Research and Scholarship

Georgetown scholars explore global human development issues through diverse and interdisciplinary research and scholarship – spanning foreign service, public policy, health, law and business disciplines. Below is a sample of the broad research and scholarship activities occurring across the entire university.

More information on faculty research and scholarship in global human development can be found in faculty profiles, as well as Georgetown's program and department websites. To provide feedback on additional research projects to include on this website, please email

Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Fellowship Program

Georgetown University Law Center 

The Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Fellowship Program was founded in 1993 in order to train women's human rights lawyers from Africa who are committed to returning home in order to advance the status of women and girls in their own countries throughout their careers. Over 80 women's human rights advocates from 14 countries have participated in the program, and we hope to include Fellows from even more countries in the future.

 The entire LAWA Fellowship Program is approximately 14 months long, after which the LAWA Fellows return home to continue advocating for women's rights in their own countries. LAWA Fellows earn a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree at Georgetown with an emphasis on international women's human rights, and complete a major graduate research on a significant women's rights issue in their home countries. After graduation, the LAWA Fellows then have an opportunity to engage in challenging work assignments for three months at various public interest organizations to learn about different advocacy strategies to advance women's human rights.

Throughout their time in Washington, D.C., the LAWA Fellows also participate in bi-weekly seminars and professional development training with their American counterparts in the Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program, where they discuss key women's rights issues with prominent government and public interest leaders.

Each spring, the LAWA Fellows hold a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to share their research and experiences with members of Congress, their staff, members of non-governmental organizations, and other interested members of the public. Read more about past congressional briefings, and view video coverage, here.

The relationships that the LAWA attorneys build with their American contacts and government leaders, together with their legal training and enhanced computer research and technology skills, provide the ability to draw upon vastly expanded legal networks and resources upon their return to Africa.

Self-Employed Women’s Association

Raj Desai and Shareen Joshi, School of Foreign Service

In India, the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) is an organization of poor, self-employed female workers who earn a living through their own labor or small business. Although such groups are regarded as effective instruments of development, their actual impact is unclear. This project studied the impact of self-help groups on the lives of participants, as well as the spillover impacts for broader village communities. This knowledge is useful for NGOs who wish to improve services and delivery systems, as well as state and local governments who are incorporating greater community-based initiatives into the design of antipoverty programs. Most recently, the Indian Ministry for Rural Development began “scaling up” the smaller-scale self-help group program, in all rural areas across the 7 poorest states, through the "National Rural Livelihoods Mission." These village-based groups are being used as institutional platforms by which rural residents can demand greater accountability from local officials and service providers. Learn more about SEWA and Georgetown's work through the following materials:

Berkley Center Interview Series, “A Discussion with Ela Bhatt, Founder, Self- Employed Women's Association (SEWA)”

Remarks by President John J. DeGioia, Keynote Address at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry





Urban Refugees and Displaced Persons

Institute for the Study of International Migration

Cities are quickly becoming the main sites of humanitarian response. This project seeks to understand the phenomenon of refugees in urban settings in a comparative examination of their experiences as contrasted with those of other urban residents. It builds on research begun at Georgetown University on Iraqi refugees in Amman and Cairo, funded by the Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration in the US State Department as an exploratory study. The proposed project seeks to replicate the study in other locations and with other populations, examining the access of urban refugees and internally displaced persons (in comparison with local hosts) to health care, education, livelihoods, shelter, food security and physical security. These are fundamentals of human security, as defined by the Commission on Human Security, co-chaired by Sadako Ogata and Amartya Sen. Learn more.

Read prior reports on urban refugees in Amman and Cairo, conducted by Georgetown scholars in the Institute for the Study of International Migration.

Practitioner Interview Guide Highlighting Ethical Issues and Human Rights

Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

This project builds on and deepens analysis of the Berkley Center Interview Series (over 200 interviews currently available online). Acting as a bridge between prior work on religion and development and future work that will carry this analysis to address sensitive issues around human rights, gender relations, and the role of the family in the process of modernization, this work is, (1) assessing the methodology and findings from the practitioner interview series, (2) analyzing existing interviews to highlight areas meriting further analysis, and (3) developing a plan for expansion of the work in the future. Learn more about the Berkley Center Interview Series.

Ethics and Development Teaching Cases

Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

Case discussions encourage students and faculty to address complex ethical issues arising in relation to development challenges worldwide. With support from the Global Human Development Initiative, Georgetown scholars and students are expanding and enriching our portfolio of teaching cases for use in curricula across the university. Teaching cases explore ethical dimensions of topics such as female genital cutting, human trafficking, country strategies to combat corruption, and religious community involvement with extractive industries, to name a few. Current work is also integrating a broader set of teaching materials into these cases, such as videos, film guides, and personal stories.

McCourt Policy in Practice

McCourt School of Public Policy

The McCourt School of Public Policy (MSPP) at Georgetown University values service, student action, and social responsibility. McCourt Policy in Practice, formerly known as Project Honduras, is a sustainable service-learning project in Roatán, Honduras created to connect MSPP students to an impoverished area and give them the opportunity to use their policy skills to affect change within that community.

Since 2007, MSPP students have worked to develop a relationship with the residents of Roatán, Honduras. Students travel to the island over Spring Break to implement ongoing development projects. In addition, smaller groups of students visit the community during the summer and fall to maintain contact with the community and support McCourt Policy in Practice initiatives.

For additional news and information, including how you can support this program, see the McCourt Policy in Practice website.

gui2de: Georgetown University Initiative on Innovation, Development and Evaluation

Department of Economics and McCourt School of Public Policy

Gui2de conducts empirical field-based research to assess the impact and effectiveness of interventions and policies aimed at empowering individuals in developing countries to improve their lives. Major research themes include governance and accountability, the promotion of agency in the delivery of health, education, and other public services, the role of mobile technology in development, and financial development and integration. Learn more about current projects on the gui2de website.