Edward C. Green Fellows Will Contribute to Social and Political Change

The Department of Anthropology’s newly established Edward C. Green Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund will train professionals who plan to work outside academia.

Edward C. Green, B.A. ’67, dedicated his career as an applied and medical anthropologist to improving health outcomes in under-served populations. (Photo courtesy of Edward Green.)
May 08, 2018

Edward C. Green, B.A. ’67, has dedicated his career to improving health outcomes in under-served populations around the world. Through the endowed Edward C. Green Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund, he will continue to empower the next generation of anthropology professionals to make the world a better place.

Members of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Department of Anthropology and other university leaders recently gathered to celebrate the establishment of the fellowship fund, which will support postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Anthropology efforts to shape policy on the African continent.

During his career as an applied and medical anthropologist, Dr. Green worked in 18 different African countries, as well as in southeast Asia, eastern Europe and Latin America. Much of Dr. Green’s work since the late 1980s has been on AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, primarily in Africa. Today, he serves at GW as a research professor.

The fellowship is designed for anthropology professionals who plan to work outside academia. It will help them acquire the skills needed for working in the field, which often differ from what is taught during Ph.D. programs.

Edward Green Fellows will be selected by a committee led by the chair of the anthropology department. Strong preference will be given to citizens of an African country or citizens of Suriname. Candidates may have received their doctoral degrees from anywhere in the world.

Dr. Green’s generous gift will allow future professionals trained at George Washington University to combat the world’s challenges and contribute to social and political change. Ben Vinson III, dean of CCAS, said the “pivotal and defining gift” to the department will lead to research insights that amplify locally-based solutions in international development.

“These Green scholars will contribute to social and political change in their countries,” he said.

Dr. Green intentionally left academia early in his career in order to directly work with communities on international development issues. Edward Green Fellows will similarly focus on obtaining applied positions in the field.

Fellows will take an active role within the Department of Anthropology and university community. They will intern or consult with extramural agencies and organizations, serve as mentors to students, and teach courses or seminars to expand the breadth of offerings in the department.

Richard Grinker, a GW anthropology professor, said Dr. Green has worked closely with people across the world, and sustains intense, supportive, ongoing personal and emotional connections with the people he has met.

Dr. Green has advocated for foreign non-profits, governmental organizations and other aid-providers to consider closely the culture of local populations when trying to change public health outcomes. While working in Uganda in the early 1990s, Dr. Green found that leaders who advocated for changed behavior—like monogamy and delayed sexual activity—had a greater impact on slowing HIV contraction rates compared to those who pushed for condom use.

However, many public health professionals who promoted interventions like condom use mischaracterized Dr. Green’s work.

“Good and effective development work requires understanding why a problem exists and proposing solutions you believe will work and makes sense culturally to the people themselves,” Dr. Grinker said. “Even if the proposal might seem controversial.”

Dr. Green came to GW after attending college in California, unsure of what his future held.

“I quickly found out that the most interesting people were in the anthropology department,” he said.

Soon enough, he couldn’t understand why his peers would want to study anything else. He graduated from GW with a degree in anthropology, went to Northwestern University for graduate school and returned to Washington, D.C., to attend Catholic University of America to pursue a Ph.D.

In his professional career, Dr. Green has written nine books and has published more than 450 peer-reviewed articles and other influential work in the field. He served as a senior research scientist at the Harvard  School of Public Health and director of the AIDS Prevention Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Developmental Studies.

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