A lot of behavioral science research has taken place in WEIRD contexts (western, educated, industrialized, rich, developed), so what are sometimes thought of as universal behavioral norms might not exist everywhere in the world. In conducting research in the Global South, Busara works with local partners to ensure they’re gathering solid evidence for how people behave in under-studied areas. 

Gideon Too, Engagement Director at Busara, is MIT GOV/LAB’s current practitioner-in-residence, a program that provides partners with resources to develop new projects and space to reflect on and share their experiences in the field. During his residency, Gideon will be creating a synthesis report of research projects with civil society focusing on behavioral science approaches to citizen engagement. 

In the presentation, Gideon will speak about his team’s work collaborating with a network of local East African civil society organizations to develop and implement a series of applied behavioral science research projects aimed at strengthening civil society interventions that promote greater citizen engagement and participation, and consequently, increase government responsiveness and accountability.

Register here.


Gideon Too is an Engagement Director at the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics and leads its governance & accountability portfolio. Gideon’s work is focused on applying principles, methodologies and tools from behavioral science to understand what drives effective/meaningful citizen engagement and participation, and how this knowledge can be used by relevant practitioners (policy makers, civil society, media, innovators, etc.) to enable a more responsive and accountable government. 

Gideon Too (Busara).

Busara Center for Behavioral Economics, based in Nairobi, Kenya, is an organization that works with researchers and organizations to advance and apply behavioral science in pursuit of poverty alleviation.

MIT Governance Lab is a research group and innovation incubator that aims to change practice around government accountability and citizen voice.

MIT GOV/LAB’s practitioner-in-residence program provides resources for practitioner partners to share lessons learned and explore new research ideas. Last year we hosted Anisha Singh, also from Busara, who is working on a guide for researchers on behavioral science approaches in the Global South. In the past, we’ve hosted Luke Jordan, Founder and Executive Director of  Grassroot in South Africa. At MIT, Luke published ‘Don’t Build It’, a practitioner guide on how to start a new civic technology project titled, and conducted exploratory research on predicting the outcomes of development aid projects using machine learning. 

Image: A men’s focus group at the Imbuto Foundation, a Rwandan organization dedicated to advancing health, education, and youth empowerment, is pictured here. Credits: Yagazie Emezi/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment.