The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.
Tabitha Decker, PhD, Program Director
Tabitha is a sociologist with extensive experience conducting comparative research on cities. She earned a BA with honors in international relations from Wellesley College and a PhD in sociology from Yale University.
Tabitha’s recent research and publications focus on interrelated aspects of social and spatial change, and she is particularly interested in urban transportation. Her dissertation, completed with fieldwork support from a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship and the Social Science Research Council, investigates the planning and realization of the Dubai Metro. This project uses the metro, specifically why and how it was created, as a probe into Dubai’s transnational boom-time social and economic foundations.
Research and study have taken her to several cities in the Middle East, including Dubai, Damascus, and Sana'a. A former Thomas J. Watson fellow, Tabitha conducted an ethnographic study of female taxi drivers in Cape Town, Dubai, Melbourne, and Kuala Lumpur. Her urban research trajectory was launched on an SIT Study Abroad program (Gender and Development in India) where she completed an independent study of an all-female police station in Mysore. She returned to SIT as a traveling faculty member on IHP Cities in 2012. Tabitha resides in Brooklyn, New York, and is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Chris Westcott, MA, Program Manager
Chris is a social justice educator, and changemaker based in Brooklyn, New York. Chris’s professional background combines experience working with social change–oriented study abroad programs, along with on-the-ground experience with grassroots US-based and international NGOs. Before becoming program manager of the Human Rights and Climate Change programs, Chris was a traveling faculty member, then country coordinator with the Cities program. Additionally, Chris was a program facilitator for two years on CIEE Thailand’s study abroad program focusing on globalization and development. Through his work experience with NGOs, Chris has coordinated NYC-based campaigns for worker’s rights and the right to housing and international campaigns for trade justice and sustainable agriculture. For three years, Chris worked in San Francisco as a founding staff member of ENGAGE, a network that organizes returned study abroad students to effect local and global change. Chris has a BA in environmental studies from Bates College, and an MA in international educational development from Columbia University. While at Columbia, Chris was a teaching assistant for courses on social identity, social change, and human rights education.
Glenda de la Fuente, MA, Country Coordinator, Brazil
Glenda de la Fuente holds a bachelor’s degree in translation and a postgraduate degree from King’s College, University of London, in applied linguistics and English language teaching. She was a professor for and coordinator of the extracurricular English program at the University of Buenos Aires, where she was in charge of teacher training courses. Since 1987, she has been a member of the Humanist Movement, an international volunteer organization engaged in the promotion of equity and human rights worldwide; through this work, she has served as a lecturer and promoter of grassroots groups committed to the principles of nonviolence and nondiscrimination in Argentina, Paraguay, Spain, and Brazil. Born in Argentina, for the last nine years she has lived in São Paulo, where she currently works as a freelance conference interpreter and translator. She also promotes humanist education programs with community-based groups. She has been the country coordinator of the SIT Study Abroad/IHP Cities program since 2008, and since 2010 she has also coordinated the SIT Study Abroad/IHP Health and Community program in São Paulo.
Mia Goldblatt, Country Coordinator: Cape Town, South Africa
Mia has travelled extensively and has visited, among others, beautiful countries like New Zealand, Scotland, Norway, Australia, Botswana, Wales, Sweden, Namibia, and Israel. She has lived in Cape Town, Johannesburg, London, Melbourne, and Jerusalem and has finally come home to roost in Cape Town, where she was born. She has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and a diploma in public relations from the London School of Public Relations. However, her passion has always been within the tourism and hospitality industries, and she has worked in hotels, on a cruise ship, and within event management and corporate relocation. She currently runs her own lifestyle management business, where she assists busy people and small businesses with organizing their chaos. Mia loves the outdoors and hiking in the mountains of Cape Town. Mia has been involved with the Cities in the 21st Century program since 2010 as an assistant country coordinator.
Liem T. Nguyen, PhD, Country Coordinator: Vietnam
Liem is a sociologist and demographer who was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he continues to live and work. He earned a master’s degree and PhD in sociology from Brown University in 2001 and 2004 respectively. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Asia Research Institute under the National University of Singapore between 2004 and 2005. Liem was a founding member of the Institute of Population, Health and Development and has been the institute’s deputy director since 2009. He worked for the Government's Institute of Sociology under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences between 1996 and 2011.
His major areas of interest include migration, urbanization, and health. He is particularly interested in the dynamics and interactions among those three areas within the context of rapid economic development. Liem has broad research and consultancy experience with government institutions, local organizations, NGOs, and international organizations, including the Department for International Development (UK), the World Bank, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Care International, Population Council, and the United States Agency for International Development.
Ryan Devlin, PhD, Traveling Faculty
Ryan has extensive experience researching topics related to the political economy of urban development, urban inequality, and informal urbanism. Currently a professor in the Department of Public Administration at John Jay College (CUNY) in New York City, Ryan received his PhD in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2010. In his dissertation, Ryan researched informal street vending in New York and analyzed the conflicts over public space that occur as a result of the practice.
Ryan’s current research deals with the problem of housing overcrowding and illegal subdivision of housing units in US cities. He attempts to view this issue through the conceptual lens of informal urbanism, drawing on political and spatial theories produced in the context of informal settlements of the urban global South in order to understand this manifestation of urban inequality occurring in metropolitan centers of the North.
Born in Santiago, Chile, and raised in the Washington, DC, area, he currently lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In his free time, Ryan enjoys exploring new cities and neighborhoods or re-exploring old ones. He also enjoys cooking, photography, bird watching, and taking long walks with his dog in Riverside Park.
Sally Frankental, PhD, Traveling Faculty
Sally Frankental is a sociocultural anthropologist who taught at the University of Cape Town for many years. She directed the university’s Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research from 1980 to 1992. Her current research interests are in the areas of migration, identity, ethnicity, and citizenship. Her association with the SIT Study Abroad/IHP Cities program (since 1999) has been facilitated by her teaching of anthropology of development and applied anthropology, her supervision of a wide variety of graduate students’ research projects conducted locally, and the consultancy work she has done for the city of Cape Town. Her book South Africa’s Diverse Peoples (with Dr. Owen Sichone), commissioned as part of a series specifically for American university and public libraries, was published by ABC-CLIO in 2005. She was a founding member of the anti-apartheid organization Jews for Justice
Nick Allen,Trustees Fellow
Nick Allen is an urbanization and global environmental change researcher in the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. His research uses archival, geospatial, and ethnographic methods to understand the political economy of infrastructure development and land-use change in fast-urbanizing regions of South and Southeast Asia. He is interested in the incongruity of planning ideologies and everyday urban growth. Nick was a student on IHP Cities three years ago and received a BA from Yale University.