School of Education and Social Policy senior Subin Hwang will present her research examining the public health response to the refugee crisis in Germany during the next Big Ideas Forum on Feb. 8.
The program “Between Policy and Academia: Ethics of Research on Refugees and War” takes place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Dittmar Gallery inside Norris University Center.
Hwang, who conducted a seven-week case study at a Berlin hospital, observed outpatient medical clinics, interviewed clinic staff members and surveyed refugee patients to better understand how German health care teams were coping with the large influx of refugees.
Though still analyzing the data for her honors thesis, preliminary results suggest that rhetoric was an important factor in determining the type of care the refugees received. For example, doctors and caregivers had different definitions of the term “acute” when they labeled – and treated – the health conditions, she said.
“This matters since labeling something as "acute" ultimately determines the level of healthcare access,” said Hwang, whose research was supported by the Radulovacki Global Health Research Fellowship, offered through the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
A human development and psychological services major and chemistry minor, Hwang worked as a health care intern during the summer of 2015 for the non-profit International Rescue Committee (IRC) in San Francisco during her SESP practicum.
After helping refugees access health care and learning about both the large and nuanced the barriers they face, she wanted to explore how other countries were handling the health care of refugees.
“(My SESP practicum) was an experience that directly impacted my undergrad trajectory and interests,” she said.
After graduation, Hwang plans to work in healthcare consulting before applying to medical school, where she hopes to primarily work with marginalized and underprivileged populations, as well as refugee communities in areas of conflict.
“My SESP experience fostered the desire to serve other communities,” she said. “It has challenged me in the way I think about social justice issues.”
The Big Ideas Forums, sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research, are a series of lunchtime conversations on urgent topics that bring together student and faculty researchers from across Northwestern to celebrate interdisciplinary research.
The program will be moderated by Galya Ben-Arieh of the Center for Forced Migration. In addition to Hwang, undergraduates Angela Lin (Mathematical Methods in Social Sciences and Middle East and North African studies program) and Aslı Salihoğlu (Economics and International studies) will be presenting.
The students will be joined by faculty members Peter Locke, assistant professor of instruction in the department of anthropology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; and Lauren Stokes, a college fellow in the history department of the Weinberg College in Arts and Sciences.