Professor Jan Haaken visits Psychology@LSE

Jan Haaken 4

Jan Haaken and cinematographer, Caleb Heymann, in Kandahar

In January, Professor Jan Haakan gave an inspiring talk at the LSE on meaning making in the face of post-traumatic stress disorder (PStress team during a deployment exerciseTSD) as part of the Social Psychology seminar series. In her talk, Professor Haaken discussed the discursive strategies that are used by different actors involved in identifying, treating, and advocating for PTSD on behalf of members of the U.S. military involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She wove a fascinating picture of the expanding PTSD diagnosis and the vast American military’s mental health machinery that has developed in its wake. Professor Haaken’s significant body of work in the psychology of storytelling and the dynamics of social change is closely aligned with our own research interests in health, community and development, and we are very excited about her being here at the LSE. Professor Haakan is currently a visiting professor in the Department of Social Psychology from Portland State University.

Jan Haaken 5

Jan Haaken talking with members of the Combat



Can affirmative action improve gender parity?


LSE India recently invited Apurv Chauhan, HCD doctoral student, to contribute a piece on his fieldwork in the Indian province of Bihar, where he is researching representations of poverty, health and education. Apurv’s piece drew on a conversation he had with his father, regarding the nature of field observations in the context of local governance. See Apurv’s blog below:

Congratulations HCD 2012-13!

2013-12-17 graduation

HCD class of 2012-13 at the LSE Graduation Ceremony on 17th December

Congratulations to the out-going HCD class who graduated with many distinctions and prizes – with loads of interesting jobs or further study in the pipeline! All the best as you go into the next chapter of your lives.


HCD Awarded Romanian Ambassador’s Diploma


Laura receiving the award from HE Ion Jinga, Romania’s Ambassador in the UK

HCD student Laura Chilintan has been awarded the Romanian Ambassador’s Diploma in recognition of her involvement in promoting a positive image of Romania and the values of the society she comes from.

Laura writes: “Although I spend a large part of my time outside of my home country, the Romanian people and society have remained close to me, and I have been trying to channel some of my activities towards helping them. As a result, during my holidays, I have organised artistic events with groups of Romanian children and I have set up music therapy sessions for intellectually disabled people in my home town. I have also led the Romanian Society at Durham University for a year.

“At the moment, I am doing a MSc in Health, Community and Development at LSE, which is highly resonating with my ideals, values and career interests. Exciting and rewarding, I feel that, through my course, I am getting long-sought answers to the burning questions I have had, such as how to mobilise communities to improve their lives and to effect social change. I am also highly stimulated intellectually by all the ideas in my course and by all the inspiring people I meet. And what makes my experience here even more wonderful is the family-like atmosphere of the HCD class. I believe that all these interactions build a deeper understand of what a cohesive community means and of ways to construct one, which is a valuable lesson to take in my future work.

“In parallel, I am volunteering for a community charity in North London (Ashford Place), where I am doing research on the Romanian cash-in-hand workers. Through it, I am gaining invaluable, first-hand experiences of using theoretical tools acquired in the academic environment. It is also moving to have an insight into the hardships experienced by these migrants, which offer me new perspectives on my life as well.”

Prior to starting the HCD programme, Laura graduated from Durham University with a Sociology BA (First Class). During that degree, she also got involved in voluntary activities and internships which helped her develop her perspective on Romanian people in need. She has also had experience as a classroom assistant in a special school in Durham, and analysed social policy in a charity for intellectually disabled people in London.

Former HCD awarded Himmelweit Prize

A photo from an internship in 2011 with a women's health and empowerment program in rural GuatemalaCongratulations to Abby Hannifan, who has been awarded the Himmelweit Prize for her performance in the 2012-2013 Health, Community & Development program. Upon hearing the news, Abby said:

“HCD gave me the conceptual and practical tools to approach some of today’s most complex, community-level health challenges. Being awarded this prize is a celebration of the classmates and professors who inspired me to grow as a more effective thinker and practitioner in my own community work.”

In addition to the core theory and methods courses, Abby tailored her degree by taking the elective courses Reproductive Health Programming: Design, Implementation & Evaluation and Health Systems & Policies in Developing Countries. Her MSc dissertation explored how Latino evangelical pastors and survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) understand the role of the church in addressing IPV in their congregations and the wider community. Her findings are currently under review for publication in an academic journal. Abby has just finished an internship with Population Council in Mexico City, where she gained technical experience in social research techniques for a range of sexual and reproductive health topics. She is hoping to build a career partnering with communities to design, implement, and evaluate creative programs to confront the structural determinants of domestic violence.

Mandela’s Legacy

Dr Rochelle Burgess, HCD graduate and current teaching assistant on the programme, argues that racial unity may not be part of Mandela’s legacy in South Africa. See her piece on the LSE’s Africa blog. Dr Burgess has also recently published an article in the Journal of Development Studies on the local needs of HIV/AIDS affected communities in Swaziland: 

Promoting advocacy by HIV positive women in Washington DC

Former HCD student Anne Sanicki received the ’2013 Scholarly Activity Award First Prize’ – by the American Sociological Association’s Sociologists AIDS Network (SAN) for what SAN described as her ‘fascinating’ graduate research into the sociology of HIV/AIDS. The title of Anne’s dissertation was: ‘Heaven in view:’ HIV Positive African American women’s perspectives on building ‘AIDS competent communities’ in Washington, DC’.


Rates of HIV/AIDS in Washington DC are on par with many developing countries, with African American women in certain districts of the city testing positive for HIV at an alarmingly high rate. Anne’s research explored what women themselves see as the most pressing needs and problems in their communities, and factors facilitating or hindering their engagement in advocacy for social change. She hopes the SAN award will contribute to the next phase of her work: working with her host NGO to think of ways in which her findings can be used to inform and adapt programming that will be more effective in working with the women to build their agency and advocacy skills.

In addition to HIV/AIDS, the need for affordable housing and issues with crime in their neighborhoods were continually identified as some of the biggest problems in the community’ said Anne. ‘Ultimately, the end goal of this project is to translate my findings into tangible improvements in services and to assist in creating a context that enables women to better harness their power to work for better health outcomes and social change.’

HCD students publish MSc research in international journals

The engaging conversations held by HCD students during their MSc combined with in-depth research training often leads to publications. Two new academic papers – drawing on HCD MSc research – have recently come out on the ‘Online First’ page of the Journal of Health Psychology. This is a great journal with an Impact Rating of 1.88, so a real achievement!

The first is a paper by Esteban Hadjez Berrios. It reports on his MSc dissertation which looked at the role of community mobilisation in achieving dramatic improvements in maternal health services in Chile in the 1970s. Esteban, who qualified as a medical doctor before taking the HCD masters degree, is now Professor of Public Health at Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile. The abstract can be accessed here:

The second is a paper led by Dr Flora Cornish and co-authored by HCD students Cristian Montenegro, Kirsten van Reisen and Flavia Zaka. James Sevitt from the Occupy Movement was also an author. This paper explores what lessons community health psychology can learn from the Occupy Movement. The paper arose out of an ethnographic study of the Occupy Movement in central London, supervised by Dr Cornish. The abstract can be accessed here:

Two other recent successes have been Leonard Baatiema – whose research on community health services in Ghana has just appeared in BMC Health Services Research, and Susan Papp – whose work on maternal mortality in India has been published in Global Public Health

LeonardLeonard’s work explored the achievements and challenges to promoting community participation in rural health services in Ghana.


Susan explored the way in which the White Ribbon Alliance has worked to make maternal health services accountable to marginalised women in Orissa in India. 

Eleanor Campbell’s work on children and climate change in Ethiopia is shortly to appear in Children’s Geographies; Amy Abdelshahid’s article on female circumcision in Egypt and Shannon Olinyk’s piece on global gender policy and HIV/AIDS are currently under review.


Former HCD student wins critical acclaim for directing an ‘astounding’ film

After a long world tour, film ELENA, directed by former HCD student Petra Costa, is being screened at the Rooftop Summer Series in Brooklyn. Petra’s film tells the story of Elena, a young Brazilian woman, travels to New York with the same dream as her mother, to become a movie actress. She leaves behind her childhood spent in hiding during the years of the military dictatorship. She also leaves Petra, her seven year old sister. Two decades later, Petra also becomes an actress and goes to New York in search of Elena. She only has a few clues about her: home movies, newspaper clippings, a diary and letters. Gradually, the features of the two sisters are confused; we no longer know one from the other. When Petra finally finds Elena in an unexpected place, she has to learn to let her go. The film has been described as “a haunting visual essay” (Variety), “astounding and lyrical” (Filmmaker Magazine) and “the film that most touched me in 2012 – with impressive depth and sensibility ELENA provokes 60 insights per minute” (Fernando Meirelles Director of City of God). Elena has been the most watched documentary in Brazil in 2013.


Watch the trailer

“Process is as important as the outcome”: PLA workshop

HCD Students (2012-13) recently participated in a day long workshop on Participatory planning and assessment tools, led by Professor Susan Rifkin, ( international community health specialist and co-author of the leading text Partners in Planning), and HCD PhD candidate Rochelle Burgess. Students were trained on the implementation of participatory tools, (see images below), and engaged in discussion about pillars of the participatory planning process. Of particular focus, were the complexities faced in facilitating dialogue to access local knowledge. The day concluded with a reflexive exercise where students debated issues such as power; navigating the boundary between the role of facilitator and researcher; and the importance of flexibility as part of the participatory planning process.

HCD Students complete time banking exercises

HCD Students complete time banking exercises

HCD student discuss pairwise ranking exercises

HCD student discuss pairwise ranking exercises

HCD students (L-R: Huda, Laura, Lauren, Sophie) participate in ' active listening' exercise

HCD students participate in ‘listening’ exercise

HCD Students debate power structures using venn diagram tool

HCD Students debate power structures using venn diagram tool