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.
Sally Frankental, PhD, Country Coordinator: South Africa
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
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.
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.
Carmen Medeiros, PhD, Traveling Faculty
Carmen Medeiros holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from the City University of New York (2005). She specializes in Latin America with particular emphasis on critical development and postcolonial theories, indigenous movements, and modern discourses on race, mestizaje, and hybridity. Currently, she teaches at the graduate institute for development research (CIDES–UMSA) in La Paz, Bolivia. Before settling in Bolivia, Dr. Medeiros was the academic director of the SIT Study Abroad program in La Paz (2010–2012) and taught at NYU´s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies in New York; the Facultades Latinoamericanas de Ciencias Sociales in Ecuador; the Trent University in Ecuador Program; Wheaton College in Massachusetts; and the City University of New York in New York. She has also been a consultant with Bolivian research centers, ministries, and international development agencies.
Juan Manuel Arbona, PhD, Traveling Faculty
Juan was originally trained as an urban designer and worked in several projects in the US and Guatemala. His graduate work at Cornell University focused on urban political ecology (MRP) and urban political economy (PhD), with particular emphasis on Andean urban systems. He was a professor at Bryn Mawr College from 2002 to 2013, where he taught courses on cities of the developing world, urban theory, the right to the city, and urban neoliberalism. His research and publications have incorporated a wide range of issues from the informal economy and neighborhood politics, to urban histories and ethnographies. His work has been published in places like Le Monde Diplomatique, Nueva Sociedad, Bulletin of Latin American Studies, and GeoForum. His current research focuses on trade dynamics between Aymara merchants and Chinese family consortiums, framed by the literature on “globalization from below.”
Meghan Phadke, Trustees Fellow
Meghan Phadke is a New York City public school teacher and alumna of the Cities program. She has spent the last six years working in a high-poverty public school in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood where she built, from the ground up, a comprehensive music program that now serves over 400 students. In this role, she has worked closely with arts foundations and nonprofits as well as city arts agencies in order to obtain, and maintain, resources.
Meghan completed her master’s degree in urban affairs in the fall of 2013. She is interested in issues surrounding the building and sustaining of educational reform, in particular, the use of participatory processes and the privatization of educational services. Meghan was a Trustees Fellow in the spring of 2014 and will continue in this role with the spring 2015 Cities cohort.