The GEPA working group, co-led by Dr. Müge Finkel of GSPIA and Dr. Melanie Hughes of Sociology, has been a Ford Institute working group since fall 2015. The GEPA working group brings together a multidisciplinary team of students to work with the Governance and Peacebuilding Cluster of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to gather and analyze data on women’s global representation in public administration. This past year, graduate researchers built off of the work of the 2015-2016 working group, to analyze further disaggregation among countries with gendered data. 

Dr. Müge Finkel recently participated in the Wilson Center’s 50 by 50, the 5th year anniversary event in Washington D.C. The event was hosted by the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) which was started in 2011 by former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to empower the next generation of women around the world and mobilize them on issues of critical importance in public service. 

Named in the honor of the Ford Institute’s founder, Dr. Simon Reich, the award promotes high-quality research and writing by GSPIA students in the field of human security. Students are encouraged to submit a paper, and faculty are encouraged to nominate papers for consideration.

Assistant Professor Sera Linardi is one of two inaugural recipients of a Ford Institute Faculty Research Grant, a competitive grant program designed to encourage junior faculty to engage in human security research and writing. Combining violence data from UN peace keepers’ weekly logs in  Côte d’Ivoire with daily antenna transmission data from Orange Telecom, Professor Linardi and her colleagues have shown a pattern of increased call volume, more within-network calls, and shorter calls in the days preceding violent events. This research holds great potential to breakthrough our current limited understanding of local level violence, to better address its insidious effect on inter-group relations and potential escalation into national-level problems.

GSPIA’s international development faculty have learned a lot about what students need both to get the first job and establish a career path that makes a difference, noted Associate Dean Paul Nelson. Students are encouraged to use their 16 courses at GSPIA to build a strong set of professional skills which are shaped by both the top scholarship and hands-on experiences found in and outside the classroom. 

Despite vast efforts to build the state, profound political order in rural Afghanistan is maintained by self-governing, customary organizations. Assistant Professor Jennifer Murtazashvili’s new book Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan explores the rules governing these organizations to explain why they can provide public goods. Instead of withering during decades of conflict, customary authority adapted to become more responsive and deliberative.

The Ford Institute for Human Security has awarded the Simon Reich Human Security Writing Award for the best student paper on a human security topic to Tara Devezin (MID ’16).  Devezin’s paper focused on improving women’s health in the East African countries of Malawi and Uganda. 

The 2016 issue of GSPIA Perspectives features the Master of International Development (MID) program. Dean Keeler notes the training of specialists in international development has been a central component of GSPIA, since its founding in 1958. The MID program is one of three two-year master’s degrees at GSPIA. The program emphasizes the intellectual rigor and practical skills needed by organizations working in development, preparing students to make a difference locally, nationally and globally. This issue of Perspectives captures the “ethos” of alumni working in the field and documents some of their journeys. The magazine also features recent accomplishments of the school’s distinguished alumni, and faculty. It highlights the invaluable work of the school’s research centers, as well as student working groups, accomplishments and learning experiences. Lastly, GSPIA Perspectives provides a snapshot of the people dedicated to making the world a better place. Read more. 

The United Nations, in establishing its 2016 Sustainable Development Goals, considered inclusive governance a core component of peaceful and just societies, and called for more monitoring of women’s participation in public institutions.  GSPIA’s own Dr. Müge Finkel, Assistant Professor of International Development and Dr. Melanie Hughes, an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, answered the call to lead an interdisciplinary group of graduate students in the search for data.  

 By Nicholas Caskey

John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), recently addressed students, faculty and guests on US efforts to reconstruct Afghanistan.  During his lecture, Spoko discussed the creation of SIGAR to oversee and prevent "waste, fraud and abuse" of American tax dollars. "I thought I knew all about corruption, but I can tell you that what I have seen and heard in the last four years in Afghanistan puts to shame what we call corruption here," said Sopko, "And this pervasive corruption poses a deadly threat to the entire U.S. effort to rebuild Afghanistan."

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