Photo of Parul Bakhshi giving a presentation

Social Exclusion: International Initiatives and Global Perspectives

Dr. Bakhshi offers to mentor students interested in questions of Social Exclusion: International Initiatives and Global Perspectives. With a strong commitment to social justice and human rights, she seeks to understand the new roles that occupational therapists will be called upon to fill in view of the multi-pronged issues that societies face today, specifically in Low and Middle-Income Countries, where public service systems are weak and resources are scarce. The findings of her studies aim to create a dialogue between professionals practicing in very different contexts and comprehend the complementarities, as well as the limitations, of theoretical frameworks, methods and tools. Her work also strives to provide insights into the emerging fields where occupational therapy has a major role to play in contexts that compound various crises: new realities of climate chaos; the global impacts of pandemics and the need to address questions of mental health and community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programs.

Dr. Bakhshi and her students have worked on various research questions, 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 exclusion and offer 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 occupational therapists can play on the global stage and can greatly contribute to the scholarly work. Students will be encouraged to define the research question that is of interest to explore and critically examine the dynamics of social inclusion in vulnerable populations. Opportunities may exist for cross-cultural comparisons with individuals experiencing disparities overseas or 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 and social justice; climate chaos; global mental health; equity of social policies; inclusion in education).

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. Some examples of research projects:

  • Education Equity and Quality in Afghanistan and Pakistan (EEQAP): a case-control study in rural schools
  • Strengthening International Education Policies by focusing on Inclusion and Equity (in partnership with UNESCO)
  • Understanding roles that OTs can play to support refugee populations in the current political climate;
    Examining historical and philosophical underpinnings of OT in the new Global arena
  • Critical perspectives of cultural understandings of Mental Illness (i.e. Down Syndrome in Kyrgyzstan)
  • Exploring links between Global Mental Health and Climate Chaos

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Current, future and accepted applicants are encouraged to virtual visit. We also welcome people who are exploring career options and considering occupational therapy. Dr. Kathy Kniepmann, one of our faculty members, opens our virtual visit sessions with an informal presentation and discussion,  followed by a chat with a current student.

Upcoming VIRTUAL visit sessions*:

*At least two to three visit sessions are scheduled every month. All times are Central Standard Time (CST). Click here for more info.

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Call Dr. Kniepmann at (314) 286-1610
or Robin Hattori at (314) 286-1653