Christine Folch and Anne Sjostrom Win First Global Service Award

January 14, 2021

The award honors international contributions of faculty and staff at Duke University.

Christine Folch (left), assistant professor of cultural anthropology and environmental science and policy,​​​​​​​ and Anne Sjostrom (right), associate dean of undergraduate admissions 

The Office of Global Affairs has selected two winners for the inaugural campus Global Service Award – Christine Folch, assistant professor of cultural anthropology and environmental science and policy, and Anne Sjostrom, associate dean of undergraduate admissions.

“We had so many great nominations that the selection committee decided to give one award to a faculty member and another to staff,” says Eve Duffy, associate vice provost of global affairs.

Each year, the Office of Global Affairs will offer the Global Service Award to Duke faculty and staff who have made significant contributions to the university or the global community through international research, teaching, scholarship and service.


Folch is a scholar of water issues and the environment in Latin America. She joined the Duke faculty in 2015.

Her research focuses on the politics of the Itaipu Dam between Brazil and Paraguay, which provides hydroelectric energy to both countries. She has published a book about the dam, “Hydropolitics: The Itaipu Dam, Sovereignty, and the Engineering of Modern South America.“

In 2019, Folch presented her research to Paraguay’s Congress, and she also frequently shares her work on social media, including Twitter and YouTube.

“Christine Folch’s research is grounded in deep engagement with Paraguayan community organizations and government agencies,” says Ed Balleisen, vice provost for interdisciplinary studies. “Those partnerships have allowed her to trace the social consequences of public policy, and enabled her to become an influential voice in debates about how to foster sustainable development in Paraguay.”

Folch readily shares her enthusiasm for anthropology and environmental politics with her students, including as faculty-in-residence at Randolph Residence Hall and through Bass Connections and DukeEngage projects.

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Folch planned and led a virtual DukeEngage project during summer 2020.

“This act demonstrates her work ethic, desire to mentor students and ability to think creatively,” says Austin Connors ’22, who participated in DukeEngage-Paraguay. (The research team presented their work through a livestream, and the video had more than 1,500 views and was featured on a Paraguay news program.)

“Students, including myself, who know Dr. Folch are enamored by her enthusiasm, kindness and intellect,” Connors adds.


Sjostrom began working as an undergraduate admissions officer in 1995. In her current position as associate dean of undergraduate admissions, she directs all recruitment and selection efforts for international students.

“Anne Sjostrom, as much as anyone at Duke, has led the internationalization of our student undergraduate body,” says Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations.

In the last 20 years, undergraduate applications to Duke from international students have increased 1,900 percent, growing from about 500 applications in 2000 to almost 10,000 this year. Under Sjostrom’s leadership, Undergraduate Admissions has built a team of colleagues who specialize in recruiting international students from across the globe and who have expertise in evaluating applications from educational systems worldwide. That team works with prospective international undergraduates, their families, their school counselors, partners within the Duke administration, current international students, international alumni volunteers and countless organizations that support international education.

Sjostrom also guided the development of Duke’s need-based financial aid for foreign citizens, which started in 2002.

She has coordinated partnerships between Duke and the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, Karsh International Scholars Program, Davis United World College Scholars Program, EducationUSA, Sutton Trust, Letovo School and High Achieving Low Income Access Network.

Sjostrom advised Duke Kunshan University staff as they developed admissions strategies, and she was part of the team that developed the 2020-2021 option for Duke students unable to get to North Carolina due to COVID-19 travel restrictions to start their undergraduate careers at Duke Kunshan (and vice versa).

Beyond Duke, Sjostrom plays an active role in the broader international admissions community and has represented Duke on five continents and in more than 50 countries. She has served on leadership committees for the International Association for College Admission Counseling and is a member of the inaugural International Admissions Advisory Board for Duolingo.

“Anne’s passion for working with international students isn’t about the travel or the experience,” says Kathy Phillips, associate dean of Duke Undergraduate Admissions. “It’s truly about the benefits of a global presence for Duke, both on and off campus, and at the same time, making a difference in the lives of the students we admit.”

The next Global Service Award will be offered in 2022, with nominations due December 2021. Faculty and staff who have been employed by Duke for five or more years are eligible for nomination.