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Building Institutional Research Capacity

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As part of its endeavor to build research capacity in some of the least developed countries of the world, GDN partnered with three educational establishments in Bhutan, Ethiopia and Cambodia and Vietnam. Through a sustainable approach, the program fostered long-term, high-quality research that can feed into sustainable development policy and practice.

In partnership with the Royal University of Bhutan’s Institute for Gross National Happiness studies, GDN engaged academic staff and students to help improve their research skills. GDN’s support included funding, mentoring, project management and evaluation support. Since its implementation in Bhutan, the program has developed research leadership through exchange visits to centers of excellence, provided research training to staff, set up research centers across all eight colleges of the university and fostered student engagement in research.

The most significant impact of this effort was to revive, improve and develop local research training opportunities that were previously dormant or facing sustainability challenges.  In fact, it helped the university to revive a number of international research MOUs with top institutions in Asia, set up a funding scheme that provides new incentives and academic support to young lecturers to keep up with their research and build a research agenda of their own, including introducing 4,000 students to basic research concepts and practice.

The coordinator of the team at the Institute for Gross National Happiness Studies in Bhutan, Jamba Tobden, “We are developing the capacity for research leadership, developing research centers, developing the capacity of faculty to do research and an enthusiasm for research among students.” In Bhutan, research is now mandatory for all faculty members and 40% of their performance will hinge on the research they carry out. The university has secured financial resources and a clear mandate to carry out their research work in the future, well after GDN funding finishes.

The program was also implemented in Cambodia, Vietnam and Ethiopia. In the latter, Haramaya University secured internal funding for small field work grants, thus institutionalizing their commitment to research.


Building Institutional Research Capacity in Least Developed Countries,” supported by the International Development Research Center (IDRC), from January 2014 - March 2017.

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