University of Montana, Missoula
Department of Political Science
Transnational Competence and Migrant Health in a Borderless
Peter Koehn (USA) is Professor of Political Science
at The University of Montana - Missoula, where he teaches
courses in development administration, politics of global
migration, and comparative politics. His current research
is concerned with health-care, environmental-protection,
education, sustainable-development, and business applications
of transnational competence. Dr. Koehn received his Ph.D.
in Political Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder
From 1987 to 1996, he served as the University's founding
Director of International Programs. During the 1997/1998
a/y, he was Director of Research and Development at the
Hong Kong - America Center, The Chinese University of Hong
Kong and, in 1991, the Japan International Cooperation Agency
(JICA) appointed him Development Specialist in Residence.
He has held teaching positions at universities in Ethiopia,
Nigeria, Namibia, China, and Hong Kong.
His international project-management experience includes
multidisciplinary research and consultancy projects in Nigeria,
lead consultant for UNICEF on social/health planning in
Eritrea, co-direction of a natural-resource-management university
linkage project in Belize, organization of international
symposiums on refugees and development assistance and on
U.S.-China relations, and direction of a Rockefeller Foundation-supported
research project that involved extensive interviews with
exiles from Iran, Ethiopia, and Eritrea living in the Washington,
D.C., and Los Angeles areas.
Dr. Koehn's professional service has included the Executive
Committees of the Association of International Education
Administrators (AIEA) and the Consortium for International
Development (CID), founding member of the International
Student Exchange Program (ISEP)'s Task Force on Africa and
AIEA's Committee on Cultural and Ethnic Diversity, and peer
reviewer for USAID's International Partnerships for International
Development program. He has received grants from the Social
Science Research Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, the
Fund for the Improvement of Post-secondary Education (FIPSE),
the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, and USAID's University
Development Linkage Program. In 1999, The University of
Montana recognized his contributions through its campus-wide
Distinguished Service to International Education award.
· Koehn, Peter. (2002) The Expanding Roles of Chinese
Americans in U.S.-China Relations: Transnational Networks
and Trans-Pacific Interactions. M.E. Sharpe, 311 pp.
· Koehn, Peter. (2002) "Transnational Competence
in an Emergent Epoch," International Studies Perspectives
3: 105-127. Visions of International Studies.
· Koehn, Peter. (2001) "Managing Refugee-assistance
Crises in the Twenty-first Century: The Intercultural-communication
Factor," in Handbook of Crisis and Emergency Management.
Marcel Dekker, pp. 737-765.
· Koehn, Peter. (2001) "Cross-national Competence
and U.S.-Asia Interdependence: The Explosion of Trans-Pacific
Civil-society Networks," in Tigers' Roar: Asia's Recovery
and Its Impact on the Global Economy. M.E. Sharpe, pp. 227-234.
· Koehn, Peter. (1999) Making Aid Work: Innovative
Approaches for Africa at the Turn of the Century. University
Press of America.
Transnational Competence and Migrant Health in a Borderless
Migrant health in an era of globalization and mobility
upheaval presents complex interdependence challenges for
the new millennium. While the origins of migrant-health
problems often are concentrated in sending places, the public-health,
economic, and social consequences are played out in places
of resettlement. This global/local linkage produces a fundamental
challenge; that is, knowledge and insights regarding linked
health concerns need to be shared in a timely and interculturally
satisfying manner across groups and transnational networks
that do not possess common vocabularies, illness perceptions,
and treatment expectations. These interfaces are particularly
challenging when economic and political migrants from the
South who possess culturally distant backgrounds and maintain
traditional health-related practices settle in the North.
The research project is specifically interested in the health
needs of economic and political migrants from Asia, Africa,
the Middle East, and Central/Eastern Europe who enter relatively
homogeneous ethnocultural spaces in the North where ethnic
and language matches with health-care providers typically
are not a viable option. It will focus on physical- and
mental-health interventions with migrant populations in
Finland. The central hypothesis is that migrant-health outcomes
will be strongly affected by the level of transnational
competence (analytical, emotional, creative/imaginative,
and behavioral) possessed by migrant participants and their
principal health-care providers/educators. A secondary research
objective is to assess the utility of an empirically derived
and multidisciplinary conceptualization of transnational
competence that extends the pioneering global skill-revolution
work of James N. Rosenau.
The international research visit will be undertaken from
mid-May through the end of July 2002. During that time,
the principal investigator will be affiliated with the multidisciplinary
Joensuu Centre for Ethnic Studies (ETNICA) at The University
of Joensuu, Finland. While Finland remains relatively ethnoculturally
homogenous and the total number of refugees and asylum seekers
is comparatively small, the proportional increase (5x) of
newcomers who entered during the 1990s relative to the country's
entire population exceeded any other E.U. state. Among the
largest migrant populations in Finland are asylum-seekers
and refugees from Vietnam, Somalia, Kosovo, the former Soviet
Union, and Iraq as well as "remigrating" Ingrian
Finns from Russia. Separate, but patient-centered, interviews
will be conducted at a cross-section of asylum-applicant
reception centers and commune primary-health-care centers
with migrants from culturally distant and culturally close
groups, their principal physician, and their principal support
professional (e.g., nurse). If the findings indicate that
transnational competence strongly and consistently affects
migrant satisfaction and compliance with recommended interventions,
a second stage of data analysis will identify skill deficiencies
and skill strengths among patients and providers. Through
increased understanding of skills and approaches that affect
migrant satisfaction and adherence to healing and preventive-health
recommendations, the project holds out the promise of enhancing
the ability of health-care/education providers and recipients
to avoid problematic approaches in illness diagnosis/response
and of revealing transnational-competency deficiencies that
merit increased attention when training health-care/education
professionals and migrants for intercultural interfaces
- particularly in host situations where physician/patient
ethnic match is not an available option.
The project responds to the overall NCS program goal of
facilitating deeper understanding of the social context
that affects responses to global health challenges and disparities.
Its focus is on the interface of transterritorial migration,
transnational skills, and global health outcomes. The project
specifically addresses program themes of global interdependence,
contemporary demographic transition, and inequality. Improved
migrant health not only reduces morbidity and mortality
among those who traverse borders; it also potentially facilitates
host-society incorporation and migrant empowerment (social
adjustment, economic adaptation, and political participation).
By exploring the relationship of transnational competence
to migrant satisfaction and compliance with recommended
healing treatments and preventive-health practices, the
project aims to contribute to the identification of innovative
and effective strategies for strengthening transnational
public health that will be useful in the South as well as
the North. In addition, I expect to contribute to consideration
of program themes based on my training in political science
and development studies, research experience with local-level
health delivery in Sub-Saharan Africa, and work among exiles
living in the United States. Participation in the program
is expected to provide rewarding opportunities to learn
from the diverse approaches and perspectives shared by participants,
to analyze project findings in comparative perspective based
on insights contributed by NCS colleagues, and to link this
project's research results and policy implications to those
that emerge from other NCS studies.
|NCS Scholars, Midterm Meeting, Mexico.
|NCS Scholars Lori Leonard and Seggane Musisi during first Global Health Summer Course Meeting.
|Conferences & Workshops Calendar