Serena Cosgrove

Assistant Professor of Humanities

Sociologist Serena Cosgrove documents how women can and do change societies. In the process, she raises awareness about the contributions of women leaders for a better world.

Her research overall explores ways women transform the world and brings to light what may go unseen even in their own societies, such as gender inequalities. The causes and solutions of global poverty are other driving forces for Cosgrove, who is co-authoring a textbook on the topic with one of her colleagues at Seattle University’s Matteo Ricci College.

Among her other projects, she hopes to bring together women nonprofit leaders in the Americas with women leaders in Africa to explore what they have in common as indigenous leaders, peace activists, feminists and environmentalists. It’s an ambitious aspiration she is well positioned to achieve.

Cosgrove, a faculty member since 2010, is one of two SU faculty to receive a Fulbright Specialist award in 2012. The program, which links American academics with colleagues at host institutions overseas for short-term collaborative projects, will take her to the sociology department at the University of Zambia for six weeks. While there, she will support faculty efforts to balance teaching, research and publications and continue her own research on how gender affects development projects and women’s civil society leadership in Zambia.

Recently, she completed her third trip abroad with students to study efforts to ameliorate poverty in the global south. Ten students accompanied Cosgrove and her co-author Ben Curtis as research fellows on a trip to Ghana to document the effectiveness of microcredit efforts in rural western Africa. Fieldwork and research in Ghana, she says, are real-world experiences that give students an advantage when they seek positions in international development.

Her past work focused on how women leaders transform Latin America. Based on almost a decade of ethnographic research and 20 years of working throughout Latin America, her 2010 book, Leadership from the Margins: Women and Civil Society Organizations in Argentina, Chile, and El Salvador, delves into how differences of gender, class and ethnicity inform the organizing strategies of Latin American women.

Cosgrove’s future research plans include an investigation of gender violence in Sub-Saharan Africa, comparing Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


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John Keatly
Serena Cosgrove, PhD