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Faculty to Research, Teach Abroad on Fulbright Grants

May 18, 2018

Three members of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy faculty will research and teach abroad after receiving grants from the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

The awards were announced this spring for Anne Barrett, professor of sociology and director of the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy; Christopher Coutts, associate professor of urban and regional planning; and Miles Taylor, associate professor of sociology.

Barrett received her Fulbright to grant to conduct research at the University of Trento in Italy. Her research will examine the impact of the country's population trend has on services to older adults. Italy's population is aging at a fast rate, making it one of the oldest populations in the world. Barrett noticed how many towns and communities were affected by the rapid aging during her years of teaching at FSU's Florence study program in the summer.

“Teaching abroad really turned my attention, as a scholar of aging, outside of the U.S.,” Barrett said. “Of course, other countries are aging – and many are responding in ways that are different from the U.S. I see this opportunity to beginning a new, more globally-focused stage of my research career.”

Barrett’s research will have impact beyond Italy. It will address questions of relevance to the world’s aging societies – how, and by whom, care should be provided for older adults. Her work on the Fulbright grant will be a first step toward integrating cross-national frameworks of care provision and their implications for older adults’ well-being.

Coutts, who also teaches in the college's multi-disciplinary Master of Public Health program, will teach at Mzuzu University in Malawi and conduct research to support the critical role of nature conservation in the country's public health and sustainable development. He will also lecture on the health benefits of conservation. Coutts was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi from 1998 to 2000.

Taylor will be going to McGill University in Montreal for four months over two years to conduct research, work with McGill's Observatory on Health and Social Services Reforms and other research institutes, and teach advanced methods workshops.

Her proposed research will analyze social disparities in health trajectories over the life course in Canada using their National Population Health Survey. Taylor's work will focus on modifiable mechanisms and include a comparison to the U.S. and the implications of our different social compositions and health care systems.

“We know quite a bit about health inequality in our country and how early achievements, like a getting college education, protect our health as we age from young to older adulthood,” Taylor explained. “On the other hand, disadvantaged starts in life promote poor health and premature aging. This leads to growing health disparities as we age. Put simply, if you look over the life span, the health gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ widens considerably as we approach later life, even to very old age.”

These health disparities by education level impact the social fabric in the U.S., from rising health insurance premiums to voting patterns in the last presidential election. The U.S. is unique, even compared to nations similar in many other ways, because of higher health care spending, higher income inequality and lower health profiles and life expectancy.

“We can learn more about why health inequality unfolds, and how we might address it in our country, by studying our neighbors to the north,” Taylor said.