Along with seven premiere North American universities, EARTH is participating in an innovative research project entitled “Past African Recipients of International Scholarships Study” (PARIS Study). The project will be led by the graduate division at the University of California-Berkeley and will study past African scholarship recipients from the participating universities, using the data as part of a systemic approach to understand the complex subject of “brain drain.” Also known as human capital flight, brain drain refers to talented and educated individuals who choose to live outside their homeland, a problem that is especially prevalent in developing nations where these professionals are most needed.
All eight universities participating in the PARIS Study are members of The MasterCard Foundation Scholarship Program (MCFSP). The MasterCard Foundation has generously funded the project with the hope of gaining valuable insight for the future. According to the official research prospectus, “By studying the ‘go back’ and ‘give back’ trajectories of the alumni in diverse historic periods, localities, sectors and disciplines, the PARIS study will derive findings and recommendations applicable to the MCFSP and, through improved programming, enhance the success of current and future The MasterCard Foundation Scholars.”
The PARIS Study began officially in December of 2013, and over the next two years researchers will build a database of more than 1,000 African scholarship recipients by collecting contact information, inviting them to take an online survey and finally, conducting face to face or Skype interviews. Although there has been extensive research published on the effects of brain drain on developing nations, this study is unique as it focuses on discovering the root causes and factors that influence a graduate to return or not return to their native country.
This research is of particular interest for EARTH University, as the “go back, give back” principle is an integral part of our mission to form leaders of change in developing nations. Nico Evers, Director of the International Academic Relations Office (RAI) at EARTH, is participating in the study as part of a sub-group of academics in charge of developing a comprehensive alumni interview guide.
He says of his involvement, “I am particularly interested in investigating what factors have influenced our EARTH alumni to go back and give back. I think it is the entire educational model from the selection and admissions process all the way through graduation and beyond that plays a role. My personal research interest is in intercultural and global competencies. In the framework of the PARIS study I am interested in investigating how the developments of those competencies lead to a smooth transition and re-entry in students’ country of origin.”
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