International Development Speaker Series

RAND International Research and Analysis supports the International Development Speaker Series (IDSS) organized by doctoral students at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The series offers the opportunity for people interested in the field of international development to attend seminars by leading experts in the field.

Upcoming and Recent Speakers

  • Kenyan with cash, conducting a mobile banking transaction, photo by Scott Mainwaring/CC BY-SA 2.0

    IDSS Welcomes Shivani Siroya for Discussion of "Technology for the People"

    Feb 5, 2020

    Shivani Siroya is the founder and CEO of Tala, a financial technology company on a mission to build a financial system that works for everyone. She will be discussing how to make technology available to all, in a conversation with RAND's Samantha McBirney.

  • Young Indian man makes flower garlands for sale, photo by McKay Savage/CC BY 2.0

    IDSS Talk Explores Employment in India

    Jun 28, 2019

    Anthony P. D’Costa, eminent scholar in Global Studies and professor of economics at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, will explain why India is subject to the same pressures OECD countries face: jobless growth brought about by increasing investments in capital equipment, automation, and a growing reliance on high skilled workers and professionals.

  • Children in Benin watching TV, photo by by Arne Hoel, World Bank Photo Collection/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Agriculture Fishing and Forestry, Development, agriculture, food, processing

    IDSS Talk Explores Ways to Accelerate Poverty Reduction in Africa

    Jun 3, 2019

    Kathleen Beegle, lead economist in the World Bank Gender Group, looks beyond macroeconomic stability and growth to ask what more could be done and where should policy makers focus to speed up poverty reduction.

  • Bhutan prayer flags, photo by by Christopher Prentiss Michel/CC BY 2.0

    Examining the Gross National Happiness Index

    May 30, 2019

    IDSS speakers Doreen Liberto and Kinga Tshering explored how the Gross National Happiness (GNH) index works, how Bhutan and California have applied GNH principles, and challenges and opportunities that GNH poses for development.

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un hold a signing ceremony at the conclusion of their summit at the Capella Hotel on the island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018

    IDSS Talk Explores North Korea's Shift to Diplomacy in 2018

    May 20, 2019

    Naoko Aoki, RAND's Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, will share her insights into North Korea's dramatically changed policy posture and diplomatic efforts in 2018. In this International Development Speaker Series, she will examine the actions and statements by the United States and North Korea to determine what might come next.

  • Indian girls work on a tablet provided by Pratham USA

    IDSS Talk Explores Experiments with Open Learning Beyond Schools

    Apr 18, 2019

    Dr. Madhav Chavan, co-founder and president of Pratham USA, will discuss his organization's randomized controlled trial, in which they provided 800 Indian villages with tablet computers pre-loaded with educational software for grades 6-8 — but no teachers — for extracurricular learning.

  • Federal elections in Mexico, 2012

    IDSS-CLASP Lecture Explores What's at Stake in Mexico’s 2018 Election

    May 18, 2018

    Mexicans will elect a new president, as well as 128 Senators and 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies, on July 1, 2018. Enrique Andrade González, president of the National Commission for the Vote of Mexicans Resident Abroad at the National Electoral Institute, discussed the outlook and considerations for this pivotal event in Mexico.

  • USAID supported a fire safety class for garment workers in Bangladesh

    Tom Ling Shares Evaluation Insights in IDSS Talk

    Apr 26, 2018

    RAND Europe's Head of Evaluation, Tom Ling, shared insights from his more than 20 years of experience delivering robust and practical insights for partners such as DFID, UNICEF, Save the Children, the UK National Health Service (NHS) and the European Commission. He spoke about the delivery of high quality embedded evaluations that can be utilized to provide ongoing improvement to services.

  • Pallets of food, water and supplies staged to be delivered in Haiti, helicopter, flight line, USAID, earthquake

    Speaker Discusses Communicating National Image Through Development and Diplomacy

    Mar 8, 2018

    James Pamment, head of the Department of Strategic Communication at Lund University in Sweden, presented findings from his forthcoming book, which examines the relationship between soft power, public diplomacy, development communication, and nation brands.

  • Women at the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI): 2015 West Africa Regional Conference

    IREX President Discusses Changing Landscape of International Development

    Feb 7, 2018

    In the first IDSS talk of 2018, Kristin Lord discussed the changing international development landscape and how international development NGOs like IREX, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, are adapting. She also discussed the strategic consequences of the global youth boom, a major IREX priority.

  • Indonesian schoolchildren

    CAPP Board Member Shares Thoughts on Innovation in Indonesia

    Nov 10, 2017

    As part of the International Development Speaker Series, former Indonesian trade minister Mari Pangestu discussed opportunities and challenges for Indonesia as it seeks to be more innovative and grow its creative economy. Pangestu is a member of the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy Advisory Board.

  • An oasis in the desert: Greenhouse farming in Turkwell, Turkana farming vegetables using drip irrigation

    IDSS Partners with CMEPP on Sustainable Development, Agriculture Talk

    Nov 8, 2017

    Turki Faisal Al Rasheed discussed transitioning the U.S.-Saudi relationship to one focused on sustainable development, and Joel Cuello discussed the engineering of sustainable biological and agricultural systems. Both are professors at the University of Arizona's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

  • An Oxfam member of staff helps to carry one family's newly received non-food items home in UN House, Juba

    IDSS Welcomes Discussion of Outcome Indicators with Oxfam Head of Program Quality

    Nov 7, 2017

    Oxfam GB's Claire Hutchings discussed her organization's experience implementing a Global Performance Framework, an alternative approach to operating global outcome indicators, and how it helped Oxfam understand program impact and organizational performance.

  • IDSS Talk Examines Vertical Integration of Legal Markets by Organized Crime

    Oct 30, 2017

    Columbia University's Edgardo Buscaglia found judicial system failures lead to armed organized crime groups providing more “alternative dispute resolution mechanisms,” which is in turn linked to a greater diversification of criminal markets and a greater vertical integration of legal markets supporting the criminal markets. He will share these findings during his October 30 IDSS talk.

  • Speaker Explains How World Bank Applies Behavioral Science in Development Policy

    Oct 11, 2017

    The World Bank has been experimenting on how to bring behavioral science ideas into development policy design in a systematic way. Renos Vakis discussed the lessons to-date, some of the emerging evidence, and the opportunities ahead to institutionalize and scale up this work.

  • Woman and baby at water pump

    IDSS Panelists Discuss Translating International Development Research into Impact

    Sep 21, 2017

    A panel of RAND experts kicked off the 2017-18 International Development Speaker Series by exploring how they and their colleagues have managed to translate their work into sustained impact in complex international environments.

  • Students in an Indian school

    IDSS Speaker Presents Results of Tech-Enabled After-School Program in India

    May 19, 2017

    UCSD associate professor Karthik Muralidharan discussed his analysis of an after-school program in urban middle schools in India. The program individually customized educational content to match the level and rate of progress of each student and led to large increases in test scores, especially among academically-weaker students.

  • IDSS Talk Explores Intersection of Temperature Shocks, Climate Change, and Birth Rates

    Mar 24, 2017

    Longitudinal research by Tulane economist Alan Barreca found that days above 80°F cause a large decline in birth rates 8 to 10 months later. In his talk he presented novel evidence that hot weather harms fertility via reproductive health as opposed to sexual activity.

  • Scattered pile of Indian rupee banknotes

    Former IMF Chief Economist Discusses Phasing out Paper Money

    Mar 13, 2017

    In his IDSS talk on March 13, Harvard's Kenneth Rogoff discussed his plan for phasing out most paper money and addressed the challenges such a transition would pose. He contrasted his plan with the recent real-world case of India, which retired its five-hundred-rupee and thousand-rupee notes as legal tender.

  • Colombian secondary school students in classroom

    IDSS Speakers Ask, Can Educational Vouchers Pay for Themselves?

    Feb 2, 2017

    A large-scale government program in Colombia used a lottery to distribute scholarships for private secondary school to socially disadvantaged students. Michael Kremer and Juan Saavedra presented results from their recent work analyzing the effect of this program on schooling and work outcomes.

  • Women and children waiting in front of the Bolemba health centre in Central African Republic

    UNICEF Chief of Health Discusses Global Health at IDSS Talk

    Jan 31, 2017

    Global health emphasizes global interdependence both in determinants and outcomes of health. UNICEF's Dr. Stephan Peterson used the lenses of developmental, sustainability and health security to examine why global action is in the interest of national health.

  • Developing Countries, Townhouse, Photography, No People, Shack, Stained, Water Tower - Storage Tank, Drying Rack, Clothesline, Color Image, Brownstone, Brick, Hut, Poverty, Togetherness, Chaos, Fragility, Messy, Dirty, Heap, Violence, Crime, Urban Scene, Outdoors, Horizontal, Distraught, Manual Worker, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Unripe, Tree, Day, Mountain, Narcotic, House, Slum

    Author Discusses Gangster Warlords at IDSS Talk

    Jan 23, 2017

    At this first IDSS talk of 2017, author Ioan Grillo discussed his book Gangster Warlords, the first definitive account of the crime wars unleashing a humanitarian disaster in Central and South America and the Caribbean, regions largely abandoned by the U.S. after the Cold War.

  • Final Superfoods Contest Features Chefs and Street Food Vendors

    Dec 2, 2016

    At the grand finale of the Superfoods Cookery Contest in Kampala, Uganda, professional chefs and local street food vendors developed recipes using millet and sorghum that would appeal to both upper- and lower-income urban consumers.

  • April 2016 Superfoods Contest

    Creativity Reigns in Contest for Best Millet and Sorghum Recipes

    May 5, 2016

    At the second Superfoods Cookery Contest in Kampala, Uganda, professional chefs, aspiring innovators, foodies and students showed continued creativity in developing recipes using millet and sorghum.

  • First patient admitted to USAID-supported ETU Sierra Leone

    IMC's Adam Levine Discusses Ebola Response, Ongoing Efforts

    Mar 4, 2016

    Dr. Adam Levine, primary investigator of the International Medical Corps' Ebola Research Team, visited Pardee RAND to discuss his organization's efforts in West Africa, including a scoring system he and colleagues developed to triage Ebola patients.

History of the Series

IDSS provides a forum for visiting policymakers, scholars and development practitioners to stimulate research ideas and dialogue on international development-related topics.

Created in 2008 by three doctoral fellows at the Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS), the series alternates between panels of RAND researchers and external speakers.

Recent speakers include Dr. Francis Fukuyama, political scientist and best-selling author; Dr. Edward Miguel, economist and author; Dr. Esther Duflo, Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, and Dr. Joseph Nye, former Dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Our audience consists of PRGS students as well as RAND researchers with an interest in international development. The great majority of the audience has some form of training in economics or statistics.

The speaker series are typically hosted at the RAND Corporation headquarters in Santa Monica during a weekday lunch hour, although alternative time slots are used. The program lasts approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. At the beginning of the presentation, an IDSS member or a RAND researcher introduces our guest speaker. The speaker then delivers a 45-55 minutes presentation followed by 15 to 20 minutes of audience Q&A.

How to get involved?

IDSS is open to anyone interested in development topics. More information about how to attend the seminars or recommend upcoming speakers can be found on the IDSS Mailing List page.