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Celebrating 25 Years of CAORC's Multi-Country Fellowship

Asu Selen Özcan

CAORC’s Multi-Country Research Fellowship, which supports advanced regional and trans-regional research in the humanities, social sciences, and allied natural sciences, launched in 1993. In the inaugural year, 12 fellows pursued advanced research in 14 overseas research centers across 13 countries.

Funded by a grant through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the program met a real need for interdisciplinary, trans-regional international research in the United States. Now in its 25th year, 225 Multi-Country Research Fellowships have been awarded and there are now 24 overseas research centers participating in the program, representing 28 countries.

The long-term impact of the program has been considerable. Research undertaken by fellows has launched academic careers, inspired new research initiatives and programs, contributed to expanding university departments, and resulted in countless scholarly publications and presentations.

CAORC is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the program with a look back at a few notable fellows and their research projects, starting with Prof. Rachel Robinson.

Explaining Countries’ Differential Success in Combating HIV/AIDS: The Impact of Population Interventions in Senegal, Nigeria, and Malawi

Rachel Sullivan Robinson

Rachel Sullivan Robinson, 2009-2010 Fellow

Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University

I have a PhD in Sociology and Demography and am an associate professor in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC. I received a CAORC Multi-Country Fellowship in 2009 to conduct research in Senegal, Nigeria, and Malawi, which led to a book, Intimate Interventions in Global Health: Family Planning and HIV Prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

The book shows how family planning programs in sub-Saharan Africa helped prepare countries to address the HIV epidemic. The takeaway message is that when governments and donors design programs to address new health threats (e.g., Ebola, noncommunicable disease), they should take into account countries’ histories of health interventions. Those interventions offer resources, but also valuable lessons about what worked (and didn’t work), and why. Accessible summaries about the book are available on The Conversation and American University’s news page.

Intimate Interventions in Global Health Rachel Robinson book cover

Senegal is the only sub-Saharan African country that hosts an American overseas research center. The West African Research Center (WARC) served as my home away from home while a fellow in Dakar in 2010, as well as on two previous research trips in 2004 and 2006. There Ousmane Sène, the late Mame Coumba, Abdoulaye Niang, and many others provided support in numerous forms. They facilitated my research authorization with the Ministry of Scientific Research and Technology, set up access to the national archives, and helped me find housing. The Center’s computer lab was particularly important in the days before wi-fi.

WARC is an oasis, located in a pleasant neighborhood not far from Dakar’s main university and the Atlantic Ocean. Most importantly, WARC is a landing pad, full of friendly people, and a great place to meet other scholars from Africa and the rest of the world.

West African Research Center

The West African Research Center

The CAORC Multi-Country Fellowship, in conjunction with funding from American University, made it possible to complete the fieldwork for my book. The book and other related scholarship (articles in the Journal of the International AIDS Society and Population Research and Policy Review) has helped solidify my position as an expert on global health programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

This experience has in particular led to two additional, major grants from the MacArthur Foundation for research projects in Nigeria (one on sex education; the other on state-society relationships). My thanks to CAORC for the support!

Read Part Two: Long-Term Agricultural Sustainability in the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean, by John M. Marston

Read Part Three: Incense Production in Ancient Southern Arabia, by Joy McCorriston

Read Part Four: Fighting Malaria in the Mediterranean, by Marcus Hall

Read Part Five: Colonial Political Economy of Trans-Frontier Trade through Peshawar, by Shah Mahmoud Hanifi

Learn more about CAORC Fellowships.

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