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Social Exclusion: International Initiatives and Global Perspectives

Dr. Bakhshi mentors students interested in Social Exclusion: International Initiatives and Global Perspectives. She seeks to understand the way occupational therapy (OT) is being defined and implemented in LMCs, where public service systems are weak and resources are scarce. The findings of her studies will create an exchange between professionals practicing in very different contexts and comprehend the complementarities as well as the limitations of methods and tools. It will also provide insights into the emerging fields where OT has a major role to play and identify future challenges; these may include OT roles in community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programs and comprehending issues that are new in LMCs (aging populations, mental health concerns, etc.). To grasp the factors ranging from community-based to individual perspectives, Dr. Bakhshi and her students are developing an innovative cross-disciplinary theoretical and methodological framework, which draws upon social psychology, human development, occupational therapy and disability studies. They use complementary methodologies including surveys, focus group discussions, mixed methods and community-based participatory research (CBPR) to capture the complexity of the exclusion and offers a new lens for designing equitable social policies.

General Description of Student Activities

Students interested in international exposure to policy and social initiatives will gain a better understanding of the various roles that OTs can play on the global stage and can greatly contribute to the scholarly work. Students will be encouraged to explore and critically examine the dynamics of social inclusion in vulnerable populations. Opportunities may exist for cross-cultural comparisons with individuals experiencing disparities and social exclusion in the St. Louis area. Students can also scrutinize the evidence through systematic reviews and gain an in-depth understanding of issues that are becoming “global” (e.g., human rights, well-being, mental health, inclusive education and CBR).

Examples of Projects

The research projects aim to build methodology and tools that can help decipher complexities of the process of exclusion. Furthermore, the work has a strong impact assessment component; the aim is to look beyond the exercise of ‘assessment’ and explore ways of engaging users to identity issues, devise solutions and use evidence in their work. Lastly, Dr. Bakhshi wishes to engage with policy makers as well as NGOs to ensure that research findings feed into ongoing initiatives on the field. Currently, there are three main research projects:

  • Constructing a global framework for analysis of social exclusion in education (Afghanistan and Pakistan) 
  • Impact evaluation of the Rehabilitation of Afghans with Disabilities (RAD) program with Swedish Committee Afghanistan (SCA)
  • Homeless women with mental illness in India: An exploratory study in collaboration with The Banyan, Chennai, India
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