A Q&A with School of Social Work’s Kamari Christy

by | Feb 6, 2019 | Dean's Corner, Faces of Fulbright, Q & A, Research

Kameri Christy, Ph.D.
Professor in the School of Social Work

In this conversation, Christy talks about her research to better understand economic vulnerability, violence against women, and the intersection between the two. She also talks about her love of working with both students and colleagues on projects to help improve the lives of others, and how she hopes her students feel as excited and passionate about being a social worker as she does.

Q: Tell us a little about your research, academic passions and/or role within the college. What excites you about this?

Before going into academia, I had worked for 15 years with survivors of abuse and trauma.

While emotional and social healing are important, it was also very obvious that financial hardship often contributed to a significant amount to their already high stress levels.

I also observed first-hand that poverty and material hardship are not choices but are often inherited, much like wealth and opportunities are inherited. 

Therefore, I went into a Ph.D. program wanting to better understand economic vulnerability, violence against women, and the intersection between the two. 

I have had the privilege of working with service providers, service users, and policy makers to not only understand what is helpful and what is not helpful in addressing poverty and violence, but to develop programs and services that are needed to improve the quality of life of the economically vulnerable and at-risk populations.

My preferred type of research is that which involves partnership with communities and agencies, and that is guided by them. I want to help them answer questions they have that will in turn result in better funding, policies/laws, services, programs and outcomes. 

Conducting research that has practical applications and that is meaningful to populations outside of academia is what matters to me and excites me about being an academic.

Q: How long have you been at Fulbright College? What have you enjoyed most about your time here?

I joined the faculty in Aug. 2003. This was my first job in academia, after receiving my Ph.D., and I only planned on staying for 2 or 3 years. However, I fell in love with both the university and Fayetteville. 

I appreciate the welcoming and collaborative environment of the university, the interesting and engaging students, and the hard work and dedication of my colleagues in the School of Social Work. 

I enjoy working with both students and colleagues on research and community projects. I really appreciate how being a faculty member at the U of A puts me in a unique position of privilege, which I want to use to help improve the lives of others.

Q: What do you most hope your students remember from their classes and/or interactions with you?

I want students to embrace the Code of Ethics and all aspects of social work, and to feel as excited and passionate about being a social worker as much as I do. 

I tell my students that teaching is one type of social work practice, and making sure they are as competent as possible when they graduate is of the upmost importance to me. In fact, it is my ethical obligation. 

After graduation, they are going to go out and impact the lives of many vulnerable people who deserve to not only receive the best services possible, but to be treated with respect and dignity.

Q: What do you like to do during your time outside of the university?

I enjoying traveling, spending time with my family and friends, going to the movies, watching U of A and Kansas City Chiefs football, swimming, cooking and reading.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add or let readers know?

I recently completed an eight-month research fellowship at Cambridge University, from Oct. 2017 through May 2018, to study intimate partner violence against women, with a special focus on financial abuse.

One of my colleagues, one undergraduate and two graduate students are assisting me with this research project and also traveled to England for a week to assist with data collection.

We have almost finished analyzing the data and will write a service provider report to share with domestic abuse agencies and policy makers in the UK. 

Additionally, we will write a service user report to share with the women who shared their experiences of trying to get help and also with service provider agencies and policy makers.

Q: What’s up next on the horizon for you?

I taught advanced research with graduate students this past fall and have been helping them with their capstone projects, and I will continue to work on the UK research project. 

Another goal I have is to continue to mentor junior faculty regarding research and teaching.

Andra Parrish Liwag

Director of Communications, J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences 

479-575-4393 // liwag@uark.edu