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Nicholas Smith

Photo of Nick Smith

I was born and raised in Thousand Oaks, California. To date, I have traveled 39 countries ranging from Uruguay and Brazil in South America, Guatemala and Belize in Central America, the occupied Western Sahara and Somalia in Africa, Israel and Palestine in the Middle East, and studied in Spain and Monaco. Work has taken me to Morocco, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The varying standards of living, the resolve of people to improve their socio-economic conditions, and traveling have all furthered my interest in international relations.

Why I chose SIS

I chose SIS because of its reputation as a leader in international affairs education, its selection of faculty, and its location in Washington, D.C. To me, the best part of SIS is the dynamic and professional faculty and students which it attracts. These interactions enabled me to put together a dissertation committee that has both research and practical experience in the development milieu and to get work experience with the World Bank.

Previous Education

University of California, Santa Barbara 2008 B.A. in Business Economics and in Global Studies Training in accounting, international finance and trade, and resource economics.

University of California, Los Angeles 2011 M.A. in African Studies, concentration in Development.

Previous Employment

  • World Bank
  • Buseesa Community Development Centre (Uganda)
  • Moba Community Development Center (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • American Chamber of Commerce in Morocco
  • University of California- Los Angeles (Teaching Assistant)
  • American University (Teaching and Research Assistant)

Research Interests

Economic development, international aid, microfinance, Africa, Latin America, governance, gender and development, and international public health



Curriculum Vitae

My Dissertation

Title: Why Variance Matters: A mixed-methods approach to microcredit impact evaluation.

Committee: Vidyamali Samarasinghe (SIS), David Hirschmann (SIS), Paul Winters (Economics), Mike Goldberg (World Bank)

Selected Publications

  • Smith, Nicholas T. "Africa's Freedom Railway: How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania," Jamie Monson, African Studies Quarterly 11, no. 2 & 3 (2010): 174-176.
  • Brautigam, Deborah, Tang Xiaoyang, and Smith, Nicholas. Desk Studies on Chinese Agricultural Engagement in Four Countries: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria. Report Prepared for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, September 2012.  

Selected Presentations

  • International Studies Association- Northeast, Baltimore Nov. 3rd, Original Paper Presented: "The Commercialization of Microcredit."  

Awards & Fellowships

American University Vice Provost Doctoral Research Award, Spring 2013

  • $5,000 grant to initiate dissertation research in Uganda in May and June 2013

School of International Service (SIS) Summer Fellowship, Summer 2013

  • $5,500 grant from American University's School of International Service to facilitate doctoral dissertation research and writing

American University, School of International Graduate Research Grant, Summer 2012

  • $1,000 grant to conduct exploratory work on doctoral dissertation

University of California, Los Angeles, African Studies Fellowship 2009-2011

  • Awarded $21,000 in fellowships over two years to pursue M.A. in African Studies and to study Arabic