TACOMA, Washington — Eradicating global poverty, as any progress, is possible through research and innovation. Non-government organizations and government initiatives have consistently taken on the task of discovering newer and more effective ways to prevent poverty. More recently, academic institutions are isolating global poverty research as an area of interest. According to a conference and research forum hosted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business in March 2012, research is an ideal way to discover solutions to global poverty. The former head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, spoke at the conference saying, “Without an operating framework, any project in the developing world will be for naught.” Research provides an operating framework and requires careful consideration of all factors that are essential to developing solutions to this global crisis.
Research Leading Global Poverty Efforts
There are inherent qualities to academic research that set it up for success when posed with finding targeted solutions to issues like global poverty. One of the main examples of this is that the core goal of academic research is to contribute to a larger “body of knowledge.” This means that this type of research seeks to be contextualized by past, present and future research. It does not exist in a vacuum and encourages drawing upon other research in order to create the best possible outcome for its goal, in this case, alleviating global poverty.
Academic research can also be extremely objective. This type of research is undertaken for the sake of learning itself, not with a business-oriented motive in mind. This fact, along with rigorous peer-reviewing, only allows for the truest and most plausible research to succeed through all stages of the process and become an inspiration for viable solutions.
College research institutions have the resources to think conceptually and apply those concepts to practical solutions. A report published by TEConomy Partners LLC for the State of Indiana regarding the role of research universities illustrates their uniquely significant contributions to society. The report details the various impacts of research universities at a micro-level on the students and professors, but also at a macro-level for scholars in disciplines around the world. These environments foster discussion, debate and the ability to pursue a line of thinking without necessarily having to justify it by an eventual capital gain. This allows for bold thinking, which is necessary for synthesizing new technology with seemingly unending realities surrounding global poverty, eventually leading to the best possible fix to a particular problem.
Global Poverty Research Lab, Northwestern University
This research lab describes its purpose as “addressing the challenges of overcoming poverty and improving well-being in the developing world.” One of the unique aspects of this institution’s research strategy is that it uses “geographic research clusters.” This is a long-term commitment with specific regions, in this case, Chine, Ghana and the Philippines, which allows them to build their data over time and apply it to a range of research projects. Currently, they have a variety of projects focused on the impacts of COVID-19 on impoverished communities.
In Namibia, researchers are evaluating a natural resource management program that could protect the quality of land and prevent water shortages due to the overuse of these resources. The range of the lab’s research provides for potential innovations in a variety of regions severely impacted by poverty.
King Center on Global Development, Stanford University
This institution’s goal is “turning research into results.” While its range of research spans the world, the King Center works closely with China and India to coordinate their research with the work of policymakers and other influential authorities in those countries.
One of the current working research projects is focused on building a better way to measure poverty. The project uses object detection with satellite images to create accurate maps so humanitarian groups and governments can predict where resources are most needed.
The Earth Institute, Columbia University
The Earth Institute covers a range of research areas split into nine categories, one of which is poverty. A project within this category is focused on sustainable agriculture. The Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment program synthesizes resources and research to create sustainable agriculture methods that are tailored to specific countries and regions.
In terms of healthcare, the Access Project applies research focused on management and business to strengthen healthcare infrastructure for impoverished communities. The institute has also partnered with the United Nations Development Programme to create the Millennium Villages Project, which uses researched methods to fight poverty at a very local level.
Blum Center for Developing Economies, the University of California, Berkeley
This research center has a more specific lens of research compared to the others, positioning all its work through economics. The Blum Center goes even further in integrating education and research work by offering a minor in Global Poverty and Practice with a fieldwork requirement. Students in this area of study undergo rigorous training in the research process and embark on their own projects in a variety of locations. They partner with local humanitarian organizations to contextualize research with the reality and needs of the communities they study. This not only provides solutions to immediate problems but also sparks innovation through fieldwork and sets students up for success in future research endeavors as Ph.D. candidates or academics.
Academic research pioneers the fight against global poverty in many more ways than just producing reports. These are just four institutions in the United States working toward the same goal, not accounting for independent research around the country, and similar institutions across the world. The future of global poverty innovation is research.