Graduate_School

BROWN AND MUSKIE FELLOWS HEIGHTEN LEVEL OF DISCOURSE ON INTERNATIONAL TOPICS

Syracuse University has long supported the Fulbright program, bringing international scholars to campus to lecture or conduct postdoctoral research. In recent years, two newer programs have attracted talented students from Eastern Europe and former Soviet countries to the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
      With matching support from the Graduate School, the Ron Brown and Edmund S. Muskie/Freedom Support Act fellowships allow international scholars to pursue degrees and conduct research within Maxwell's Executive Education Program and Global Affairs Institute (GAI). "We have first-rate academic programs, strong administrative support, and internationally recognized external funding agencies interested in sending people here," says Peter Englot, assistant dean of the Graduate School. "It was easy to decide to provide support."
      The Ron Brown fellowships—named for the late U.S. secretary of commerce who died while promoting U.S. business interests in the Balkans—are given to students from Eastern and Central Europe, including Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republic of Yugoslavia. The Muskie fellowships, established by the U.S. Congress to encourage economic and democratic growth in countries of the former Soviet Union and the Baltic states, allow citizens of those countries to study a variety of fields in the United States, including economics, law, and public administration at Maxwell.
      Visiting scholars have two homes at Maxwell: one in their academic departments, and one at GAI, which integrates Maxwell's international research, training, service, and program activities, says Maria Bettua, assistant director of the institute and creator of its visitors program. "We provide logistical support for visitors, engage them in visiting scholar lectures, involve them in various symposia, and encourage them to align with one of our five research groups," she says. The groups—Identity and Nationalism in a Globalized World, the Global Political Economy Research Consortium, Governance in the Information Age, International Political Psychology, and Programs and Research on Latin America—offer an array of research possibilities.
      The master of arts in public administration, managed by the Executive Education Program, is a popular choice with international students, says Catherine Gerard, associate director of executive education. "The program is flexible so that students can design a master's degree to meet their professional needs," she says. That flexibility allows Ron Brown Fellow Mirjana Radic to concentrate on international development and human resources, areas that most interest her and apply directly to her counseling work in Bosnia, Croatia, and the Republic of Georgia. "I am a psychologist, but I've been working in complicated political situations, in administration and conflict resolution," she says. "This fellowship provides a great opportunity for me to bridge the gap between practical experience and theories in these areas."
                                                                                                                                            —GARY PALLASSINO



Human_Development

STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS STUDY LINK BETWEEN NUTRITION AND DEVELOPMENT IN PRESCHOOLERS

How does nutrition affect a preschooler's development? That's a question student researchers and faculty examined as part of a joint project of the departments of nutrition and hospitality management, and child and family studies (CFS).
      The project, headed by nutrition professor Kay Stearns Bruening G'80 and CFS professor Mellisa Clawson, monitored the diet quality and social interaction levels of 22 preschoolers from two Syracuse-area day care centers. "Our question was whether children with low-quality diets exhibited lower levels of play and cognitive functioning than children with quality diets," Clawson says.
      Preliminary findings suggest that preschoolers whose families experience food shortages engage in less complex play than peers from families that have food regularly available. The pilot study indicated that children who face food shortages spent more time engaged in play that required no social interaction with peers. In contrast, those children who have regular access to food participated in more competent kinds of play, Clawson says.
      Bruening initiated the project in fall 1998, when she decided to examine the potential link between diet and development in preschoolers. For the nutrition portion of the study, the preschoolers, who came from a range of economic backgrounds, were weighed and measured, and their sick days were tracked. Fifteen nutrition student researchers were trained to measure how much the children ate. They also contacted the preschoolers' families at night to determine each child's hunger level outside the classroom. "The students did the majority of the observations," Bruening says. "We spent an enormous amount of time training them so we could get research-quality data from their findings."
      After the nutrition study was completed, 12 CFS student researchers conducted individual and group studies to determine the children's social and cognitive levels. They observed such behaviors as how well individual children played with others and how sophisticated that play was, Clawson says.
      Corri Altman '00 compiled data and set up encoding systems to help the group analyze data and find links between the children's eating habits and behaviors. "When I was constructing the databases, I liked challenging myself to pull the various pieces of the puzzle together to create a bigger picture," Altman says.
      Bruening and Clawson plan to continue exploring the issue on a larger scale, and hope the study will prompt lawmakers to increase local funding for public assistance programs to ensure that children receive better nourishment at an early age. The findings also will allow them to make recommendations for children who are at risk of developmental problems due to improper nutrition. "Hopefully, our information will provide these children with optimal nutrition and improve their lives," Clawson says.
                                                                                                                        —DANIELLE K. JOHNSON



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