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Dear MIT GOV/LAB Community,

With our first strategic review behind us and GOV/LAB 2.0 in full swing, we are thinking about how we can scale impact. One clear way is to support the next generation of evidence on citizen engagement and government accountability through an open call for research proposals.

We’re looking specifically for proposals that include both academic and practitioner teams, and that embody engaged scholarship or research grounded in local contexts. By emphasizing relevance, tailoring, and buy-in throughout the design and implementation phases, we want to encourage long-term relationships where the research results are central to partner decision-making on the ground. If you know of any projects or researchers who might be interested, please let them know! Proposals are due August 31.

Here are a few more projects we are working on:

  • To build research capacity in the global south, we are launching a new short course with the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics that will take place in Kenya. The course trains students on cutting edge behavioral sciences methods, including lab-in-the field experiments, and is novel for bringing together students from both MIT and East Africa.
  • On the partner side, we are collaborating with Just Labs, based in Colombia, on a series of ideation and prototype labs on civic engagement for youth in Latin America and Africa. The design-centered labs will focus on how new data, analytics, and technology can influence youth participation in governance and incentivize a government response.
  • We are also testing new models for engaged scholarship, including a design sprint workshop to develop social impact metrics with our partner Grassroot in South Africa. Grassroot supports social movements and organizing efforts through online communications platforms, and is launching a leadership course through Whatsapp, which we are collaborating on.
  • And, we’re documenting lessons learned from how to put together a collaborative of civil society groups and academics in order to more systematically track what works…and what doesn’t.

On campus, we are excited for Faculty Director Lily Tsai to join MIT Solve’s community-driven innovation as an expert judge. With the launch of MIT’s Schwarzman College of Computing, our work is already investigating how technology and artificial intelligence will impact citizen engagement. As computing shapes the future of citizen-government relationships, we at MIT GOV/LAB will be thinking of ways for our model for engaged scholarship to best contribute in this space. An exciting place to be!

As always, we enjoy hearing from you and getting your feedback, send us a note at

Below are some more highlights from the last few months.

  • Attending #APSA2019? Join us for happy hour! We’re hosting happy hour with EGAP for practitioners and academics on August 29th in Washington, DC. RSVP here.
  • Request for research proposals due August 31st. We’re piloting an open call for research proposals on topics related to citizen engagement and government accountability. 
  • How to learn from evidence? Solutions in context. A twofold approach to how donors and practitioners can successfully engage with evidence to inform their work on information and non-electoral accountability.
  • Why citizen trust in government matters. Research brief for the Scholars Strategy Network on our suite of research projects on the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.
  • 3ie & World Bank Conference on Citizen Engagement and Government Accountability. Watch the video of Faculty Director Lily Tsai at 3ie’s Evidence Week.
  • New World Bank studies on tax compliance. Faculty Director Lily Tsai is co-author on a World Bank study on tax morale including an online survey experiment in 50 countries.

(Header photo: Waterwax Township outside Johannesburg, South Africa where focus groups were conducted. Alisa Zomer)