Maryna Nading knew it would be ideal to teach at a college where she could be affiliated with both anthropology and gender studies programs. “Luther offered me this opportunity, coupled with genuine interest in nurturing me as a teacher, and as a scholar,” she says. “This means that I’m able and encouraged to stay active in my research agenda.”
As an anthropologist, Nading found this a perfect fit. “I’m inspired by people, and I derive new ideas for teaching, research, and campus programming from interaction with my students and colleagues,” she says. “My research activities have benefited greatly from a classroom environment in which ideas are born, test-run, or discussed.”
Nading’s research investigates the economic, cultural, and political factors behind the feminization of biomedicine in Ukraine. It also focuses on the implications beyond post-socialist context. “Specifically, I explore forces of the emerging market system and gendered ideologies,” she says. “It helps me learn how they all intersect to help women enhance their moral and cultural authority by selecting a medical profession.”
While healthcare inequities have received attention, Nading wants her research to show how social conflicts affect patients as well as medical professionals. “Ukraine, where I conducted my fieldwork, has experienced substantial turmoil after the breakdown of the Soviet Union,” she says. “Witnessing the ways people have suffered the change has been a profound experience for me.”
Nading interviewed more than 150 physicians and knows their stories have value. “Physicians walk the tightrope of trying to serve their patients, and having to do so in a severely underfunded and struggling system,” she says. “Their stories tell us a lot about postsocialism, gender, and class. They ultimately help us understand the most humane, equitable, and productive ways of social organization.”
Nading’s newest research focuses on understanding risk categories of young Ukrainians in their health-seeking behaviors. “In the summer of 2015, I collaborated with a student on fieldwork research in Ukraine and then with two more students on data transcription and analysis,” she says. “My students have received experience in research design, ethnographic fieldwork, qualitative data analysis, research results write-up, and presentation of findings.”
Her research collaborator traveled with her to the Society for the Applied Anthropology meeting in Vancouver where they reported our research findings in a paper “Fire into Flame: Categories of Risk among Young People in Ukraine.”
Nading appreciates how her research and teaching are tightly connected. “They inform each other. Plus, the process provides opportunities for students to develop their own research projects that serve as a springboard for their future success.”
“One of my most significant teaching developments was recognizing and embracing the power of experiential learning across disciplinary lines and within anthropology,” she says. “I consider it to be one of the most powerful tools at my disposal that helps me demonstrate how course concepts live outside of the classroom.”
One example is her course in South Africa called Culture and Healing. “Students learned that collaborating with traditional healers and appreciating non-biomedical knowledge can have positive public health results.”
She has also recently taught a summer Paideia 450 course called Cold Wars, Then & Now: Germany, Czech Republic and Ukraine. She co-taught the course with her philosophy colleague, Holly Moore.
A liberal arts education agrees with central anthropological ideas in preparing students to be citizens of the world. Being able to work in a college that values these core commitments is a privilege.