- University Life
Professor Esser's current research investigates social foundations of political legitimacy in non-democratic settings, with a geographic focus on urban areas in the global South. This new line of inquiry builds on earlier work on urban governance and development effectiveness amid armed conflict. Prof. Esser has conducted field research in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Mexico and has traveled widely in Asia and Latin America. He has published in leading peer-reviewed journals such as World Development, Urban Studies, the Journal of Modern African Studies, the Journal of Social Policy, Environment and Urbanization, Global Public Health, Third World Quarterly, Ethics & International Affairs, Communication Theory, and the Journal of Business Ethics, as well as in several edited books. A member of American University's Honors Faculty, he co-leads the first-year Honors core course. He also serves as SIS Thematic Area Coordinator for Global Inequality and Development and teaches a doctoral seminar on the politics of policy analysis.
The 2015 SIS Scholar-Teacher of the Year, Professor Esser has been a non-resident Fellow at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) in 2017-18; an Academic Resident at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in 2013; a Drugs, Security and Democracy (DSD) Postdoctoral Fellow of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) in 2012-13; a SPURS Research Fellow at MIT in 2003-04; and a Carlo Schmid Fellow at the International Labour Office in 2001-02. In 2006-08, he worked as an International Civil Servant with UNESCAP (Bangkok) and UNDP (New York). Prof. Esser has received research grants from Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Mellon-MIT Program on NGOs and Forced Migration, the German National Academic Foundation, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). As a consultant, he has advised the World Bank, the OECD, USAID, the Federal Government of Germany, FLACSO, and CARE International on program planning and has led evaluations of multi-million donor portfolios, most recently on subnational governance in Afghanistan and on the impact of external actors in Pakistan.
PhD, Development Studies; MSc, Development Management (Dist.), London School of Economics and Political Science
The City as Plural: Rights, Resilience, and Collective Power, presentation at the 2018 Trialog e.V. conference on “Resilient Urban Development versus the Right to the City? Actors, Risks and Conflicts in the Light of International Agreements (SDG and NUA) – What can the academia contribute?”, Technical University Dortmund, 7–8 June 2018.
Putting Politics Back into ‘Resilience’, presentation at the second “Human Security and Violence in 21st Century Cities” conference, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 22–24 April 2018.
Social determinants of legitimate governance in non-democratic polities, panel chair at the Annual Meeting of the Development Studies Association, Bradford, 6–8 September 2017.
Patterns and predictors of urban residents’ coping with violent state failure: survey results from Ciudad Juárez following the 2006-2012 Mexican drug war, presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers, Boston, MA, 5–9 April 2017.
City Governance in Conflict Zones: Putting Politics Back into ‘Resilience’, presentation at the “Confronting Vulnerability & Violence in the Urban Century” conference, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 13–15 November 2016.
Conditions for International Legitimacy in Indigenous Policy Processes: Comparing Afghanistan’s Provincial Budgeting Policy and Sub-National Governance Policy, presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Development Studies Association, Oxford, 10–12 Sept. 2016.
2013–2015: International Development Research Center, co-drafted funding proposal and served as Technical Adviser for “Exclusion, Violence and Communal Responses in Central American Cities”
2012–2013: Social Science Research Research Council, Principal Investigator, “Collective Action Against Urban Violence: Why Some Communities in Ciudad Juárez Succeed and Others Don’t”
Area of Expertise:
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Mexico, global health, local governance, complex emergencies, post-conflict reconstruction, aid effectiveness, program evaluation, United Nations, development effectiveness, NGOs
Daniel Esser's research has been published in leading academic journals, including World Development, Ethics and International Affairs, Environment and Urbanization, Critical Planning, and the Journal of Business Ethics, among others. Esser investigates development effectiveness in the context of local, national and global policies and programs. He focuses on three research areas:  local (in particular urban) governance in the context of armed conflict,  global health agenda-setting and resource allocation, and  discourses as frames for global development policies. http://danielesser.org
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