Kylie Clay is a recipient of the Academic Year 2014-2015 and Summer 2016 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. The award provides undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students with financial support to develop fluency in less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) and expertise in the regions in which these languages are spoken. Every year the Center for Global Studies awards between 12-15 fellowships to UW students. Click here to learn more.
I am a doctoral student in Political Science, focusing on the political economy of natural resource use and management in agricultural economies. I am particularly interested in understanding how economic and land tenure institutions shape decisions to clear forests in rural areas. To better address these issues, I hope to begin interviews and surveys at the household level in Tanzania in the coming year. The summer FLAS fellowship I received through the Center for Global Studies allowed me to completely immerse myself in the Swahili language for two months and, in doing so, develop the advanced conversational and writing skills in Swahili that will be necessary as I pursue this research. Though I had studied Swahili for two years at UW prior to the fellowship, I had never felt any fluidity with the language until this experience. My time in Tanzania was doubly valuable as it coincided with early stages of developing my dissertation prospectus. I hope to return to Tanzania to conduct fieldwork for my dissertation and feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to explore possible avenues for fruitful research while in country. The FLAS fellowship was an invaluable experience that enabled me to develop a more focused research agenda while helping me build the language skills needed to pursue that research.