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Beth Kolko

Autumn 2023 - Winter 2024

Reimagining Global Health through Reflexivity

Led by PhD candidate Elizabeth (Beth) Dunbar, faculty advisor Dr. Beth Kolko
Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering @ UW

Project Goal

This is the last stage of dissertation research to build and test a tool called (re)imaginator that supports global health practitioners to engage in reflexivity and positionality work. Global health structures are steeped in power asymmetries, where much of the funding, leadership, and evidence-based interventions originate in the global north. Decolonizing the field of global health requires dismantling systems of oppression where our imaginations offer a path to interrogate and critique the dominant paradigms and uncover new approaches. The practice of reflection at individual, community and institutional levels offers pathways for reimagination. The (re)imaginator website was designed from best practices in HCI’s “design for reflection” literature and tailored for global health contexts. 

The goal of this proposed dissertation research is to design, build and test a tool that global health practitioners can use to engage with reflection in the interest of decolonizing and reimagining their work. The idea is the (re)imaginator can help stoke critical conversations around how our global health community reckons with history and reshapes approaches, assumptions, vantage points and contributions. 

DRG Focus

This will be a fast-paced and very hands-on Fall and Winter DRG where we will move from usability testing into workshops  with global health practitioners. During Fall quarter, we will finalize the design of the (re)imaginator, and conduct and iterate on the workshops. Winter quarter will focus on follow-up interviews, data analysis and write-ups. Students will be research assistants on this project with following focus areas:

  • Conducting usability testing and learn about how to test/research digital tools like websites
  • Supporting finalizing activities, agenda and tools for design workshops
  • Leading activities during design workshops
  • Preliminary analysis of qualitative and survey data
  • Collaborate on final manuscripts and write-ups


  • Seeking to work with two to three graduate-level HCDE and/or global health students 
  • Students should enroll in 1-2 credits (3-6h of work each week)
  • We’ll meet in-person for ~1.5hrs weekly, and will select a day/time that works best for selected students. Note that with my work travel, some sessions will be virtual
  • Ideally you have:
    • Qualitative research training and experience 
    • Experience in global health programming 
    • Drive to think about how we create more equitable systems

To apply: Given the short notice (apologies!), please send me an email with the following information by 23 Sept. Feel free to ping me anytime with questions. We’ll notify students by 24th and we’ll figure out our first time to meet in the first week of October. In your email, please include:

  • A few sentences about why you’re interested in this DRG: what excites you about this research? What do you hope to learn? What relevant experience will you bring? What do you hope to learn? 
  • Statement indicating your willingness to take 1-2 credits for fall & winter term
  • Copy of your CV with any research publications or projects using qualitative research methods highlighted
  • Writing sample (anything goes, just an example of what you think is your best writing academic or otherwise)
  • Please use the subject line: reimaginator DRG 
  • Any questions you have or other details I should know

A few links about Beth Dunbar and this research:

Dr. Kolko's Research Group archive