CFDE Featured Faculty Member: Karen Andes

Karen Andes’s engagement over the years with the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence has informed her two main areas of research – adolescent sexual and reproductive health and community-engaged fieldwork in Paraguay – as well as her teaching in qualitative methods and data analysis.

An assistant professor in the Rollins School of Public Health’s Hubert Department of Global Health and Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Andes has followed a trajectory that included an engaged learning fellowship, a classroom mini-grant, a University Course, Pre-Texts and teaching portfolio workshops, and an online teaching course to guide her work as a scholar and teacher.

Much of Andes’s teaching has been shaped by community engagement, beginning with a fellowship in engaged learning (in the Center for Community Partnerships in 2011-12, before the program became part of the CFDE in 2015). This fellowship, she says, “actually gave me time to focus on thinking about how to do community-based learning based in the literature and being really able to think about how people reflect on doing this nationally.” She received a CFDE mini-grant for community engagement, which she used in the Spring 2016 semester to pay for transcriptions of three focus group discussions that students conducted with for the course.

Also in spring 2016, Andes participated in two Pre-Texts workshops, led by the CFDE’s director of engaged learning, Vialla Hartfield-Mendez, which deepened Andes’s understanding of how the arts can help students integrate new knowledge and concepts, even those not art related. The workshops also encouraged her to think more broadly about incorporating creative projects in the classroom. She intends to apply some of this new knowledge in her Spring 2017 class, “Community Based Participatory Action Research,” when students will create digital stories as part of their experiential learning on the importance of narrative.

Additionally, Andes participated in a CFDE Academic Learning Community on Emory’s work with Hispanic/Latino populations in Fall 2012, and in spring 2015, she co-convened (along with Robert Breiman, Director of the Emory Global Health Institute) a University Course titled “Urbanization and Inequities: Pathways for Slums in the 21st Century.”

Andes says that in Paraguay, she has practiced the community engagement principles she honed through the Engaged Learning Program. She has taken 17 graduate students to the South American country for various summer opportunities. The students range from public health students to theology, business, nursing, and medicine. Andes and the students work with a local community-based organization called Mil Soldiarios, or A Thousand Partners, which works to integrate economically disadvantaged teenagers into the educational system by providing them with small scholarships. Through this project, eight of Andes’s students have published articles in Spanish in the Paraguayan national public health magazine. “Not not only have we been doing this work in the field,” she says, “but we were able to disseminate that research back to local professionals in Spanish.”  

Andes also participated in a CFDE teaching portfolio workshop and is currently completing the Emory Faculty Online Training course through the CFDE. Through these experiences, she says, “I’ve developed a community of scholars who are all thinking about the same kinds of things, and I know who else might be thinking about stuff that I want to integrate into the classroom. We can share ideas.”

Even in the online teaching course (which itself is online), she says, “even though I don’t necessarily see the faces of the participants, we’ve been interacting around the same kinds of things every week, which has been really interesting and really fun learning from other colleagues.”

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