.org/international/funding.html. If you learn of additional sources of funding please send information about them for posting on the funding list to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ψ
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