As part of MIT GOV/LAB’s mission to produce and promote engaged scholarship, we launched a call for funding to support new scholarly work conducted in collaboration with practitioners. The original request for proposals (RFP), Building Evidence on Citizen Engagement and Government Accountability, asked faculty and doctoral students to submit an application with a partner and clearly state how their research question is relevant to practitioners. We also asked them to complete a risk and equity matrix to highlight a range of considerations and impacts of conducting research in the field.

For the 2019 round of funding, we received more than forty submissions. About a quarter of the submissions were from graduate students. The call was open to proposals in any country, submissions focused on research in seventeen countries —the most popular geographies were India and the United States with Brazil, Pakistan, and Tanzania as the next most common. Of the practitioner organizations involved, more than half were traditional non-governmental organizations including civil society, about one-fourth were government actors, and the remaining included a combination of academic institutions, religious groups, and political parties.

Overall, the quality of proposals was very high, so choosing recipients required three rounds of careful deliberation. We are excited to announce the four recipients, with full descriptions on the research page:

  • “There is No Place Like Home: A Study of Slum Housing Improvement in Brazil” Professor Natalia Bueno (Emory University) and researchers at Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV, Fundação Getúlio Vargas) Leonardo Bueno, Ciro Biderman, George Avelino and Daniel da Mata, are partnering with Um Teto Para o Meu Pais (A Roof for my Country, also known as TETO) to study informal housing improvements across six states in Brazil.
  • “Representation from Below: How Party Workers Shape Descriptive and Substantive Representation” Tanushree Goyal (Oxford University PhD Candidate and Yale University Visiting Scholar) is partnering with the Aam Aadmi Party in New Delhi, India to explore the role of party worker gender in shaping representation.
  • “Mobilizing Citizenship? Community Media and Citizen-State Engagement” Professor Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner (University of Virginia) is partnering with the Indian non-governmental organization Video Volunteers to study the effects of community media on citizen-state engagement.
  • “Estimating the Influence of Religious Messages on Civic Engagement: A Community-Collaborative Project” Co-principal investigators Professor Gwyneth McClendon (New York University), Professor O’Brien Kaaba (University of Zambia) and Professor Elizabeth Sperber (University of Denver) are partnering with Caritas-Zambia and Zambian Conference of Catholic Bishops; Council of Churches in Zambia; Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia; and Christian Churches Monitoring Group. Their research centers on the effects of Christian civic education programs on political participation in Zambia.

We look forward to sharing the outcomes of these research projects and will report back on progress and results when they are available. 

(Header photo from fieldwork in Brazil. Guillermo Toral.)