2016 Wisconsin Without Borders Awards honor eight outstanding projects

This story was first published on the Morgridge Center for Community Service  website site.Eight UW-Madison projects are being honored for their community-engaged focus on global malnutrition, waterborne illness, Wisconsin Native public health, Latina women’s mental health and more. Three of the winners, Marjorie Kersten, Theo Loo and Andrew Denu are global health students.

The 2016 Wisconsin Without Borders Awards honor the work of students, faculty, staff and community partners that demonstrates excellence in collaboration between the university and local and global communities. Winners this year represent efforts spanning seven countries. Each award carries a cash prize of up to $1,500.

Wisconsin Without Borders, a campus-wide alliance, selected winners in four different categories, including the brand new 4W Award. Winners will be honored at a campus ceremony on Thursday, April 21 from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Wisconsin Idea Room at the Education Building. The ceremony is open to the entire campus and community.

Wisconsin Without Borders (WWB) is a UW-Madison alliance and award program that recognizes globally-engaged interdisciplinary scholarship and fosters excellence by networking through joint learning activities. WWB draws on the history and values of the Wisconsin Idea and the many remarkable partnerships that UW-Madison faculty members and students have initiated, both in Wisconsin and around the world.

WWB is a partnership between the Morgridge Center for Public Service, the Global Health Institute and the International Division.

4W Award

Expanding Entomophagy: Investigating Potential Mealworm and Cricket Consumption, Zambia

 Marjorie Kersten, undergraduate, Community and Environmental Sociology and Global Health

Community Partner: Mission to Improve Global Health Through Insects (MIGHTi)

Insect micro-livestock farming has the potential to be a direct solution to malnutrition, food insecurity, poverty, and economic inequality disproportionately faced by Zambian women. Part of the research conducted worked to address quality of life issues for women by providing baseline data to community partners that would allow them to more successfully develop and implement insect micro-livestock farmers in collaboration with women’s cooperatives in Zambia.

Peter Bosscher Award (Individual)

Muddied Waters: Water Security Management in Mmangweni Village, South Africa

Recipient: Theo Loo, undergraduate, Microbiology and Global Health

Community Partner:  Indwe Trust NPC

Currently, 40% of South Africa’s population lives in rural areas with little access to clean water, leading to illness and disease. This project was designed with the goal of reducing the prevalence of waterborne diseases in Kumanzimdaka, South Africa. The project conducted water testing and water sterilization workshops, established a community dialogue, and mapped houses, community centers, livestock feeding pastures and latrines. The project has produced a recommendation for physical water source protection strategies in Kumanzimdaka and has the potential to lay the groundwork for a systematic approach to reducing waterborne diseases across rural South Africa.

Peter Bosscher Award (Group)

Village Health Project (VHP), Uganda

Recipients: James Ntambi (faculty, Biochemistry), Andrew Denu, (undergraduate, Biology and Global Health) Mackenzie Carlson (undergraduate, Gender & Women’s Studies) and Corinne Praska (undergraduate, Genetics)

Community Partner: Village Health Project-Uganda

VHP-Uganda, founded more than 15 years ago, is a community-based organization (CBO) that supports multiple ongoing efforts in Lweza, Uganda. VHP-Uganda has given UW-Madison students, faculty and staff a local CBO that is able to engage and mobilize people in the community around issues identified by community members. Through the program (and now another one that focuses on mobile clinics) students are offered opportunities to work alongside community members in addressing some of the most critical needs as identified by the community in areas such as livestock, agriculture, micro-enterprise development.

Recognition in Community Based Research

Women and One Health: Empowerment of Women in Rural Agriculture, Ghana

Recipient: Sophia Friedson-Ridenour, 4W postdoctoral research associate, Center for Research on Gender and Women

Community Partner: 
Women farmers and women’s farmer organizations in Northern Ghana

Funded by a UW-Madison Global Health Institute Seed Grant, this research explores the empowerment and wellbeing of women in agriculture in Northern Ghana. Inspired by the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), the study uses a community-based qualitative research methodology to accomplish two goals: 1) Explore the sense women make of the domains being used to measure their empowerment. 2) Expand the areas being used to measure the empowerment of women in agriculture to encompass greater measures of wellbeing such as woman’s aspirations, capabilities, and her sense of self-efficacy, dimensions of agency and hence empowerment that the WEAI does not currently attend to.

Honorable Mention in Community Based Research

Venga y Relájese! A Pilot Stress Reduction Curriculum for Latina Women, Wisconsin and Peru

Recipient: Elizabeth Abbs, medical student, School of Medicine and Public Health

Community Partner:
 Aurora Walker’s Point Community Center, Milwaukee, WI; Colegio Pitagoras, Lima, Peru

Stress can negatively affect the human body, increasing risk for depression, anxiety, insomnia, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems. Women living in poverty, especially those with a migration history, often live in a state of chronic stress compounded by various social, economic, and environmental factors. As a Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH) project, ¡Venga y Relájese! (Come! and Relax!) was designed to provide a sustainable introduction to meditation, meaningful social interactions and self-compassion to the women of Aurora’s Walker’s Point Community Clinic, in Milwaukee. The program is currently in the process of expanding to Lima, Peru.

Excellence in Service Learning (Group)

Traditions in Health, Wisconsin

Recipients: Melissa Metoxen, Dr. Jacquelynn Arbuckle, Dr. Christine Athmann, Lauren Cornelius, Lina Martin, Tim Frandy, staff and faculty, School of Medicine and Public Health

Community Partner: 
Oneida Nation and Lac du Flambeau tribal communities

Traditions of Health offers a holistic intervention to promote healthy lifestyles in Native American communities through the learning of traditional knowledge and through relationship building between Native students at UW-Madison and Wisconsin’s tribal communities. Cultural-based interventions have been shown to have extraordinary results, particularly in Native American communities. This program involves traditional foodways, the healthy lifeways associated with their cultivation and harvest and the experiential learning of traditional Native food-culture in Wisconsin’s Native communities.

Excellence in Service Learning (Individual)

Conservation and Sustainable Development Service-Learning in rural Ecuador

Recipient: Catherine Woodward, faculty associate, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Community Partner:
 Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation

The goal of involving students in this community-based research project in Ecuador is two-fold: First, to guide students in developing cultural competencies as they apply their college education and language skills in sociocultural contexts that are novel to them; and second, to facilitate a beneficial exchange of knowledge between US students and rural Ecuadorians that helps address economic and environmental challenges that are global in scope. The impact of this involvement includes a greater awareness from both students and local people of the importance of stewardship of water resources and increased capacity within the community to address water quality problems. More than 30 students have been involved in this work.

Recognition in Service Learning (Individual)

Multicultural Theatre for Rural Schools, Wisconsin

Recipient: Manon van de Water, professor, Slavic Languages

Community Partner: 
Taliesin Preserve and Rural School Districts

This project offers a quality multicultural theatre program to underprivileged rural schools in partnership with the Taliesin Preserve. The project was an extension of the annual Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) production that has been part of the regular season of the Department of Theatre and Drama’s University Theatre. This project successfully brings together a number of constituencies, forges connections between the rural community and the University, between graduate students, undergraduate students, and school-age students and between the arts and education.

By Mark Bennett/ April 12, 2016.