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Wilson Faculty Fellows, 2016–2017

News Story

Each year the Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship funds four fellowships for Pace University faculty to grow our diverse portfolio of research projects with a focus on the identification and analysis of issues facing nonprofits and social enterprises. Here are this year's fellows.

The Helene and Grant Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship is pleased to announce the 2016–2017 Wilson Faculty Fellows. Each fellow will receive an award of $5,000 to work on a research project that advances the identification and analysis of immediate issues facing nonprofits and social enterprises. Fellows are required to engage current Pace students in their research. The 2016–2017 Wilson Center Faculty Fellows are:

>> Emily Bent, Assistant Professor Women’s and Gender Studies, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

>> Kimberly Collica-Cox, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Security, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

>> Susanne O’Callaghan, Professor of Accounting, Lubin School of Business

>> Christelle Scharff, Associate Professor and Chair of Computer Sciences, Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems

Professor Bent’s case study will analyze how Pace students enrolled in a high-impact experiential learning course at the United Nations respond to the learning experience over the course of a semester. With the support of student research assistants, Professor Bent will thematically code student journals as well as conduct research on engaged feminist pedagogy, NGO activism, and social justice theory. The data gathered will provide additional background and thematic framing to the project. Research suggests students involved in such courses experience increased student learning, improved interpersonal skills, professional/vocational development, and enhanced global awareness. As a case study for student engagement, Professor Bent’s study seeks to identify the challenges, successes, and ambivalences encountered throughout the term.

Professor Collica-Cox’s research focuses on addressing the critical void in rehabilitative initiatives available to female inmates and their children. Her research will evaluate an evidence-based parenting program for prisoners, with student teaching assistants, that will ultimately employ the use of animal assisted therapy (AAT). With the support of the nonprofit Good Dog Foundation and a student research assistant, Professor Collica-Cox’s study will assess the outcomes of the program. Her assessment will determine the program’s ability to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and maladaptive behavior among class participants, while also increasing participant’s levels of self-esteem, contact/involvement with their children, and their confidence in parenting skills. This study will establish a baseline to examine the utilization of dogs within a classroom setting to enhance retention and engagement to maximize the learning process for female inmates. 

Professor O’Callaghan’s study will research a sample of food pantries throughout the five boroughs. With support of her student researchers they will conduct interviews and analyze food acquisition and distribution programs used to meet the food/supply needs of nonprofit recipients. This research will identify and analyze the many issues facing nonprofits that serve an important societal role providing food pantries as part of their programing mission. This research will also highlight ideas for future funding of such programs. Professor O’Callaghan’s research outcomes will inform about efforts meeting hunger needs in our country and how they are being meet in the New York City area. It will also allow students to better understand how the need for improved financial reporting can assist and enhance these efforts while providing them with an opportunity to gain an appreciation of how nonprofits serve a valuable societal role and the critical issues they face in continuing their missions.

Professor Scharff’s research efforts take a multidisciplinary approach to address the issues of low mobile device literacy and usage of locally developed apps in developing countries. The overall usage of mobile apps and services remains low in developing markets; the gap is even wider for locally developed ones. Reasons include low literacy, low mobile device literacy, misalignment between apps and users’ needs, and inadequate access and infrastructure. Professor Scharff is proposing the creation of AppDock, a physical space working seamlessly with its digital counterpart to improve mobile device literacy and increase interaction between users and developers in developing countries. When visiting AppDock, users can charge their phones and access WiFi in a safe, user-friendly space, while also getting exposure to locally developed apps, watching video tutorials on apps and phones, providing feedback to developers, and attending workshops. AppDock units can be customized for different countries. Professor Scharff is working with a team of Computer Science student researchers from Pace University and partnering with architecture researchers at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) and a tech hub to design, build, and test AppDock in Senegal. Through her findings, Professor Scharff’s research can evaluate the social impact and relevance that AppDock has on local communities and highlight the importance of promoting widespread mobile device literacy and the work of social entrepreneurs.