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Domain Dinner highlights global poverty solutions

Buffett Institute's new Global Poverty Research Lab showcases work from China to Africa

Child on a bike in Ghana

More than 10 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $2.00 per day, leading to malnutrition, high child mortality, illiteracy and obstacles to political participation. However, Northwestern University researchers are providing reasons for hope for those living in extreme poverty by working to better understand those challenges and develop solutions.

A team from the new Global Poverty Research Lab (GPRL) highlighted their latest projects during the recent Lawrence B. Dumas Domain Dinner.

"These events are a testimony to the larger work of Northwestern." - Provost Jonathan Holloway

The Global Poverty Research Lab was launched within the Buffett Institute for Global Studies in 2017. The lab addresses issues of poverty and growth in developing countries through a cluster-focused research approach. Clusters are organized both geographically and around sectors and fill three key niches: collection of long-term data to gather in-depth information about individuals, families, and their communities; economies of scope in research to identify more efficient methods for conducting field research; and multi-faceted interventions to enable observation of the interactions of different programs.

During the Jan. 30 Domain Dinner moderated by Bruce Carruthers, Director of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, GPRL faculty Seema Jayachandran, Dean Karlan, Nancy Qian, and Chris Udry presented research and applications of their work.

  • Seema Jayachandran, economics, discussed child health in poor environments in India and Africa, noting how gender and birth order significantly affect the rate at which children in India experience stunted growth.
  • Dean Karlan, finance, outlined the impact of psychological, social and religious interventions, as well as the strategic direction of the GPRL.
  • Nancy Qian, managerial economics and decision sciences, highlighted the causes and consequences of mass death and famine in authoritarian regimes, citing China’s 1959-1961 famine.
  • Chris Udry, economics, explained new approaches to improving the livelihoods of the very poor and how the GPRL is working to maximize the effectiveness of these programs through its work in Ghana. 

“The energy of the Domain Dinner was a wonderful welcome to campus,” said Karlan, co-director (with Udry) of the GPRL. “We can't wait to get building and hope to include many people from across Northwestern because global development challenges absolutely require cross-discipline thinking.”

Provost Jonathan Holloway echoed Karlan’s sentiments on the benefits of cross-disciplinarity at Northwestern, through events such as Domain Dinner: “These events are a testimony to the larger work of Northwestern,” Provost Jonathan Holloway said. “In a place where passion informs research and teaching, one of the best things about the University is that you’re doing work that’s about doing good.”

The Lawrence B. Dumas Domain Dinner was founded in 1998 to stimulate interdisciplinary faculty connections. In 20 years, the series has featured hundreds of faculty and welcomed thousands of guests on a range of topics, including recent events on music, water insecurity, developmental sciences and trust.

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