Emory Report

May 4, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 31

Visiting scholar makes great
strides in AIDS/HIV education

Kate Winskell proves you don't have to be an MD or a biomedical researcher to make a strong contribution to the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Winskell, a Rockefeller fellow, has been in residence at Emory this semester through the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship (CSPS) "Emergent Illness, Public Scholarship" program.

Born and educated in England, Winskell completed her PhD in art history at the Courtauld Institute of The University of London. Early in 1995, in fact the day after she defended her thesis, Winskell and her partner, Daniel Enger, initiated a research project that focused on HIV/AID prevention for young people in West Africa. "We found a comprehensive-and highly rewarding-way of putting our work experience and research skills to practical use," she said.

From May 1995 to September of the following year, Winskell and Enger engaged in "South-North Dialogues," a tri-continental study on HIV/AIDS prevention for youth. Their study, and the projects that have evolved from it, illustrate how academic theory can help resolve practical issues in an interactive process crossing linguistic, cultural, international, disciplinary and institutional boundaries.

The two established a dialogue with AIDS prevention specialists at the local level to discover innovative approaches to educating young people. This meant hundreds of onsite interviews with medical professionals, religious leaders, public health researchers, medical anthropologists, journalists, filmmakers, actors, teachers, activists, social workers and young people themselves. A broad international network was developed in the process.

"Scenarios from the Sahel", a multi-media HIV prevention project in West Africa, grew from "Dialogues." Winskell and her colleagues drew inspiration from a French AIDS prevention project for the culture-specific "Scenarios." Young West Africans were invited to enter a competition to come up with ideas in written or pictorial form for a short film about HIV/AIDS. The competition, which drew about 12,000 entries, also proved educational for members of the AIDS prevention network by providing an important database and evaluation of existing education efforts in the region. The review committee selected 30 scenarios for production by professional African filmmakers, and those films will become new AIDS intervention tools.

Winskell, who leaves Emory at the end of this month, was one of four fellows selected for the CSPS program, the first phase of the three-year "Institutions of Public Culture" project. She has presented her work to groups from the ILA, African Studies and School of Public Health, and has participated in this year's Sawyer Seminar, "Emerging Illness and Communities of Suffering."

Winskell also conducted a workshop at Emory on the "Scenarios" project, where she screened three of the films showing how Africans creatively confront AIDS education. Participants from Emory, Clark Atlanta, the University of Georgia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Atlanta Public School system, the United Nations Population Fund and Senegal-based Africa Consultants International, a non-governmental organization, discussed how the "Scenarios" concept might be applied elsewhere.

Winskell has made a real impression on the Emory community, said Ivan Karp, director of the CSPS. "We were given a privileged insight into the film industry in Africa, but, most of all, we were able to see Africans responding to the AIDS crisis as more than passive victims, but as active thinking agents working on a terrible problem."

-Cathy Byrd

Return to May 4, 1998 Contents Page