In prior years, the Democracy and Governance Program had established a program of study under the auspices of the United States Agency for International Development and the Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (USAID-DRG). As part of this program, students had the ability to provide valuable and real-time research for USAID on various topics related to elections and election security.
Under the partnership, faculty could incorporate short-term research projects solicited by USAID into existing course frameworks. In addition, students had the opportunity to engage with a larger group project sponsored by USAID. As part of these projects, small groups of students were selected to conduct research, produce a deliverable product, and organize presentations for USAID staff. These projects counted as a 3-credit course.
This was a fantastic opportunity for students to gain real-world experience, blend their theoretical studies with a practical application, and network with practitioners. It was a welcome addition to the Democracy and Governance Program, which continues to use similar contemporary programs to signal excellence and lead the way in educating future leaders in democracy, human rights, and governance.
The first installment of this course, held in the Spring 2015 semester, had students do research on electoral violence, seeking to develop predictive methodologies and best practices to respond to this type of violence. The students then presented their findings to the Center of Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance at USAID (USAID-DRG), to whom they offered a research report and a visual display of incidents of election violence, to be used by USAID to inform their efforts on this issue. The pictures below are of the students presenting this research at USAID.
The second iteration of the course ran in Spring 2016. Students conducted research evaluating election technologies’ impact on public confidence in electoral integrity. Students once again presented their findings to USAID-DRG.