Graduate Research Award - Joy Ohagwu
SIS/MA '11, Comparative and Regional Studies (Africa)
"Too often, an accurate assessment of pertinent issues from the perspective of Africans who live day to day with the impact of governmental and international policy decisions is lacking," Ohagwu observes. To that end, she used her Graduate Research Award to travel to Nigeria to fill in the gaps: to gauge the attitude of Nigerian citizens toward governmental performance, especially given the upcoming April 2011 election. Her history in Nigeria includes working as a volunteer research associate for a workshop with the University of Oxford's Center for Research in Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity while previously studying in the country, a B.S. from the University of Ibadan, and a current position as an Africa Officer with the U.S. Department of State, in the Office of International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
During her trip to Nigeria, Ohagwu administered questionnaires to Nigerian youths, asking them about their views on the effectiveness of the previous elections, the pervasiveness of democracy, and the potential for reform during the then-upcoming elections. Her thesis assumes "that free and fair elections produce accountability within regimes, which will in turn lead to progressive economic policy initiatives that positively impact human development."