ASU professor receives funding to pursue international research project

June 1, 2017

International funding has allowed Jonathan Pettigrew to travel to Cardiff University, DECIPHer unit, in Wales, United Kingdom to develop a collaboration on an international project to create a theoretical model and joint grant proposal on health interventions.

Pettigrew, an assistant professor in Arizona State University's Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, and co-collaborator Jeremy Segrott, Cardiff University, received Cardiff University’s International Collaboration Seedcorn funding for summer research.  Dr. Jeremy Segrott and Dr. Jonathan Pettigrew at Cardiff University Dr. Jeremy Segrott (left), Cardiff University, and Jonathan Pettigrew (right), assistant professor in ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication pictured at Cardiff University. Download Full Image

Pettigrew and Segrott are exploring the possibilities of an international collaboration project that would allow Cardiff University doctoral students to travel to ASU for a short-term project, allow some ASU doctoral students to travel to Cardiff and establish funding for Segrott to visit ASU in the future.

Pettigrew became acquainted with DECIPHer researcher Segrott through involvement in the Society for Prevention Research and the European Society for Prevention Research .

They shared the same process evaluations of health interventions; they approached the same topics, but had different training experiences; and they considered different theories and applied different methodologies.

They worked in different contexts, countries and continents.

“Our diverse perspectives enabled us to converge on the topics from different angles and soon realized the potential benefits of working together,” said Pettigrew, when asked about the importance of bringing international scholars to ASU to promote global health.

Current and previous health intervention models use linear, unidirectional thinking according to Pettigrew.

The health intervention model Pettigrew and Segrott are developing is to push thinking toward considering complex systems.

“Specifically, we are drawing attention to the fact that individuals actively interpret intervention messages and also interface with their social networks (e.g., to discuss, modify, ignore, eschew, etc.) intervention messages,” Pettigrew said.

When asked how their theoretical model would benefit international scholars of global health, Pettigrew suggested that some interventions work but that the mechanisms to make them work depend on inputs from other domains of life.

Pettigrew cited one example of a school intervention for kids to advocate healthy eating depends on families buying healthy foods, cooking meals, etc. He said there are a lot of processes that the intervention depends on to make it work and not many of them are things that happen at school.

Pettigrew and Segrott are calling this an "invisible logic model" where the way the intervention works is a bit of a mystery.

“Our model theorizes that interactions between domains of life (e.g., family and school; work and neighborhood, etc.) should be considered. We detail potential processes in these social interfaces that bear on intervention effectiveness,” Pettigrew explained.

“A critical need in the development of global behavioral health promotion is understanding of how specific contexts influence and are influenced by interventions,” Pettigrew said. “Particularly salient is the need to identify and specify intervention systems and to query aspects of these systems that are interdependent with contexts and those that likely transcend contexts.”

Though still in the preliminary stages of development, the joint grant proposal Pettigrew and Segrott are drafting would focus on building prevention systems to promote global health.

Pettigrew is not a novice at receiving grants for international research projects. He previously won a total of $1 million dollars to develop a culturally adapted anti-drug program with a violence prevention aspect for middle school youth in Nicaragua. His program was named a “model program” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


It's personal: ASU alumnus, scholar working to make UK immigration fair

June 1, 2017

Arizona State University alumnus Thom Brooks has garnered international acclaim for his work on ethics, public policy, law and politics. As an award-winning author, broadcaster and columnist, he focuses his research on immigration rights from firsthand experience.

“I want to improve the British immigration system; make it not only fit for purpose, but show the importance of allowing immigrant voices into shaping how the system works,” he said. “It’s easy to say as immigrants that we’ve come to the scene late. There’s lots of barriers to our voices being heard. There’s lots of excuses to not try, but waiting for someone else to do it is waiting for something to never happen.” ASU alumnus Thom Brooks Arizona State University alumnus Thom Brooks was invited back to campus to speak about citizen testing and the future of immigration procedures as part of the School of Politics and Global Studies Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series. Download Full Image

Brooks originally studied music and political science as an undergraduate in his home state of Connecticut. He decided to pursue a master’s degree in political science at ASU because of the university’s faculty and research focused on South Asian studies and political theory as well as a pleasant change of weather from his native Connecticut. Though he’d never visited Arizona before, Brooks said the university’s interesting research into those topics was what made ASU the best option for him. 

After completing his doctorate in political science at the University of Sheffield, Brooks taught political and legal thought at Newcastle University. In 2012, he moved to the Durham University Law School, where he has served as the dean since 2016. As dean, he said a major goal of his is to expand Durham’s budding law school to be internationally on par in terms of size with other universities. Toward this goal, he works to attract world-class faculty to the department.

Having been in the UK since initially starting graduate studies at the University of Sheffield in 2001, Brooks went through the British nationalization process in order to become a citizen of the UK. It was his experience taking the citizenship test that led him to write a critical report of it.

“The test I took: Many of the correct answers were factually untrue,” he said. “You’re asked questions about the number of members in parliament, but they didn’t even give the actual answer as a choice. Discovering there were these factual errors on this immigration test – getting it right meant you could have all the rights of citizenship and getting it wrong could mean deportation — struck me as alarming.”

Brooks said the extent of the test’s inaccuracy was widely unknown and much of the exam did not test for information necessary to being a British citizen. In fact, he said many British citizens couldn’t have passed the test. His report of citizenship testing has been mentioned frequently in the UK media. It’s also been cited in The House of Lords, garnering a recommendation for Brooks to lead a revision of the test.  

In addition to his academic work, Brooks is active in public engagement. He advises members of parliament and makes frequent media appearances on television. He also writes columns for many prominent newspapers in the UK such as Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times and Sunday Express among many others.

He said his broadly focused education at ASU gave him the knowledge base to go on to further study.

“It gave me a robust background in political science that I think digs deeper than many other programs,” he said. “I really did have to know about the different subfields of political science to earn my degree. It was important that we all knew things about quantitative research, the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences program and so on even if my particular [focus] was in political theory. At the time, things didn’t make as much sense to me as they did now. But now, looking back, it’s been enormously beneficial.”

Brooks was invited back to campus in April as part of the School of Politics and Global Studies Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series. He spoke about his work on the citizenship test and the future of immigration procedures. As this year’s distinguished alumnus, Brooks said he is very proud. 

“I feel incredibly honored and really touched to have this bestowed on me,” he said. “It’s the best honor I’ve had in my career. I’ve done a lot of good things, but this really stands out as something special.”

Parker Shea

Student Writer and Reporter, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences