Making a Difference in Uganda

Fulbright Scholar returns

After a semester conducting research as a Fulbright Scholar in Uganda, associate professor Ann Miller, Ph.D. returns to the Nicholson School of Communication this fall.

Miller was the recipient of the Fulbright AIDS and AIDS-Related Research Award and spent the 2015 spring semester at her host institution, Uganda Christian University (UCU). There she partnered with UCU faculty to conduct research on the association between youths’ exposure to sexual media content and their sexual attitudes and behavior. Miller explained the primary goal of the research is to steer the development of a media literacy intervention for youths or to train parents about effectively advising their children.

“We did an exploration into how high school youths are interacting with sexual content in entertainment, not specifically pornography, but sexual content in regular programming, things that just anybody could run into during prime-time viewing or whenever.”

“So we looked issues such as where they perceived they were most exposed to the most sexual content, what kind of vehicles these were, how they responded to them” Miller explained. “And then we also looked at whether they were any significant connections with their media use and their attitudes and behaviors about sex. We also looked a parental mediation of media use and whether these also affected their attitudes and behaviors.”

“We found that parental mediation did make a difference, that certain types of attitudes, particularly related to gender roles, were less stereotypical if the parents were interacting with them or restricting media use. For example, they were less convinced that women were sex objects. Overall, we found TV viewing was associated with a higher likelihood of having sex at least once and early sexual debut.”

Miller noted that her team has already submitted two quantitative manuscripts of her findings to two journals and is still working on analyzing the qualitative component of the research.

Miller explained the purpose of the Fulbright scholarship is twofold. “In addition to the research, it is about developing relationships and collaboration across national borders, and so while there I trained and mentored UCU junior faculty in conducting qualitative research, taught a few quantitative research methods classes and served as guest lecturer for several classes.”

“It was a learning experience for me,” Miller said, “and in terms of collaboration, it was great getting UCU faculty involved and a couple of them are presenting conference papers on the research study this month, and so I’m very excited about that.”

Miller has been invited to return as a Fulbright specialist and plans to visit in February to teach quantitative research methods class.

At the end of her semester at UCU, Miller took a month-long personal trip with her family to Kenya, a country where she lived for ten years.

“We spent a month in Kenya, and it was a very, very good experience as it was the first time some of my children had been back. It was great to reconnect with old friends, enjoy the culture and experience all that the country had to offer.”

She also documented her travels and encounters on her blog, East African Sabbatical.

“My colleagues here at NSC encouraged me to start the blog,” Miller noted. “So I started it, and I found it was a very good mechanism for reflecting on my experiences.”

To find out more about Miller’s experiences in Uganda, check out her blog,

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