A year-long scholarship has allowed Swinburne research fellow and lecturer Dr Stephane Shepherd to study in North America, looking at the role that culture plays in crime.
Receiving one of just 20 prestigious Fulbright scholarships earlier in 2015, Dr Shepherd has been able to learn from the North American indigenous culture, while also sharing his knowledge of the Australian indigenous culture.
‘My research interests are in the area of cultural risk factors for offending, with a particular focus on indigenous Australians.
‘So far I have been based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I have been working with my host supervisor Professor Cynthia Willis-Esqueda and other Native American professionals to better understand the cultural needs of patients and offenders.’
While he has only been there for a month, Dr Shepherd has already been given a range of opportunities to share his knowledge with others.
‘America is so diverse. I have learnt so much in my time here. Being a Fulbright scholar is extremely prestigious in the US and this has enabled me to present my research to a variety of audiences, from academia through to government departments.
‘I recently gave a presentation on decolonization at the Nebraska Indian Community College and I was privileged enough to receive a hand-made star quilt, presented by some of the Indian elders.
‘I also had the opportunity to present on cross-cultural violence risk at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and visit Columbia University, where I met with a developer of the DSM-5 Cultural Formulation Interview.’
When he hasn’t been researching, Dr Shepherd has been immersing himself in the American culture.
‘I have attended a college football game in freezing conditions with 90,000 screaming fans, I went hunting with conservative locals, spent thanksgiving with a retired army veteran and have experienced snow for the first time.’
Dr Stephane Shepherd is part of Swinburne’s Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science, Australia’s leading centre for excellence in forensic mental health and forensic behavioural science research, teaching and practice development.