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Graduate Fellowships Available: Opportunity to Improve Lives Through Research

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Ifeoluwa M. Olawole and Charlotte Prud'Humme

The Office of Graduate Studies and Research is pleased to announce that applications are being accepted for the Adel Ait-Ghezala Graduate Research Fellowships. These research fellowships are available to graduate students who are full-time enrolled students in a master’s or doctoral program at American University. The fellowships are intended to support applied, educational or policy-relevant research programs designed to improve the lives of the citizens of developing countries. This is a competitive fellowship. Students must be making satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward their degrees in order to be eligible.

The supported research activity may occur in any developing country. The fellowship will support applied, educational or policy-related research programs and in particular, projects implemented and executed in partnership with a recognized, reputable local agency or organization. The funds are to be used to support expenses associated with the direct costs of research. Students may be awarded up to $1,500.00.   

Meet the 2018-2019 Fellowship Recipients
The 2018-19 recipients of the fellowships were Ifeoluwa M. Olawole, a Ph.D. student at the School of Public Affairs, and Charlotte Prud'Humme, former master’s student at the School of International Service and the School of Communication. Ifeoluwa and Charlotte were conducting research in different fields and countries, but they have one thing in common: their commitment to improving lives through research and action.

Ifeoluwa M. Olawole – Goods & Services in Nigeria
Ifeoluwa calls herself an ardent student of African politics. Originally from Nigeria, Ifeoluwa has a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics, African and Asian Studies. After she completed her undergraduate degree, she participated in a service corps program in Osun state, Nigeria where she taught English and Government to high school students. This experience sparked her interest in policymaking and governance in Nigeria. After completing a Master’s in Political Science at the American University, School of Public Affairs, Ifeoluwa decided to stay at AU and pursue a Ph.D. in Comparative Politics.

Ifeoluwa has seen her family suffer the consequences of weak state capacity and institutions. Puzzled by the levels of poverty in a nation so rich in natural resources, she embarked on a research project to better understand how the provision of basic goods and services takes place in Nigeria. Through the Adel Ait-Ghezala Fellowship, Ifeoluwa was able to conduct exploratory fieldwork in Nigeria, where she met civil society leaders and political elites and developed her dissertation prospectus. “Given how low the human development index in Nigeria is, understanding what drives provision of basic goods and services is vital to the lives of citizens. Indeed, it could be what helps explain whether citizens get basic healthcare, or whether literacy rates increase” she states. Ifeoluwa is currently advancing her research with the advice and constant encouragement of Professor Todd Eisenstadt.

Charlotte Prud’Humme – Hydroponic Greenhouse in Israel
Charlotte Prud’Humme is originally from Canada but she grew up in New Jersey. Before coming to American University as an undergraduate student, Charlotte had already undertaken service projects in Costa Rica, Peru, India and Kenya. She was deeply involved in environmental studies and food security as an undergraduate. Realizing that food systems and the human perception of environmental stewardship cannot be realized without the power of media, she decided to pursue an MA in Global Media.

Charlotte received the Adel Ait-Ghezala Fellowship to start a hydroponic greenhouse that operates in a female-run co-operative model in Israel. She became inspired to start this project after visiting the 2015 World Fair in Milan. The theme of the fair was “Food and Sustainability for Life.” Charlotte was energized by the efforts of countries all over the world to improve national food. She was also encouraged to pursue this project after taking the Environmental Peacebuilding course with Professor Carl Baruch. Charlotte states, “Co-operative models allow everyone to have stake and ownership, creating more opportunities for collaboration and inclusivity. Hydroponic growing techniques allow faster food growth and reduced water usage (than traditional in-ground agriculture) in an area with minimal water and a rapidly growing population. It is also meant to bring women of all backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, and religions together to form much needed cross-cultural bridges in the region and bring people together over food.”

The Adel Ait-Ghezala Fellowship enabled Charlotte to travel to Israel where she was able to complete the ethnographic portion of her research at the Israeli Agriculture and Technology conference. “In true SIS notion, the project could not move further without hearing what locals thought of it first,” stated Charlotte. She hopes to dive into website design, branding, and digital marketing to launch her project into the next dimension of agricultural co-operatives. Ultimately, Charlotte hopes to develop a network of hydroponic greenhouses that work on the co-operative model and employ women in areas facing environmental, political or social conflict.