Faculty Fellows


Youth and Environmental Justice Organizing

Amy Krings MSW, PhD, Assistant Professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work
Tania Schusler PhD, Advanced Lecturer and Solutions to Environmental Problems (STEP) Coordinator Loyola University Chicago Institute for Environmental Sustainability

This project aims to advance children’s well-being by increasing understanding of how residents and community organizations within environmentally contaminated communities come together, strategically and collaboratively, to eliminate environmental toxins and promote children and youth’s access to clean land, air, and water. Historically, low income communities and communities of color have borne the brunt of environmental pollution with limited access to environmental amenities. In response to these social problems, impacted communities and their residents have come together to promote environmental justice. This project will document the processes of participatory community planning and organizing that contribute to environmental health improvements for children and youth and  examine the role of youth participation in organizing for environmental justice.

Lead Exposure in the Peruvian Amazon: An Analysis of Pediatric Blood Lead Levels in Santa Clotilde, Napo River

Brian Medernach, MD Internal Medicine-Pediatrics & Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine  

The Napo River is a main tributary of the Amazon River with its origin in Ecuador; it traverses south through the northeastern portion of Peru in the state of Loreto. This region is home to several indigenous groups with the largest being the Kichwa (Quichua), others include the Secoya, Arabella, Maijunas and Huitotos. Along the border of Ecuador and Peru, west of the Napo River, still exist groups of uncontacted populations. These populations are at risk of poor health outcomes due, in part, to increasing exposure to environmental pollutants. Over the last several decades, multiple oil concessions have been allotted to international companies in the watershed of the Napo River. These oil concessions have potentially been one source of the populations’ exposure to pollutants through environmental contamination from the oil extraction process, as well as several oil spills. The level of exposure to lead has not been well documented in many lower-and-middle-income (LMIC) countries, and no surveys have been conducted in the Napo River communities. Without documentation of the extent of lead exposure, it will not be possible for regional ministries of health to formulate evidence-based policies. This study will identify the degree of exposure to lead for children living in extreme poverty in a remote area of the Peruvian Amazon.



Violence and Displacement in a Latin American Context: The Experience of Youth and Young Adults

Maria Vidal de Haymes, PhD, Professor, School of Social Work

Globally, the number of individuals that have experienced displacement due to conflict, generalized violence and development projects has escalated dramatically in the last decade.  This study will focus on both internal and transnational movements of people in the Americas, largely due to violence.  More specifically, the study will examine the experience of displaced youth and young adults in situations of conflict and generalized violence in Colombia, the northern triangle countries of Central America, and Mexico.  The work products of the applied research and scholarship associated with this project will support the work of the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, Jesuit Migrant Services of Mexico, the Network of Jesuit Migrant Services of Central and North America, and social workers serving unaccompanied minors in the United States.


Child Trafficking on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation

Melina Healey, Post-Graduate Child Law Policy and Legislation Teaching Fellow, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Teaching Fellow Melina Healey and Child Law Policy Clinic students will partner with the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation to examine child trafficking on the reservation and draft a tribal code provision aimed at eliminating this abuse. Child trafficking on the reservation has risen sharply in recent years due to oil drilling and criminal activity in the nearby Bakken region of North Dakota. This project will incorporate the clinic's expertise in legislative drafting with insight from tribal leaders and elders on how to address the issue in culturally sensitive ways.

Stateless North Korean Children in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China

Caleb K. Kim, Ph.D., MSW, MDiv., Associate Professor at the School of Social Work Loyola University Chicago

North Korean children are among the most vulnerable children in the world because they are often navigating government systems and transitioning into adulthood without necessary social services or appropriate parental care. The objectives of this project are: 1) to identify the psycho-social needs of stateless North Korean children living in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China, and 2) to develop a practical training manual for local volunteer community activists who are serving these children. Accomplishing these objectives, this project will not only disseminate the quality of stateless North Korean children’s life to the world but also advocate for human rights of the most vulnerable children.


Vulnerabilities and Human Rights Violations of Children Migrating to the US Alone—An Analytical Framework for Catholic Ethics and Advocacy

Prof. Dr. Hille Haker, Richard McCormick Endowed Chair in Ethics, Loyola University Chicago College of Arts and Sciences

The United States is experiencing a rise in unaccompanied children and families migrating to our southern border. This project will examine the specific vulnerabilities and human rights violations of children migrating to the US, and develop an ethical framework that reflects and enhances the Catholic Church's response.

The following are examples of other past projects conducted through CHRC Faculty Fellowships: