Sioux Center, Iowa — A northwest Iowa Christian liberal arts college has received a grant worth over a quarter of a million dollars to study mental health in Ukraine.
Dordt College psychology professors Mark Christians and Luralyn Helming; history professor Mark McCarthy, and statistics professor Nathan Tintle, have received a three-year, $355,268 grant from the National Science Foundation to facilitate a research program for undergraduates that explores the effects of political upheaval and ethnic discord on the mental health of Ukrainian citizens.
Dordt officials say that using an interdisciplinary approach, this research program will provide undergraduate students with a unique opportunity to make meaningful contributions to important health and policy research issues in a developing country.
McCarthy says he is very excited to see how the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities can all come together to study issues in mental health. He says that being at a small college they have unique opportunities for meaningful interaction between the different disciplines. He says they have the ability to see and study God’s world as an integral interconnected whole.
The four professors have already analyzed and interpreted data from a survey on mental and physical health of Ukrainian adult citizens, leading to 10 peer-reviewed papers. The two most recent papers have resulted from a pilot project run at Dordt the last few years.
Senior psychology major Matt Bolt participated in a pilot version of the summer program last summer exploring the relationships between exposure to the Chernobyl nuclear accident and various long-term mental health issues. This summer he is leveraging his experience at Dordt to participate in a different summer research program in Colorado.
The NSF grant will allow the program to expand the number of undergraduate research students who can participate in this research annually from one to nine. Each year, three to five of these undergraduate students will come from Dordt, with the other students coming from various institutions from across the country.
Students will collaborate with Kiev International Institute of Sociology and be mentored by the four Dordt professors and worldwide experts on Ukraine mental health. The research positions will become available starting in the summer of 2017.