As part of the required curriculum at the Brandt School, every student must participate in a project group. This semester, 12 colleagues and I worked under Dr. Aragón on a research project called Nopoor.
Established in 2012, Nopoor is a research project funded by the European Union’s 7th Research Framework Program (FP7). Researchers from all over the world conduct studies in 21 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. The goal of the project is to recommend policy solutions, based on scientific evidence, to eradicate poverty. Because the dimensions of poverty are multifaceted, the project seeks to find solutions by analyzing the impact of different social and economic factors on poverty, such as: the impact of international aid, globalization, international migration, labor markets, education, social projection and political systems. Since the project is ending this year, our main focus is to gather and disseminate the final policy implications to the European Commission.
The Nopoor project is divided into 12 departments, or work packages as the project calls them, and our group is working under Dr. Aragón’s department, Work Package 10: Policy Recommendations. In just a short period of time, my group has completed many assignments for Nopoor. We created a “conference flash” for the Mexico Conference, transcribing, condensing and highlighting the major topics discussed at the conference and producing a small brochure, which was distributed amongst the Nopoor team. Our larger projects consists of drafting three deliverables: 10.3 Policy Recommendations with a Comparative Analysis, 10.4 Summary of Discussions at the Stakeholder Conferences and 10.5 Final Policy Report to the European Commission. For these three final reports, we have screened all 120 research projects, emphasizing the important stakeholder insights, key findings and policy recommendations, which should be presented to the European Commission. In addition to the deliverables, we are also writing policy briefs based on Nopoor research papers and conducting a stakeholder analysis to determine which vital actors should be present at the final conference in Brussels.
In November 2016, our project group had the opportunity of attending a Nopoor Steering Committee debriefing at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg, Germany. During our visit, we met with the Nopoor project leaders and researchers from the French Research Institute for Development in Paris (IRD, France), the Vienna Institute for Urban Sustainability (OIKODROM, Austria) and the Institute for World Economy in Kiel (IFW, Germany). Our team prepared two presentations, one for the head project manager of Nopoor and the other for a Nopoor researcher from Kiel, regarding our ideas on how to condense, filter, and organize the information in the deliverables, as well as link the policy implications to other EU projects to emphasize their significance. We also met with stakeholders from OIKODROM, who gave us insights on how to disseminate the information, through documentaries, brochures and short videos, and how to construct a stakeholder analysis.
This experience has been both unique and rewarding. As one of two project managers of the team, I spent the semester creating agendas, fostering communication between my team members and Nopoor contacts, leading weekly meetings, updating the team on tasks and deadlines and actively ensuring that all assignments have been completed thoroughly and on time. Although it has been challenging at times, we have enhanced our abilities to work in diverse environments, expanded our professional networks and gained more practical skills, which can be added to our resumes. Our efforts even resulted in a paid internship offer from the Nopoor project manager in Paris, France.
When deciding which project group to join, the two most important criteria for me were the project’s focus and the network I would gain. Although it has been a heavy workload, this project group has exceeded my expectations. I have bonded with classmates I have not worked closely with previously, I have contributed to drafting reports that were vital for the organization and I have broadened my network, working with scholars from research institutes in Germany, Austria and France.
If interested, you can find more information on the Nopoor project at http://www.nopoor.eu.