Inaugural Blog by ASPIRE's PIs
by: Dr. Nabila El-Bassel & Dr. Neeraj Kaushal

Welcome to ASPIRE’s inaugural blog post! Our blog will provide regular insights and updates from project staff on our work on refugee issues in the Middle East. Be on the lookout for posts to come.

 Some of ASPIRE’s NYC consortium members during our first Consortium meeting in June 2016.

Some of ASPIRE’s NYC consortium members during our first Consortium meeting in June 2016.

For those of you new to ASPIRE (Advancing Solutions in Policy Implementation, Research and Engagement for Refugees), ASPIRE began with the acute need for a multifaceted approach to addressing the challenges facing refugees. ASPIRE represents a multidisciplinary consortium of faculty from a number of professional schools at Columbia University, such as social work, sociology, public health, medicine, education, nursing, and international affairs. We are the principal investigators of ASPIRE and have the passion, expertise, and commitment necessary to contribute constructively to the global dialogue around the challenges confronting refugees. 

 Drs. El-Bassel and Kaushal discuss research gaps during an ASPIRE visit to Amman in August 2016.

Drs. El-Bassel and Kaushal discuss research gaps during an ASPIRE visit to Amman in August 2016.

We collaborate with partners in Jordan and Turkey to provide a multidisciplinary evidence-based and scientific approach to addressing the needs of refugees. Across the consortium, our substantive focus areas include employment, education, health, and mental health services. Our aim is to address these areas through rigorous research, evidence-based interventions, and training partners.

In addition to the independent research of our consortium members, ASPIRE has a multi-country team of experts engaged in research and training. We work in direct partnership with Columbia University Global Centers in Amman and Istanbul, as well as with faculty and students from universities in Jordan and Turkey, NGOs and government agencies. We have designed informative research studies together with each ASPIRE country-team. Integral to ASPIRE’s success are our in-country partners who have diligently worked with us to develop a comprehensive research agenda and activities, interventions, and educational opportunities for faculty, trainees, and staff in the areas of health, mental health, education, employment, and policy. 

 Drs. Abu-Hassan, Dasgputa, and Khadra with medical students from the University of Jordan in Amman after a training on ethical conduct of research in January 2017.

Drs. Abu-Hassan, Dasgputa, and Khadra with medical students from the University of Jordan in Amman after a training on ethical conduct of research in January 2017.

We are excited about our upcoming study, Women ASPIRE, on health care access among Syrian refugee women. Working with our research team in Jordan headed by study co-PI Dr. Maysa’ Khadra, we are embarking on a study that is designed to understand the gendered health and mental health needs of female refugees living in urban settings, as well as their social network who are not accessing health care services. The findings of this study will inform a women-specific intervention and policy strategies. Data collection is expected to begin in late 2017.

 Dr. Kaushal and Ms. Morris in Za’atari camp in Jordan in August 2016.

Dr. Kaushal and Ms. Morris in Za’atari camp in Jordan in August 2016.

ASPIRE aims to support the rapidly evolving field of refugee response in the Middle East and we are eager to see our work grow and thrive. We hope that ASPIRE’s collaborations stimulate other partnerships in the region. There are a variety of ways to stay engaged with ASPIRE:

 

  • Blogs
    • We will regularly update blog postings on our website and on our Twitter account. Be on the lookout for our next post from:
      • Adam Brooks – ASPIRE graduate research assistant 
  • Events
    • We will host and support a number of community events. Upcoming events include:
      • October 2nd – Tripodi Lecture with Liz Pender, where Drs. Nabila El-Bassel and Anindita Dasgupta will also be presenting
      • November 22nd – Dr. Jeremy Sugarman’s webinar on Ethics in the Design and Conduct of Social and Behavioral Research
  • Listserve

Thank you for visiting our blog and website; we look forward to connecting with you again!
 

 
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Nabila El-Bassel
PhD, School of Social Work (PI)
 

Professor, The Willma and Albert Musher Professor of Social Work, Columbia School of Social Work
Director, Social Intervention Group
Director, Global Health Research Center of Central Asia

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Neeraj Kaushal
PhD, School of Social Work (PI) 
 

Professor of Social Policy, Columbia School of Social Work
Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research