Introduction

Hi everyone! My name is Emily Mahoney and I’m a rising senior at W&M, majoring in Economics and Public Health.  This summer, I’m conducting preliminary research for my honors thesis with support from the Charles Center.

After experiences working with both MANOS, a small community development project, and AidData, a large-scale initiative that tracks development finance globally, I’ve felt an urge to reconcile in my mind these two completely different ways of thinking about international development. The former project focuses on development practice, while the latter promotes development policy and research.

These experiences have shown me that all three mechanisms—research, policy, and practice—are critical for the efficacy of the development field as a whole. But rather than operating cohesively, these mechanisms are at times disparate and independent entities. And as such, despite a common and compelling vision for ending poverty worldwide, international development efforts are frequently disjointed and driven solely by good intentions.

Personally, I have always found this wildly discouraging. And yet, perhaps due to my inexperience or to my absurd inclinations for both cynicism and idealism, but I have this overwhelming sense that perhaps things could be different. I decided to devote my honors thesis to understanding the current interactions between policy, research, and practice in international development. Stay tuned as I keep you updated on my preliminary research questions, findings, and my travels to Uganda!