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.
Sonal Mehta, Country Coordinator, India
Trained as a space scientist and technologist, Sonal Mehta has a master’s degree in physics and a postgraduate diploma in space sciences. She worked as a space scientist at the Indian Space Research Organization in her early career. She then worked in the field of science education, developing creative and activity-based learning for science education programs and national science textbooks. She was engaged in the science and environment movement and conducted research on science policy and philosophy. She has been a human rights and women’s rights activist for more than twenty-five years. As a grassroots activist she has worked with several national and state movements to improve the social, political, and economic rights of marginalized, indigenous, and untouchable communities in India. She has travelled extensively in India, Canada, Europe, and Asia. She has participated in and coordinated the World Social Forum process at regional, national, and international levels. She is also actively involved with the International Women’s Movement of rank-and-file women. A founder of Eklavya Foundation, she is currently working on sustainable development alternatives for an indigenous community of forest dwellers and bamboo workers in the state of Gujarat in western India.
Waly Faye, MA, Country Coordinator, Senegal
Waly Faye is a development manager. He has been coordinating study abroad programs at the West African Research Center in Dakar, Senegal, since 2007, and he has coordinated several faculty development programs in Senegal. He has been the country coordinator of the SIT Study Abroad/IHP Cities in the 21st Century in Dakar since 2010. Waly has significant experience in international development and international education as well as experience planning field trips. He has a deep understanding of the social, political, economic, and cultural environments of Senegal through working with many NGOs and grassroots organizations in different areas of the country. Waly holds a master’s degree in development projects management and is finishing another MA in public administration. Waly is interested in public financial management, international development, and urbanization.
Carolina Rovetta, MA, Country Coordinator, Argentina
Carolina holds a five-year degree in arts from the University of Buenos Aires and a postgraduate degree in contemporary cinema and theater. She has been working in the field of international education for many years. Carolina is in charge of designing academic and immersion programs in Argentina for students and institutions from abroad. Her focus is on the interaction between academic content and cultural sensitivity. She is very interested in arts and culture and works as a cultural facilitator for the city of Buenos Aires. She has written several pedagogical guides on cultural activities in immersion. Ms. Rovetta serves as an academic advisor for American students studying abroad in Argentina. She first began working with IHP in 2005 and helped establish the Cities in the 21st Century program in Buenos Aires.
Rick Miller, PhD & MArch, Traveling Faculty – P&D
Rick lectures on world cultures and urbanization processes in the UCLA Department of Geography, where he received his PhD. Trained as both an architect and a social scientist, Rick researches people and the landscapes they construct and inhabit. He promotes on-site investigation using multiple methods of visual and ethnographic inquiry. His dissertation, “Nomadic and domestic: dwelling on the edge of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia,” with fieldwork support from FLAS and Fulbright fellowships, explores how the building of informal settlements reshapes both landscape and society in Inner Asia. This research contributes toward better analysis of housing and land tenure issues for rural-to-urban migrants, who increasingly underpin urbanization in developing economies. Rick maintains several ongoing projects on city-building: in colonial-era Rangoon, early modern Los Angeles, and contemporary China.
On the side, Rick is a member of the Compton Cricket Club—a team comprised of homeless men from downtown Los Angeles and at-risk youth from Compton.
Sabina Uffer, PhD, Traveling Faculty
Sabina holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Geneva and a PhD in urban and regional planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). During her studies in London, she taught LSE undergraduate students Methods in Human Geography and Spatial Analysis, and supervised undergraduate dissertation projects.
Her research focuses on urban politics and socio-spatial inequality. Her dissertation investigated the process of financialization of Berlin’s housing provision—from the political decision to privatize state-owned housing developments to the entrance of institutional actors through real estate private equity funds, and its consequences for the city and its residents. After her PhD, Sabina worked as a research officer at LSE Cities where she did comparative research on urban neighborhoods in Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Paris, London, and Berlin.
After moving to New York, Sabina worked at a global urban planning and engineering firm working on post-Sandy resiliency and energy master planning projects.
Samantha Hodges, Trustees Fellow
Samantha is an anti-poverty advocate with a strong commitment to creating responsive pathways to civic engagement for the racially and ethnically diverse communities most affected by policy. Over the past several years she has led efforts around anti-hunger advocacy and managed programs focused on elevating the leadership of local advocates from low-income communities and communities of color. She has a double degree is environmental studies and sociology from Wesleyan University and is an IHP alumna. An avid dancer, she is most looking forward to exploring traditional and modern dance forms in each city.