Our practitioner-in-residence program offers a tailored experience for practitioner partners to systematically reflect on their work and share lessons learned while also providing resources for exploratory research. Oftentimes practitioners, including those working for civil society, government, and social enterprise, are too busy implementing projects and putting out policy fires to take stock of what has happened or invest time into researching future opportunities. Our program provides time to capture learnings that could benefit others, and space to encourage real experimentation, especially on critical issues of government accountability and responsiveness. 

We welcome a diversity of practitioners working on topics of governance and political behavior, with a strong preference for mid-or early-career professionals living and working in the global south. This program is part of MIT GOV/LAB’s commitment to engaged scholarship as well as efforts to support exchange and learning between global north and south governance experts. 

In 2022-23, we had two practitioner-in-residences from the Busara Center for Behavioral Economic (Kenya), including Anisha Singh (intro Q+A and presentation), Busara’s Director of Research and Innovation, and Gideon Too, Busara’s Engagement Director (intro Q+A). Anisha produced a guide to help researchers from around the world conduct more thoughtful behavioral science research in international development contexts. Gideon is working to share lessons on conducting behavioral science in the Global South to inform strategies for increasing citizen engagement and government accountability (final output forthcoming). 

In 2021, we welcomed Luke Jordan, Founder and Executive Director of Grassroot (South Africa) as practitioner-in residence (intro Q+A and summary blog). At MIT GOV/LAB, Jordan launched a guide for practitioners on building civic technology, translated into Spanish and Japanese, featured on the Stack Overflow podcast and presented at ccHub Nigeria, TICTeC, and the Open Gov Hub. He also explored different ways artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) can advance democracy that will be shared in a white paper, including a new data set and published report on World Bank aid data. In the first half of his fellowship. Luke audited two computer science classes at MIT and mentored an undergraduate research assistant.  

In the first iteration of our practitioner-in-residence program, Varja Lipovsek came to MIT GOV/LAB after six year at Twaweza in Tanzania. While at MIT, Varja supported several initiatives, including the Learning Collaborative, engaged scholarship approach (How to have Difficult Conversations guide) and evidence review for transparency and accountability.

Each program is tailored to support practitioner learning, research and writing goals. Appointments are made by invitation. 

Photo by Yuhan Du on Unsplash.