Feb 2– Practice Job Talk

Please join us on Thursday, February 2nd from 4:30-6:00 pm in RO 329 for a mock job talk from postdoctoral scholar Basia Ellis, titled “A Cultural Psychology for Changing Immigration Contexts”. The talk will be tailored towards an interdisciplinary audience, and aim to communicate Basia’s research goals of developing a sociocultural psychology of migration that will help explain the experiences of precarious migrant groups in the United States and beyond. Light refreshments will be served.



January 5- Teaching Demonstration

On January 5 from 4:30-5:30, Xu Qin will share her teaching demonstration titled “An Introduction to Causal Mediation Analysis”.

The lecture is designed to help students gain a conceptual understanding of how to define and identify causal effects in mediation studies. Many important research questions in education relate to how interventions work. Mediation analysis provides valuable information about the underlying mechanism through which the intervention generates a causal effect on the outcome. Traditionally in social sciences, mediation analysis has been formulated within the framework of linear structural equation models. However, this line of research has been challenged, due to the lack of a general definition of causal mediation effects, the void of a clarification of key identification assumptions, and the reliance on correct functional or distributional forms. In the past two decades, counterfactual thinking has given causal mediation analysis a sound theoretical basis. Under the counterfactual causal framework, I will demonstrate the definitions of “indirect effect” that channels the intervention impact through the mediator and “direct effect” that works through other unspecified mechanisms. The definitions involve potential outcomes and potential mediators associated with counterfactual treatment conditions. A major challenge in causal inference is that these quantities are unobserved. I will then clarify the identification assumptions, under which the unobservable quantities can be related to the observed data. This will allow us to provide the mediation effects with a causal interpretation and make valid inferences about the causal mediation effects as defined.

November 29- Research Project Development

On November 29 from 4:30-6:00, Gabe Velez will present his work titled “Peace, Citizenship, and Urban Ecology: Adolescent Meaning-Making of Peace in Bogotá, Colombia”. This workshop will focus on the early-stage, theoretical development of a research paper using raw interview data conducted in Bogotá, Colombia.

For many conflict-ridden countries, peace is invoked as a primary objective of the government and civil society.  As a concept it is tied to development, stability, democracy, and citizenship (Brewer, 2010; Lederach, 1997).  Peace has proliferated in these settings as part of civic discourse and societal  hopes of the future.  While this discourse permeates many aspects of peacebuilding, this focus on a more harmonious future leads to a particular need to promote peace in youth.  Though often overlooked by economic and political elite, these younger generations have the power to shape the trajectory of the larger society through their beliefs and actions (see Del Felice & Wisler, 2007; Gallagher, 2004; McEvoy, 2000; McEvoy-Levy, 2006).  Furthermore, as part of psychological development, adolescents increasingly interact and internalize broader contexts of their society in forming their own identities and ideologies (Erikson, 1968).  These underlying identity processes integrate individual level factors with contextual experiences (Bronfrenbrenner, 1992; Spencer, Dupree, & Hartmann, 1997), resulting in outcomes that can promote stability and democratic stability or to create greater challenges for peacebuilding.

The current study investigates how Colombian adolescents form ideas about citizenship and peace in relation to their experiences of social environments.  The study focuses on youth in Colombia because the country is in the midst of a peace process to end over five decades of internal warfare, and so the situation offers a unique opportunity to explore how these adolescents are interpreting the transitions occurring at the national level.  To investigate this relationship, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 80 youth from 15 different sites across the city, with all participants also completing a standardized survey on perceptions of community environment and trust.  The interviews explored how these youth in Bogota construct concepts of peace and citizenship, while the surveys were used to analyze the emergent qualitative themes in relation to participants’ perceptions of their community and their feelings of security.

November 1: Conference Presentation Practice

On November 1 in RO 329 from 4:30-5:30, Sharon Seegers will present her work titled “Finding Interpreters That Can ‘Open Their Minds’: How Deaf Community Leaders Select Sign Language Interpreters in Hà Nội, Việt Nam”.

Sign language interpreters frequently work in contexts shaped by multiple and often competing language ideologies. While the field of interpreting studies has examined role(s) of interpreters in diverse contexts (Roy 1993; Swabey and Mickelson 2008), to date there has been little empirical work on how language ideologies affect the way interpreters are selected and trained. Drawing on a two month long ethnographic study of a community-run center for teaching sign language in Hanoi, Vietnam, this paper explores how language ideologies shape the stakes of interpreting, the positionality of interpreters, and the criteria Deaf community leaders use to screen potential interpreting students.

The majority of Hanoi Sign Language (HNSL) students at the center grew up in hearing families, and were only exposed to Deaf community perspectives on sign language when they entered the sign language training program. Thus, the Deaf community leaders’ criteria for selecting interpreters focus on finding interpreters who can “open their minds” disorienting themselves from hearing ideologies and reorienting toward Deaf cultural norms. This paper explores how reorientation is indexed by interpreting student’s usage of facial expression and a willingness to engage with Deaf people. Facial expression thus becomes the embodiment of learning and occupying a positive language ideology.

The stakes of language ideologies and their impact on interpreting are high: like many countries, Vietnam has multiple and often competing ideologies surrounding the use of sign language. While educators in Vietnam’s oral schools often view sign language as “backwards” and Deaf people as “stupid,” Deaf community leaders work to position sign language as central to Deaf culture and as the best language for including Deaf people in society (Cooper 2011; Cooper 2014). HNSL interpreters are frequently called upon to mediate the very where such ideologies are invoked, contested and (re)constructed, unavoidably positioning them between these competing ideologies.

November 1: Dissertation Proposal Development

In the first half, Sanja Miklin will share her work titled, “Suicidal Ideation: An Investigation in Three Parts”.

In the second half, Alexis Howard will present her work titled, “How Paradoxical is the Latino Paradox? A Life Course Approach toward Differentials in Health in the Elderly Latino Cohort of the United States“. 

Both hope to gain feedback not only about the content of their work, but also about the process of proposal development. Each of these selections are less then 5 pages, and will hopefully be developed in to full dissertation proposals.

The selections Sanja and Alexis will share can be found on the “Workshop Resources” page. Please email Alexis Howard (alhoward@uchicago.edu) for assistance if needed.

Fall 2016 Schedule

All meetings held from 4:30 to 6:00 in RO 329. Light refreshments served. Calendar will be updated periodically.

October 18— Brainstorming Session: How can we make this a productive and engaging space? Food will be served!

November 1— Sanja Miklin and Alexis Howard. Format: Dissertation Proposal Development.

THURSDAY, November 10— Sharon Seegers. Title TBD. Format: Conference Presentation practice.

November 29— Gabe Velez. Title TBD. Format: Data Analysis.