American Institutes for Research (AIR) has announced the expansion of its Pipeline Partnership Program, which seeks to increase diversity in social and behavioural sciences, to two universities in East Africa.
The University of Nairobi in Kenya and the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania will join the program, which provides guidance, mentoring, and learning opportunities for the next generation of research and technical assistance professionals. The initiative was launched in 2020 with three US universities: Howard University in Washington, DC; the University of Texas at San Antonio; and Georgia State University in Atlanta.
The program is funded by AIR Equity Initiative, a five-year $105 million investment in research, technical assistance, and partnerships aimed at addressing the underlying causes of systemic inequities and increasing opportunities for people and communities.
AIR CEO David Myers said that diversifying the cultural competency of researchers and technical assistance professionals is essential for the future of the field and to ensure that their work is relevant, accurate, and inclusive. By partnering with universities in East Africa, the Pipeline Partnership Program aims to allow young researchers to learn from and collaborate with experts in the field and contribute to generating rigorous evidence that contributes to a better and more equitable world.
The University of Nairobi and the University of Dar es Salaam are the flagship universities in the national system of tertiary education in their respective countries. This initiative will offer their students the opportunity to connect with scholars from around the world, expand their networks, and gain exposure to professional opportunities.
According to Martine Oleche, chair of the Department of Economics and Development Studies at the University of Nairobi, the opportunity to engage with AIR project teams will be beneficial to learn firsthand how to conduct applied research and connect with relevant policies.
The program will offer linguistically and culturally competent training and professional development opportunities for graduate students in economics at the two universities through webinars and targeted short training courses in areas such as survey methodology, impact evaluation, and longitudinal data analysis. Senior graduate students at each institution will also be paired with mentors to expand their professional networks and receive technical support in their research activities.
In addition to these opportunities, graduate students can join AIR project teams in the International Development division as paid interns. This offers them the chance to gain hands-on experience in applied policy research.
AIR is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioural and social science research and delivers technical assistance to solve some of the most urgent challenges in the United States and around the world. The organization advances evidence in the areas of education, health, the workforce, human services, and international development to create a better, more equitable world.
Article by Jedidah Mwangi