Blumenfield receives NSF grant

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Tami Blumenfield, an assistant professor of Asian Studies at Furman University, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the rapid expansion of material wealth in rural China and Bangladesh.

For the proposal, “Collaborative Research: A multidimensional investigation of the dynamics of market transition and social change in rural China and Bangladesh,” the research team was awarded a total of more than $415,000 from the NSF.

In addition to Dr. Blumenfield, principal investigators for the three-year grant are Dr. Mary K. Shenk (University of Missouri) and Dr. Siobhan Mattison (University of New Mexico).

Additional collaborative partners are Yunnan University’s Institute of Ethnic Studies and National Research Center for Studies of Borderland Ethnic Minorities (Professor He Ming) and Lijiang Education College (Professors He Mei and Yang Lifen), as well as the Bangladesh research institute, ICDDR,B (Dr. Nurul Alam). Dr. Mary Towner of Oklahoma State University is a co-investigator.

“The research supported by this award will investigate the relationship between social change and a range of wealth types, including material wealth, health, education, and social networks,” says Blumenfield. “People often focus on cash income but overlook other aspects of well-being. Our goal with this project is to look more broadly at all these dimensions, thus giving policymakers and social scientists a better understanding of the causes and consequences of income inequality and associated social problems.”

Blumenfield said Chinese researchers He Mei and Yang Lifen, who are from Mosuo villages in the study community, will bring a unique perspective to the study design, helping ensure the questions address diverse experiences from different areas.


Dr. Tami Blumenfield

Blumenfield is Assistant Professor of Asian Studies at Furman, where she teaches courses on contemporary China, Cultural Anthropology, Gender, and Media in Asia. She is also affiliated with the Anthropology Program, the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Interdisciplinary Minor, the Film Studies Interdisciplinary Minor, and the Shi Center for Sustainability. Blumenfield was also selected for a Fulbright Scholar Grant to conduct research in China during the 2015-16 academic year.

Blumenfield is a founding board member and vice-president of the Cool Mountain Education Fund, a community sustainability initiative in China. She is a graduate of Oberlin College, and holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington.

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations Office at (864) 294-3107.

Faculty Showcase

2:30pm, Tuesday September 8 at Daniel Recital Hall. Featuring violin, viola, clarinet, bassoon, tuba, piano, and voice.

CLP-Golden Dragon Acrobats


7:30-9:30pm, Thursday September 10 at Timmons Arena. Free Admission.

CLP-“Private Romeo”

7:30 – 9:30pm, Wednesday September 9 at the Trone Student Center (Burgiss Theater). Film directed by Alan Brown

Riley Institute Announces finalists for education award

tunky-riley-kidsFurman University’s Riley Institute and South Carolina Future Minds have announced the finalists for the 2015 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence.

The winner of the award will be announced at a luncheon Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 12:30 p.m. at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

Presented in conjunction with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina State Board of Education, the award highlights innovative educational initiatives throughout the state.

At the award luncheon, held during South Carolina Future Minds’ annual Public Education Partners conference, Linda O’Bryon, president and CEO of South Carolina ETV, will host a conversation with current South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. Former two-term Governor of South Carolina and United States Secretary of Education Dick Riley will present the award.

The 2015 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC award finalists are:

Using program research and evaluation, maximization of resources, and sustainability as criteria, a committee of corporate leaders and education experts selected these finalists from more than 100 entries in the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSC clearinghouse. Each finalist will receive a cash prize to grow their program and share information about it.

The WhatWorksSC award luncheon and the S.C. Conference of Public Education Partners (PEP) are open to the public. Register for the full day conference ($75 before September 24) or the lunch only ($20) at this link.

For more information about the award luncheon, call the Riley Institute at (864) 294-3546 or email  For more information about the PEP conference, visit Information about the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSCsm clearinghouse can be found here.

About WhatWorksSC

The WhatWorksSC clearinghouse showcases initiatives that explore and exemplify key strategies for improving South Carolina’s public schools.

WhatWorksSC ties strategies for world-class schools in South Carolina to promising in-state initiatives. The resource includes policy papers written by state leaders, case studies, and an evolving clearinghouse of initiatives that explore and exemplify key strategies for improving South Carolina’s public schools. WhatWorksSC is continually seeking information about exemplary education initiatives for inclusion in the clearinghouse, and welcomes ongoing nominations for consideration for succeeding years’ awards.

*Creation of WhatWorksSC was driven by “In Their Own Words: A Public Vision for Educational Excellence in South Carolina.” This study, the largest ever done in South Carolina and unique nationally, details key strategies for creating world-class schools in South Carolina, derived from 3,000 focus group hours with more than 800 stakeholders. It was conducted by the Riley Institute in 2005 and 2006 with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


A lead worth following


John Kiser ’14 was sitting at his desk in his Atlanta office when he got a long-distance phone call from Tacoma, Wash.

The caller said she knew the whereabouts of a 55-year-old man, Robert Reese, who’d been featured on the Justice Network as a “most wanted” person by U.S. Marshals. It was just the tip law enforcement officials needed.

After 13 years on the run, Reese was arrested in May.

For Kiser, his job as a production assistant at the Justice Network is the perfect way to blend his love of video production and community service.

The Justice Network, a new multicast network launched in January, offers round-the-clock true crime and investigation programming with host John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted fame. The network works in partnership with Crime Stoppers USA, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the U.S. Marshals, and other law enforcement agencies.

Available in major cities nationwide, Justice Network dedicates 90 seconds of every hour of every day to public service announcements, including notifications of missing children and most wanted fugitives and safety tips for viewers.P1090567

Developing public service announcements is a major part of Kiser’s responsibilities at the network, where he edits and digitizes shows for production, assists in scheduling shows, and helps with video shoots with Walsh and other talent.

Kiser, a psychology major as an undergraduate student, credits Furman with helping him find his love of video production.

With the help of the Internships Office at Furman, Kiser connected with Furman alum Chad Bennett ’03 for a virtual internship during his senior year with Populus Brands, an innovative brand-building company founded by Bennett that drives franchise growth, incremental revenue, and consumer engagement.

Kiser managed social media accounts for the Trone Student Center while working as a student manager his senior year. He also worked part-time as a student videographer for Furman’s Office of Marketing and Public Relations under the supervision of Communications Director John Roberts, who is also coach of the Furman Men’s Rugby team.

It was then that he learned more about the importance of teamwork. “Coach Roberts was always telling me to think about the work I was doing and asking me, ‘how can you tell this story?’” Kiser said.

As his thoughts turned toward graduation, he began to think about career options and met Ned Simon, the father of his friend, Cameron Simon ’14, and the head of production and operations at the Justice Network.

Simon, who has been in the network television business since 1978, gave Kiser feedback on some videos he’d edited and told him to stay in touch.

“One thing many young people do today is fail to follow up or stay in touch. That is a big mistake in my book,” Simon said. “Throughout his senior year at Furman, John continued to send me videos he’d shot and edited. I gave him some assignments to see how he would do and he followed through on all of them.”

Kiser came on board as a contract employee two weeks after graduation and within the year, was hired as a full-time employee.

“John is a smart young man, resourceful and hard-working. He has a lot thrown at him each day and handles it well,” said Simon. “He wears many hats and does it willingly. Not all college graduates come to the table willing to do what it takes to get the job done. John Kiser does.”

“I still can’t believe I get paid to do what I love,” said Kiser. “When you do what you’re passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work.”

He also credits Furman for helping him develop problem-solving and time management skills that help him every day in the work place. Even with long days, Kiser said he’s thankful that he’s been able to balance the tasks at-hand and find creative solutions for challenges he’s been given.

“A liberal arts education can arm you to do anything after graduation,” he said.


Learn more about internships at Furman.



Furman University Book Drive

National Literacy Day, Sept 8. Drop off good-condition books in the Edu Depart. in Hipp Hall 101

Volleyball vs. Clemson

10 a.m., Saturday September 5, 2015 at Alley Gymnasium. Free Admission.