Empowering education: The impact of higher education opportunity on development leadership and practice

Wednesday 18 June 2014, 5.30 pm (for 6.00pm start)
Room 349 (3rd floor), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

co-hosted with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Dr Joan Dassin is currently a visiting researcher at the Centre for Latin American Studies and St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, where she is working on a study of how educational opportunity for young people in the developing world leads to personal empowerment and social transformation. The study is based on her experience as the founding Executive Director of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program (IFP), a global scholarship program that operated from 2000 to 2013, enabling more than 4,300 social justice leaders in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Russia to pursue graduate-level studies at the world’s top universities.

In June 2011 Dr Dassin received the Marita Houlihan Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Education from NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Dr Dassin previously served as the Ford Foundation’s Regional Director for Latin America and Country Representative, Brazil Office, based in Rio de Janerio. She has given many interviews in national and international media and has published articles and books on social justice in international education, leadership development, human rights, and freedom of expression.

Dr Dassin has held academic positions at Columbia and Fordham Universities and at Amherst College. In July 2014, she will assume the position of Professor and Director of the Sustainable International Development Program at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She earned a PhD from Stanford University in Modern Thought and Literature and has been the recipient of three Fulbright Scholar Awards for teaching and research in Brazil.

Dr Dassin's talk is titled: Empowering education: The impact of higher education opportunity on development leadership and practice. It draws heavily on her work with the Ford Foundation where, between 2001 and 2013, the Foundation's International Fellowships Program awarded over 4,300 scholarships for graduate-level study at universities worldwide to recipients in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Russia. The program sought to broaden access to higher education by targeting study opportunities to students from poor and marginalized backgrounds, and also to increase development impacts by recruiting Fellows with clear records of social engagement and practical experience in development-related fields.

In tracking the program’s outcomes, Dr. Dassin’s current research analyzes how selected former Fellows are assuming the role of ‘social change agents’. It searches for common themes in the former Fellows’ development leadership and practice, leading to observations about how and why providing higher education opportunities to selected individuals can benefit poor communities. The talk will also explores the implications of this research for the evaluation of scholarship programs – including ways to demonstrate not only the direct impact of individual study opportunities on scholarship recipients, but also their indirect effects on broader processes of development and social change.

The event is free to attend, but we require that you register online via Eventbrite.


Future Foward


ACU Perspectives

Past events

  • ACU Perspectives No 3: International migration and higher education in Australia: challenges and opportunities
  • ACU Perspectives No 4: Knowledge democracy, transformation and higher education: elements of contestation