Rayna Rusenko

Degree: Ph.D. in Global and Sociocultural Studies

College: Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs

Rayna Rusenko has spent more than a decade working as an activist and advocate for urban poor communities across Asia, helping her develop a deep appreciation for the power of public policy, particularly how policies impact historically marginalized groups.

Today, her research examines governmental responses to homelessness and their impacts on human rights in Japan and Malaysia, where she has worked to collect data and help the communities she studies.

With a National Science Foundation grant, Rayna pursued her dissertation research by spending seven months in Tokyo, Japan and six months in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, she conducted archival and ethnographic research that shows how policies in urban planning, welfare and other fields treat homelessness as an illegitimate or unprotected status, creating legal platforms that deprive people of their socio-political rights.

Rayna also collaborated with Japanese scholars and activists on a project compiling data on the impacts of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on poor people and neighborhoods.

Her work, which has been published in leading global journals and referenced by the United Nations and the Institute of Global Homelessness, calls on policymakers to fully legalize homelessness and create more democratic policies to ensure unsheltered persons can access their socio-political rights and wield greater power in policymaking.

Rayna currently works as a lecturer at the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies at FIU. 

By Amy Ellis
Senior Account Manager
Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs

Nominated by Matthew Marr