Merrimack in India – Meet the Team

Learn more about our faculty-student team members who are traveling in India over Spring Break 2019 to become familiar with the work of Barefoot College, an International Non-Governmental Organization.
Barefoot College

Meet our faculty-student research team

Merrimack College's Interdisciplinary Institute Faculty-Student research team- India 2019.

Author Interdisciplinary Institute


Dr. Ellen Fitzpatrick

I am an agricultural economist with over 25 years in field research, program evaluation, and university teaching/ mentoring in Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, Latin America, Turkey, and Africa. My experience includes complex evaluative research focusing on sustainable development, rural economies, global health and program evaluation.  I have been working on several projects with Barefoot College assessing the outcomes associated with solar electrification in remote villages throughout the world. Currently, in collaboration with Barefoot staff we are evaluating how Barefoot’s solar electrification in several rural communities in India, has enhanced livelihoods, women’s empowerment, health and education outcomes.

Dr. Simona Sharoni

I am a professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Institute. My areas of expertise include global gender issues with special attention to movements struggling for social and gender justice. As a scholar-activist, I have been involved in several initiatives designed to foster collaborations between academic institutions and communities. I am excited to be involved in this exciting opportunity to visit Barefoot and explore collaborations with Merrimack College. From my research and initial observations, Barefoot College offers a rich interdisciplinary laboratory to find creative solutions to key global problems. What we experienced and learned in a day would take a semester to teach in a traditional classroom. I hope that our experience will inspire more faculty at Merrimack to get involved with this project.

Dr. Elaine Ward

I am a faculty member in the Higher Education master’s program in the School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College.  I teach masters students who aspire to be the next generation of student affairs and higher education professionals. Classes I teach include leadership theory and practice; civic engagement and higher education; counseling and advising; teaching and learning; internationalization of higher education; higher education policy and practice in Ireland; and capstone.  My research interests include the role and responsibility of higher education in society and how colleges and universities partner with communities to build capacity of under-resourced communities and help individuals realize their fullest potential. I am interested in the Barefoot College project as an opportunity to learn about how colleges, through their faculty and students, might build campus-community partnerships that foster global civic engagement and learning.

The Students

Tiana Lawrence

I am currently a junior at Merrimack College. I am a double major in both Women and Gender Studies and English with a minor in Communication and Media. As a student who is passionate about being able to implement classroom knowledge into the real world, I knew the opportunity to visit Barefoot College was for me. I come from a racially diverse background, influenced by three different cultures and growing up in Lowell, one of the more diverse towns in Massachusetts. This is my first time traveling outside of the United States and the first serious exposure to a different culture.  I am excited to learn from those who work at and attend Barefoot College, as I will be allowed to observe and participate firsthand in their grassroots efforts for women empowerment, education, sustainability and more.

Eden MacDougall

I am a junior at Merrimack College, majoring in International Studies with a passion to learn about the world and all that it has to offer. A daughter of an immigrant from Cuba and an army brat who spent a lot of his life abroad, I am proud of my diverse cultural heritage. I previously lived abroad for almost two years and it continued to spark my interest of learning about culture, language and global perspectives. I returned back to my hometown of Haverhill with a broadened sense of the world but with a passion for community engagement. The tools and skills I have gained from economic analysis and my studies of international relations drew me to the mission at Barefoot College. Taking women of rural, poor communities and creating a new socio-economic role for them to help lead their communities in the process of development is a powerful model.

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