More About My Work
Before coming to NYU, I was an Associate Research Scholar/Post-Doctoral Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies (SIWPS) and taught at Teachers College. I received my PhD in Comparative Education and Political Science from Columbia University, Master's in Educational Administration/International Education from Harvard, and a BA in English Literature from Oberlin College.
I am currently working on three projects: assessing the learning outcomes and sustainability of community-based schools in Afghanistan as they transition from NGOs to government administration; understanding how youth aspirations and education affect youth participation in public life in Pakistan and Kenya; and learning how boosting community engagement affects performance in community-based schools in remote Afghan villages.
The most optimistic findings of my recent work in Afghanistan come from my study of community-based schools in Ghor Province (with Leigh Linden). We find that bringing education to remote Afghan villages eliminates gender disparity in enrollment between girls and boys. In addition, these children show significant academic achievement once they are there. To read more about this research, please see “Bringing Education to Afghan Girls: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Afghanistan.”
My book, Schools for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan, published by Columbia University Press and is available here. My research has also been published in Comparative Education Review, American Economic Journal—Applied, Current Issues in Comparative Education, and the New York Times. Bloggers for the World Bank and The National Interest have featured my work, and it also appears on the Jameel-Poverty Action Lab website.
My research has been funded by the Spencer Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Weikart Family Foundation, the Danish International Aid Agency, and USAID with awards totaling $4 million.
I love my job: my students, colleagues, research, teaching, and academic life. I find nearly every aspect of my work thrilling and exhilarating: the logic of research design, the inspiration from students and colleagues, the freedom to expand the horizons of my mind. I hope to help expand horizons for many around me—from girls and boys living in remote villages in Afghanistan, to students (undergrad, master's, doctoral) who want to work abroad but are not quite sure exactly how to contribute to the complex organizations, politics, and state bureaucracies they see around them .
My Road to International Education
Before and parallel to becoming an academic, I was an aid worker and lived and/or worked in many different countries including: Armenia, Bosnia, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, and Mali. As many who work abroad do, I attribute my passion for international work and understanding social phenomena to a fine liberal arts education (in my case, Oberlin College) and to time spent studying abroad- for me, living in France, with a French family and immersed in life there. I see in my students how similar foreign experiences often trigger a curiosity about the world and an awareness of other ways of life that increase one’s empathy with those who may have at first seemed profoundly different.