History Grad Named Humanity in Action Berlin Fellow

By Whitney Hale 

A photo of Christine Kindler outdoors. The University of Kentucky Office of Nationally Competitive Awards announced history alumna Christine Kindler, of Lexington, has received the Berlin Fellowship from Humanity in Action. The fellowship recognizes commitment to social justice and human rights. 

The group's Berlin Fellowship examines contemporary questions around identity formation and societal pluralism and its impacts on democracy and human rights using the city’s own historical lessons from past human rights violations to its current social justice struggles. As a Berlin Fellow during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kindler will participate in a month of online courses instead of traveling to Germany this summer.

After completing her coursework, Kindler will use the following 11 months to initiate an action project applying what she has learned to important issues in her own community. The program also hopes to send the fellows to Berlin next spring.

“As a Berlin Fellow with Humanity in Action, I will have the opportunity to join a collaborative, international learning community in exploring how a nation reckons with past catastrophic human rights violations, as well as contemporary social justice issues in Germany, including the accommodation of asylum seekers feeling more recent violent conflict,” Kindler said. “After the conclusion of the 12-month fellowship, I will have the opportunity to join the HIA Senior Fellow network, a group of individuals working to promote human rights and social justice in communities across the U.S. and Europe.”

The program will also advance Kindler’s studies as a clinical psychology doctoral student and research assistant in the Global Community Health Lab at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her current research focuses on factors that affect reconciliation between survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Kindler earned her bacheor’s degree in history from UK’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2012 and worked at UK Libraries’ Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History. Undergraduate courses in her minor, international studies, contributed to her desire to participate in Education Abroad. During a semester spent abroad in several Middle Eastern countries, she was introduced to the dynamics of protracted violent conflict and became interested in the field of peacebuilding.

After graduating from UK, Kindler worked for an international NGO in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she taught at an education center for Afghan college students and young adults.

“All of these experiences deepened my interest in how cycles of violence are created and sustained through intergenerational transmission of trauma, and how they can be interrupted through community interventions,” Kindler said.

Before heading to Howard, Kindler earned a master’s degree in conflict transformation specializing in psychosocial trauma and resilience from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Kindler credits all these collegiate experiences to leading her to her current scholarly pursuits.

“Through my research at Howard, I am gaining expertise in individual- and community-based interventions aimed at interrupting the intergenerational transmission of trauma and promoting reconciliation in conflict and post-conflict settings," she said. "My bachelor's degree from UK in history prepared me for this work by equipping me with the skills to better understand the context in which conflict takes place, and how to identify and discuss different — and often conflicting — narratives. My UK professors and mentors encouraged me to think critically about whose perspectives are represented, and how this informs power dynamics and systems in place today.”

After completing her doctorate, Kindler plans to pursue an academic career that will enable her to teach and conduct research at the intersection of mental health and peacebuilding.

“My goal is to become a well-prepared scientist, clinician and effective agent of change in both academic and community settings," she said. 

Kindler applied for the HIA opportunity based on advice from mentor Pat Whitlow, director of UK's Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. The Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, part of the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Student and Academic Life, assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with the office well in advance of the scholarship deadline. Staff is available for virtual appointments to discuss opportunities for the 2020-2021 academic year and beyond.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.

 

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