Recruiting Laboratory Volunteers and Coordinator!

Laboratory on Sexual/Reproductive Well- Being

  • Sexuality, Women, & Gender Project
  • Dept of Counseling & Clinical Psychology
  • Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Directors: Aurelie Athan, Ph.D; Melanie Brewster, Ph.D., Riddhi Sandil, Ph.D.


ORIENTATION MEETING: 9/21, 328HM, 2:30-3:30

Description of Research:

The Sexual/Reproductive Well-Being Laboratory will be studying the topic of young adult pregnancy and health education programming. The primary goal is to improve the quality of sexuality/reproductive literacy education. It will review existing programs, survey health educators, and develop a cutting-edge teacher development training platform at TC to disseminate well-validated concepts, topics, and messages that ideally make up a comprehensive and holistic sexuality/reproductive curriculum.

Laboratory Meetings:

Wednesdays weekly: 2:30-4pm.

Orientation meeting: 9/21/16 - 328 HM Conference Room - Orientation, Recruitment/Selection

Please bring copy of your resume and brief paragraph of interest and also email to

Volunteer Research Assistants:

We welcome research assistants to support the various laboratory needs including: literature reviews, survey development, participant recruitment, data analysis, etc. Requirements:

  • Weekly lab attendance + 6-8 hours/week independent work.

  • Interest in issues related to young adulthood/adolescence/emerging adulthood, sex/health education, reproduction & parenting.

  • Priority will be given to students who have demonstrated competency in courses taught by the directors.

  • Knowledge of research databases, and general research skills (e.g. literature searches, data management).

Laboratory Coordinator:

In addition to volunteer research assistants we will be interviewing and hiring a laboratory coordinator. Please attend Orientation Meeting (9/21/16 - 328 HM Conference Room - 2:30-3:30pm). Requirements:

  • 20 hours per week

  • Leadership experience managing projects.

  • Confirmed commitment to this topic as supported by current academic interests and or previous experience.

  • Please bring copy of your resume and cover letter of interest to first meeting and also email to Interviews will be conducted and completed by 9/30.

Ruth Lubic & Call the Midwife

TC's very own Pioneer of Midwifery, Dr. Ruth Lubic

Ruth Lubic

Ruth Lubic

In this month's issue of The New Yorker, the "sneaky radicalism of 'Call the Midwife'" is featured by Emily Nussbaum. Dr. Ruth Lubic of Teachers College pointed us to the article while also highlighting the impact of Public Health Nursing home visits as well clinic appointments. Her own early "eye-opening" experiences during home visits led her to supplement her nurse-midwifery education  at Kings County Hospital with anthropology at TC. She went on to found the Maternity Center Association's Childbearing Center, for which she received a MacArthur "genius" award and to co-found the National Association of Birth Centers which has inspired the creation of more than 325 free-standing birth centers in the United States. Dr. Lubic, a "living legend" according to the American Academy of Nursing, most recently created an endowed scholarship to support TC students in Applied Anthropology, with a preference given to registered nurses or other health care professionals.

To learn more about this mother of the American midwifery movement, read the full TC Today article here.

SWG Project and MOM (Museum of Motherhood) was honored to induct Dr. Lubic into the Motherhood Hall of Fame this Spring.

Image curtousy of The New Yorker

Image curtousy of The New Yorker

Taking Motherhood Seriously - TC Today Magazine

Telling “the biggest story never told” 

Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Dr. Aurélie Athan was featured in the Spring-Summer 2016 issue of TC Today's Alumni magazine as part of it's Early Risers in the field of Psychology.

"The act of parenting changes you. In a world of competition, parenting sometimes teaches us collaboration. In a world of violence, we know our kids respond better to understanding. In a world of distraction, parenthood demands our presence."

To read the full article in pdf, click here. Access her publications here. Visit the Maternal Psychology laboratory here.

OutRight Action International Impacting Lives Globally

Jessica Stern serves as the Executive Director for OutRight Action International, the oldest U.S-based organization focused on LGBTIQ rights internationally (formerly the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission or IGLHRC). OutRight implements a model of change that includes activism, training, and documentation. Working in six regions including Latin America, Asia, North America, Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and Europe and Central Asia, their work continues to provide a voice for the silenced.

Jessica Stern: Executive Director for OutRight Action International

Jessica Stern: Executive Director for OutRight Action International

 While her 12 hour days can become draining she has been able to make tremendous impacts nationally and globally. Previously through her work with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch she investigated advocacy efforts in Iran, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa and United Arab Emirates.  To date, one of her biggest accomplishments at OutRight was publishing a graphic novel titled Yousef and Farhad depicting the struggles for LGBTIQ Iranians.

            While much of Sterns position requires copious amounts of traveling, she still finds time to teach a course titled LGBT Rights Internationally: Contemporary Issues and Fundamental Principles in the school of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. This spring course is one of very few at Columbia addressing the importance of LGBTQI rights internationally.

            With many activists there are several goals they have in mind. Going forward Stern hopes to see gender identity fully accepted, the elimination of intersex surgeries without consent, the decriminalization of sodomy, and no laws against sex workers. As with any non-profit organization, there is a constant struggle for resources. If you are personally moved by the phenomenal work of Jessica Stern and the OutRight Action International Organization, please donate here!

Written by: Kenya Crawford

SWG Internship Opening!

Internship Descriptions

Applications Due for Fall 2016 Term: August 1st, 2016

Outreach Intern


Responsibilities include but not limited:

  • Contacting organizations, programs, and universities to further promote the SWG certificate program at Teachers College
  • Creating and maintaining list of organizations with similar missions to SWG, and further our contacts
  • Assisting the SWG staff on related tasks and are expected to attend bi-weekly meetings with the full SWG staff and attend at least half of SWG sponsored events
  • Weekly commitment between 5-10 hours (flexible depending on program need )

Public Relations/Social Media Intern:

Responsibilities include but not limited to

  • Updating social media sites (Facebook/daily, Twitter/daily, LinkedIn/weekly), enhancing SWG presence on social media, writing blogs related to SWG, and promoting events and similar events through our social media platforms
  • Promoting SWG certificate through social media (Hootsuite and MailChimp experience is plus)
  • Interns are expected to attend bi-weekly meetings with the full SWG staff and attend at least half of SWG sponsored events.
  • Weekly commitment between 5-10 hours (flexible depending on program need)

Fundraising/Grant Writing Intern

Responsibilities include but not limited

  • Searching for grants, funding opportunities and creating and maintaining its database
  • Proposing fundraising events, and finding potential scholarships for SWG projects and students (strong communication skill is plus)
  • *Experience with fundraising or grant writing highly preferred
  • Interns are expected to attend bi-weekly meetings with the full SWG staff and attend at least half of SWG sponsored events
  • Weekly commitment between 5-10 hours (flexible depending on program need)

Graphic Design Intern

Responsibilities include but not limited

  • Producing creative and eye-catching flyers for SWG events assisting in the maintenance of the SWG website (Interest in SWG not required but preferred)
  • Working with Adobe, Excel, MailChimp, and/or graphic design programs (i.e., Photoshop) programs
  • Interns are expected to attend bi-weekly meetings with the full SWG staff and attend at least half of SWG sponsored events
  • Weekly commitment between 5-10 hours (flexible depending on program need)

*All interns are required to attend bi-weekly meeting with the SWG staff and attend at least half of SWG sponsored and co-sponsored events.

*All interns are expected to work between 5-10 hours per week.

*All internships are unpaid



Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic

Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project presents Film Screening and Panel Discussion.


Description: The event will consist two parts:

5:00 – 6:30 Film Screening Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic

6:30 - 7:15 Panel Discussion

The Film Screening: Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic is a documentary about five beautiful women from five different backgrounds, educational level, status and location. Five different women that do not look alike, do not pursue life alike but have the same problem – HPV virus***. The film is sharing five unforgettable stories about women who were interrupted by the deadly virus. It shows their struggles, fears, social problems, changing in relationship with partners, husbands, parents and friends. The movie shows the virus’s effect on women’s mental health.


- Frederic Lumiere (Producer, director and editor of the movie that we will screen). Frederic Lumiere is an award winning Producer, director, editor, published author and President of Lumiere Media, Inc., a film and television production company based in Doylestown, PA.  

- Riddhi Sandil (PhD., co-Founder of Sexuality, Women and Gender Project at Teachers College, Columbia University) Dr. Sandil is a licensed psychologist and her clinical interests include complex trauma, working with marginalized/minority populations, women's concerns, identity development, individuation and family of origin concerns.

- Nancy Lesko (Phd., Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University). Inaugural recipient of Maxine Greene Chair, Teachers College, Columbia University.

- Karen Baldwin (Ed.D., Adjunct Professor of Health Education, clinical nurse-midwife, OB/GYN nurse practitioner and administrator in New York City). Ms. Baldwin provided women’s health care including prenatal care and delivery and gynecological care to  thousands of women, and most recently, coordinated the graduate nurse practitioner program at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY.

- Carol L. Brown (M.D., Director, Office of Diversity Programs in Clinical Care, Research, and Training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). Ms. Brown is a board-certified gynecologic oncologist who, for more than 15 years, has used my skills as a surgeon to provide high-quality and compassionate care to women with ovarian, uterine, cervical, and vulvar cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

***HPV or Human Papillomavirus, is a family of viruses that cause almost all cervical cancers including warts, genital warts, and plantar warts. HPV also causes cancers of vulva, vagina, anus and cancers of the head and neck. Both women and man might be infected with HPV types through sexual intercourse and sexual contact. Cervical cancer is highly preventable because screening tests (pep smears, HPV testing) for cervical cancer, and vaccinations. However, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of cervical cancers occur among women rarely or never screened for cancer, and another 10%–20% of cancers occur among women who were screened but did not receive adequate follow-up care. In 2014, an estimated 12,900 women in the United States were diagnosed with cervical cancer. It is estimated that 4,100 deaths from the disease will occur this year ( 80% of all people under 50 of age will have HPV at some point in their lives. It means that 1 in 2 current college students have HPV. Condoms do not fully prevent the spread of HPV, and men cannot be tested for HPV but do unknowingly carry and spread the virus.

Being infected with HPV is very ashamed for women. The idea of having cervical cancer destroy women's self-esteem, increase shame and guilt level, decrease woman's immune system and create a weak relationship with her surroundings (friends, partners, parents).


Twitter: @SWGProject


How Academic Studies Motherhood- Every Mother Counts Interview with Aurelie Athan, Ph.D.

Currently and historically, most research related to motherhood isn’t actually about the mother. It’s usually about her impact on her children. Dr. Athan is on faculty in the Department of Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University and a founding member of the Sexuality, Women, & Gender Project where she focuses on women’s development across the lifespan and the transition to motherhood. We talked with Dr. Athan about her unique perspective on motherhood.


The mother is the beginning of everything yet she’s often the last called to the table.

Aurélie Athan, Ph.D. is changing the way academia looks at motherhood by focusing on mothers themselves. Read the full interview here.

The Reproductive & Maternal Wellbeing Track of the SWG Certificate!


Reproductive & Maternal Well-Being is part of TC’s mission to educate the workforce needed to address the complex questions of the changing procreative lives of 21st century women and families locally and globally. 


  • Teachers College, Columbia University offers a 12-Credit NY State Approved Graduate-level Certificate Program in Reproductive & Maternal Wellbeing.


Despite mothers forming the cornerstone of most theories of human development, training that supports their own needs remains difficult to find. This curriculum speaks to the absence of graduate-level coursework on maternal development and reproductive mental health.

Matrescence was first revived at TC by Dr. Aurelie Athan, a co-founder of the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project. She applied it to the creation of a unique academic arena solely focused on Maternal Psychology.

SWG Certificate.png


You may receive certification upon completion of:

  • 12 points of specialized courses

  • An in-depth research paper

  • A semester long practice/volunteer experience.


Coursework will focus on the dynamic biological, social, emotional, cultural, political, economic, and spiritual forces that shape a mother/parent’s development. We envision it effectively addressing the holistic needs of families, broadly defined, and inclusive of the diversity of care-taking roles and experiences.

CCPX 4126: Matrescence: Developmental and Clinical Implications

Few areas in psychology have developed as slowly as research and theory about mothers.  The purpose of this course is to explore matrescence: the biological, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual factors that influence women’s well-being as they transition to motherhood. Theories of maternal development from conception through pregnancy, the postpartum period, and beyond - inclusive of adoption, surrogacy, and various forms of family building - will be critically examined and applications for practice discussed. Readings include empirical, descriptive, theoretical, literary and popular readings. Topics covered include: preconception care, motivation/timing of family planning, infertility, psychological stages of pregnancy, decision making in birthing and feeding practices, maternal “instinct” and trends in parenting styles, maternal distress and of diagnostic criteria, work/life balance and social support, global and anthropological perspectives, and positive psychology/spiritual reconceptualizations of maternal experience among others. Project-based learning includes fieldwork and research with participating organizations and individual experts.

CCPX 4199: Perinatal Mental Health

This course will utilize history, theory, research, student discussion, personal anecdotes (e.g. videos, podcasts, blogs), news, and social media to develop a broad understanding of the issues related to perinatal mental health, including in historical and modern contexts. Course objectives include understanding the etiology, theories, and treatment modalities for psychopathology before, during, and after pregnancy and family building. An additional focus of the course will be to expand current thinking about perinatal mental health with an emphasis on understanding women’s diverse experiences, as well as the changing landscape of perinatal and reproductive mental health.  Special topics include fertility issues, reproductive trauma, family policies, and advocacy among other increasingly complex topics. Guests lecturers and cutting edge-specialists in the field will also be invited.

CCPX 4125: Women and Mental Health

The course will explore the multitude of factors that affect women’s mental health over the lifespan. We will address issues such as sexuality, motherhood, work, intimate relationships, traumatization among many others. The focus of this class is clinical rather than sociological. We will examine the class topics with the purpose of helping you to be more sensitive, aware, and informed in your practice with female patients. Themes about common affects that dominate the female experience in psychotherapy and in life such as shame, fear, envy, and anger will be recurring throughout our discussions. We will use relational psychodynamic and feminist theories to understand these experiences.

CCPJ 4199: Working with LGBTQ Couples and Families

This Special Topics course will provide a foundation for supporting and intervening with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) couples and families across a range of helping contexts.   The course will begin with an examination of social constructions of sexual identity/orientation, gender identity/roles and relationship or familial norms.  Following this, the course will explore the experiences of LGBTQ-identified individuals within a broad range of helping contexts:  education, healthcare and counseling.  Lastly, drawing from the literature, case study analysis and current professional codes of ethics, the course will present helping professions with interdisciplinary and multiculturally competent recommendations for working with LGBTQ couples and families.

Past examples of other "Special Topics" Courses:

CCPX 4199: Brave New Birth: Psychosocial Issues in Reproductive Technology & Genetic Testing

Advances in reproductive technology and genetic testing have reshaped the natural contours of giving birth: altering the definition of family, preserving fertility in the face of aging and disease, creating choice where once there was only chance, and peering into the uncertainties of inherited risk.  We will discuss clinical, ethical, and policy implications of these emerging technologies, balancing conceptual issues with social forces that influence access to reproductive care.  These larger issues will be balanced with consideration of the lived experience of making hard choices on this shifting frontier. 





Dr. Riddhi Sandil quoted in the Atlantic

The Sexism of School Dress Codes

These policies can perpetuate discrimination against female students, as well as LGBT students.

Our very own Dr. Riddhi Sandil was quoted in The Atlantic in an Oct. 20th article exploring the movement against dress codes here.

Ultimately, such rules could be the wrong way to handle some of the issues that they purport to cover. Since so many have previously been used to address the potential of sexual harassment in schools regarding male students paying inappropriate attention to female students, it’s clear other practices, like courses on respect and harassment, may be needed to fill this gap. These initiatives would shift the focus of school policies.

“Is it possible that we can educate our boys to not be ‘distracted’ by their peers and not engage in misogyny and objectification of women's bodies?”

...asks Riddhi Sandil, a psychologist and co-founder of the Sexuality, Women and Gender Project at Teachers College at Columbia University.

Read more here.