As they embark on the thesis or dissertation adventure, all graduate students face the challenge of choosing a question to investigate. Novice scholars must find and interpret the relevant literature of their field before staking out a claim to new territory that will become the basis of their own research project. For the Fall 2017 Graduate Research Series speaker, doctoral candidate in Communication Studies, Rebekah Crawford, this process meant examining the literature of two different disciplines and establishing a new connection between the two. Crawford’s work investigates how religious communities communicate about mental health, and how that communication affects the feelings of stigma and access to care for people living with mental illness.
In her application, Crawford wrote that her own research question arose from a realization that the literature of psychology clearly shows that many individuals turn to clergy members for counseling when dealing with mental health challenges. In her own field of health communication, however, there was little information about the communication that happens during these interactions, or the implications for those who seek counseling with clergy rather than a counselor or therapist.
Recognizing the research gap at the nexus of these two fields, Crawford began her own research on how religious leaders understand “health, healing, and wholeness” and how those interpretations affect the experiences of people with mental illness in religious communities. In her presentation, “Stories from the Field: Religious Communities, Narratives, and Mental Health,” Crawford will discuss the process of preparing for her research and the fieldwork in Germany, Ohio, Utah and Hawaii that serves as the basis for her dissertation. She’ll also address how she used the research literature available via the Libraries’ collections, even when living overseas.
Crawford’s presentation will be on Tuesday, November 14 at 12pm. The event will be in the George V. Voinovich Seminar Room on the 5th floor of Alden Library, and is open to the public and all members of the Ohio University community.