Part-time Democracy Fellow, Research and Policy

Institute of International Education - USAID Democracy Fellows and Grants Program
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Nov 21

Position description

The Institute of International Education (IIE) seeks applications from leading academic experts in experimental approaches to studying comparative politics and democratization for a part-time Democracy Fellow position to be based in USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance (DRG Center) in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA). The part-time Democracy Fellow for Research and Policy will provide support to USAID on developing its annual DRG Learning Agenda, designing research projects (impact evaluations, surveys, and others), and advocating for evidence-based decision-making with policy makers and other senior officials. The work will be carried out through ad hoc consultations, review of documents, participation in phone calls, and both domestic and international travel.

The part-time Fellow will be hired as an IIE consultant with a detailed scope of work and deliverables. The Fellow will work between 5 and 10 days per quarter, i.e., at an 8 – 15 percent level of effort (LOE). The appointment is for twelve (12) months. Extension of the fellowship would be contingent on continued technical needs and available funding. The proposed start date for the fellowship is January 2018.


The DRG Center’s Learning Division was established in response to the National Research Council’s report, Improving Democracy Assistance: Building Knowledge through Evaluation. The report recommended that USAID become a learning organization that prioritizes evidence-based decision-making. When the DRG Center was launched in 2012, its Learning Division was charged with elevating rigorous research and knowledge management in the DRG Sector and incorporating new discoveries into DRG programs and policies.

The Learning Division aligns DRG Center research and evaluation activities with four priority development objectives: (1) strengthening participation and inclusion; (2) improving transparency and accountability; (3) protecting human rights; and (4) promoting cross-sectoral reliance upon DRG interventions to enhance outcomes in other sectors (e.g. health, education). The Learning Division generates new evidence and curates lessons from recent social science research that speaks to important questions under each of these four objectives. Learning Division products inform USAID DRG projects and strategic planning with valid evidence based on evaluations of DRG interventions, survey data analysis, and original academic research.

The cutting-edge research that the Learning Division sponsors or conducts is useful at every point of programming. In the problem identification phase, social science evidence helps USAID officers challenge assumptions underlying DRG programs. In the planning phase, impact evaluations of past programs can help USAID officers redress poor outcomes in future interventions. In the evaluation phase, cutting-edge research can push the boundaries of what we trust to work in the field and promote international communities of practice.

With nearly $2 billion dedicated annually to programs to improve democracy, human rights, and governance in over 80 countries, research to improve – and evaluation to assess – the effectiveness of these USAID projects are imperative. The DRG Center and its Learning Division promote evidence-based policy and programming in the DRG sector. The Learning Division’s portfolio of active or completed impact evaluations demonstrate that impact evaluations in the DRG sector are viable and fill a critical knowledge gap in the development sector.

For examples of past research projects conducted under the DFG, please see

For more on the DRG Center and Learning Division activities, see

Duties and Responsibilities

The part-time Democracy Fellow for Research and Policy will participate in some or all of the following tasks, based on availability and interest, and in accordance with the written scope of work:

  1. Based on the current state of research in the outcome areas and on an understanding of USAID DRG priorities, assist USAID/DRG in developing a learning agenda for the outcome area of focus.
  2. Provide input to teams engaged in the design, implementation, analysis and reporting of DRG project impact evaluations or other research projects. This work may require travel to USAID field missions to provide advice in designing evaluable DRG projects and/or rigorous impact evaluations for such projects using experimental or quasi-experimental designs.
  3. Prepare or advise on the design of comparative analyses or systematic reviews that analyze findings of USAID-supported impact evaluations, as well as relevant research from other academic or public policy sources.
  4. Contribute to organizing and conducting Evidence Summits as well as synthesizing and communicating Evidence Summit results. 
  5. Develop and implement training modules to be delivered to USAID DRG officers and other USG employees on current research findings and methods of inquiry broadly applicable to DRG practice areas.


  • Doctoral degree in political science or other relevant social science and five or more years of experience in experimental research in developing or transitional countries. 
  • The applicant must have five or more publications in peer-reviewed journals or book chapters dated within the last five years on topics closely related to the kinds of issues the DRG Center works on. Publication of a sole-authored book closely related to the proposed position within the last five years is also deemed to satisfy this condition. 
  • Knowledge of donor-assisted efforts to promote improvements in democracy, human rights and/or governance in developing and transitional countries is preferred.
  • Experience in developing/transitional countries, i.e., living and working in a developing country, either for field research, short-term assignments or long-term residential postings is preferred.
  • Previous policy work and experience advocating for evidence-based policy is preferred.
  • Strong familiarity in the literature of comparative politics is preferred.
  • Working proficiency in a foreign language is preferred.

Supervision and Guidance

The Fellow will serve as a part-time member of the Learning Division of the DRG Center and will be managed on a day-to-day basis by the Division Chief. The Fellow is expected to exercise the highest degree of individual initiative, resourcefulness, responsibility, judgement, and scholarly authority consonant with the overall policy and procedural framework of USAID.

The Fellow will be a consultant of IIE and will report for administrative purposes to the Director of the Democracy Fellows and Grants (DFG) Program.

The appointment is for a total of approximately 20 to 40 days (including travel days) over the course of twelve (12) months (8 – 15 percent LOE). Extension of the fellowship would be contingent on continued technical needs, available funding, and performance. 


The daily rate for the part-time Fellow will be commensurate with the candidate’s salary/rate history

Application instructions

*Please be sure to indicate that you saw this position on*

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