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Kirby Receives Fulbright Fellowship

Graduate Student Caitlin Kirby recently received a 2019 Fulbright Fellowship. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide.

Kirby plans to use this award to conduct urban agriculture research in Germany.

“My dissertation focuses on environmental decision making in cross cultural spaces, so engaging in international research is sort of a logical piece of that.”

Through this project, Kirby will expand on previous research done in South America and the US Mid-West. She noted, “Finding this third location that has things in common with both places is going to be helpful in having my results be more robust with this other point of comparison.” 

Kirby defines urban agriculture to include home gardening, community gardening and for-profit farms within an urban setting. Her research looks at the motivations to engage in this activity, the barriers people must overcome to do so and the benefits people receive. One group of particular interest is the immigrant and refugee communities.

“Urban Agriculture tends to be really important to them because often times it can provide a connection to where they come from and then often times, they also have lower food security.”

In expanding her research, Kirby says the she will be taking a different tack, “Before I did smaller sample sizes and interviews. Here it will be surveys of a larger population so that my results will be more generalizable. Also, it will be different because I will be in Germany with new mentors, so possibly they will have different ways of looking at things to add new bodies of literature or methods into how I conduct my research.”

Kirby’s mentors for this project are Dr. Kathrin Specht of the Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development in Dortmund, Germany and Dr. Rosemarie Siebert of the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research in Müncheberg, Germany. Kirby’s PhD advisor is EES’ Dr. Julie Libarkin, head of the MSU Geocognition Lab.

From its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which citizens and governments of other countries work with the U.S. to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs. The world has been transformed in ensuing decades, but the fundamental principle of international partnership remains at the core of the Fulbright mission. The program currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.   


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