I am an Associate Professor and Director of International Education at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Affiliated Faculty with the NYU Wilf Family Politics Department, NYU Abu Dhabi, the NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. My book, Schools for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan, recently won the $100,000 2017 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
My research focuses on the effects of conflict on education, the efforts of humanitarian organizations to mitigate these effects, and the relationship between education and political violence or peace. I am particularly interested in research that can be used to inform policy and that has the potential to help state and non-state actors create positive social change. I use diverse research methods including qualitative case studies and complex field experiments (also known as randomized controlled trials) that rely on both large-scale surveys and in-depth, qualitative interviews.
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 is available here. My research has also been published in Comparative Education Review, American Economic Journal—Applied, Current Issues in Comparative Education, and theNew York Times. Bloggers for the World Bank and The National Interest featured my work and it also appears on the Jameel-Poverty Action Lab website.
I have had research 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; awards total $8.4 million.