On September 30, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s three-year project to process the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program Records will officially come to an end. The project, supported by the Ford Foundation, met several goals. It supported the processing of approximately 500 linear feet of paper records and 3.6 terabytes of digital records, which are now open to researchers at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. It facilitated the development of necessary infrastructure for accessioning, processing, and providing access to the rapidly increasing amount of born-digital materials in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s archival collections. Finally, to encourage scholarly engagement with the Ford IFP Records, it permitted RBML to host a group of six international visiting scholars who conducted extensive research using the collection over the summer and presented their findings in a symposium titled “Education, Development, and Social Justice: the Legacy of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program.”
A complete video recording of the first panel of the symposium is now available on Columbia University’s YouTube channel, and video of the second panel is forthcoming. Sean Quimby, Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, welcomed attendees. Joan Dassin, IFP’s Executive Director and Professor of International Education and Development at Brandeis University, opened the event with a keynote address reflecting on the experience of designing and administering IFP, as well as preserving its records. Next, Rajika Bhandari of the Institute of International Education moderated the symposium’s first panel, “Global Perspectives.” Patricia L. Rosenfield of the Rockefeller Archive Center moderated its second panel, “Local Contexts,” and Kay Lee of the Ford Foundation gave closing remarks.
The Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program supported graduate studies for individuals in 23 developing countries between 2001 and 2013. Its model prioritized social commitment over traditional selection criteria. In addition to academic and leadership potential, Fellows were selected from groups and communities who lack systematic access to higher education. These groups included women, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and people from rural areas, as well as other groups identified as marginalized within specific regional and national contexts. According to the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program Website—which is no longer live, but was archived as part of RBML’s processing project –these selection criteria also allowed IFP to function as an experiment through which the international community could “derive lessons about educational access, academic excellence and the ways in which equity-based scholarship programs could have a positive impact on individuals, institutions and communities.” As such, extensive program evaluation was carried out throughout IFP’s duration. A longitudinal Alumni Tracking Study carried out by the Institute of International Education will also continue until 2023, in order to more thoroughly document and study the program’s long-term effects on its alumni and their communities.
The experimental nature of IFP, as well as the thoroughness with which it was documented, gives the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program Records multifaceted and enduring research value. As the visiting scholars demonstrated, the Ford IFP Records contain information useful to researchers working within a broad range of disciplines and approaches. Some of the records’ applications are highlighted below, in video clips from the symposium.
Wim de Jong, a Dutch historian and political philosopher at Radboud University Nijmegen, specializes in the history of democracy and its connection to education. His presentation, “Between Global and Local: The International Fellowships Program Archives and the Training of Social Justice Leaders (2001-2013)” examined IFP’s work to define leadership and social justice as universally applicable concepts, and its relationship to the structure and approach of IFP overall.
Budi Waluyo, an IFP Indonesia alumnus and Ph.D. candidate in International and Comparative Education at Lehigh University, specializes in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). He presented “Measuring National Community Development Returns from International Scholarship Programs: A Case Study of the International Fellowships Program.” This presentation analyzed the impact of IFP through the theoretical frameworks of Human Capital, Social Capital Renewal, and Cultural Capital, using data sets from the Ford IFP Records.
Rajendran T. Govender, an IFP South Africa alumnus, is the director of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Department of Arts and Culture. In “From Dark to Enlightened Continent: An Analytical Study of the Research of the Ford Foundation IFP Africa Alumni from 2001 to 2013,” he presented the results of a quantitative and qualitative analysis of African and Middle Eastern IFP alumni. Govender’s quantitative data sample was gathered from the Ford IFP Records, and his qualitative data was gathered through a survey distributed to the same alumni.
Oluwafunmilayo Para-Mallam is an IFP Nigeria alumna and a professor of gender and development at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Nigeria. Her presentation, “Gender-Based Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Integrative Review,” analyzed studies related to gender-based violence conducted by IFP alumni from sub-Saharan Africa. Through this analysis, she identified strategies for reducing gender-based violence from those studies which are applicable to the current Nigerian context.
Nagah Sayed-Ahmed, an IFP Egypt alumna, is an independent social science researcher and activist who studies the relationship between modernity and political Islam in Egypt. Her presentation, “Ford Foundation IFP Impact on Social Justice: Some Evidence from Egypt,” examined the impact of IFP’s emphasis on social justice leadership on Egyptian IFP alumni.
The final presentation in the symposium was given by Tran Nu Mai Thy, an IFP Vietnam and Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs alumna. Tran analyzed theses by IFP Vietnam alumni from the Ford IFP Records for evidence of the relationship between alumni scholarship and the program’s vision. She also identified information about how these theses, which very often incorporated local case studies, impacted their authors’ communities.
Submitted by Celeste Brewer, Ford IFP Project Archivist