Food for Thought | In search of solutions


Hey, everyone! My name is Elizabeth Larsen, and I’m a rising senior, studying Economics and Global Health.

This summer, thanks to the Circumnavigators Travel-Study Grant, jointly funded by Northwestern University, the Circumnavigators Club – Chicago Chapter, and Weinberg Colleges of Arts and Sciences, I will travel to six countries across the world to pursue a research project entitled, “Tackling Childhood Malnutrition: A global study of scaling up grassroots approaches to catalyze world progress.” I aim to study how high impact grassroots nutrition programs can be scaled up to catalyze progress across wider populations.

This project was born out of two experiences that I had last summer. First, I was able to travel to Uganda with the support of NU’s International Program Development Office. I attended the 2013 GlobeMed East Africa Forum, in which I met many grassroots change-makers from across Africa. After returning from Uganda, I spent two months in Guatemala with the support of the Global Health Initiative, conducting a research project examining the impact of a nutrition recuperation program in a nonprofit clinic called Primeros Pasos.

These two experiences vastly expanded my knowledge and views on global development, but left me with many questions. One that especially stuck with me was, why is childhood malnutrition still so prevalent in our world when there are many grassroots programs achieving enormous success? The solutions are clearly out there, but they aren’t reaching a global audience. My project this summer investigates the implementation science behind these grassroots programs to better understand the key to their success.

After months of planning and preparation, I can’t believe the trip is finally here! I will be beginning with case study sites in Guatemala and Peru, crossing the ocean to Uganda and Rwanda, and finishing with organizations in Nepal and Cambodia! I am so excited for the journey, and I’m looking forward to sharing my research, experiences, and thoughts with all of you!

With endless gratitude and excitement,

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