Erik Wibbels is the Robert O. Keohane professor of political science and the Co-Director of DevLab@Duke at Duke University. His research focuses on development, redistribution and political geography and has been published by Cambridge University Press and top journals. Current major projects include combining surveys and satellite imagery to identify slums in India and understand the conditions under which residents achieve property rights and attract public services; a USAID-funded effort to integrate machine learning, forecasting and rigorous field interventions to early-identify government crackdowns on civil society; a long-term impact evaluation of a large, district-level governance program in Ghana aimed at improving accountability; and a series of papers on how the geographic emergence and spread of state authority impact long-term economic development at the local level.
In his role with DevLab@Duke, Wibbels also works with governments, international donors, and their implementing partners to improve the design and evaluation of development programming and engage in policy-relevant research around the world. He regularly organizes and participates in conferences and workshops that bring together policy experts and academics, including a recent workshop exploring the use of machine learning in international development programming. He recently co-edited Decentralized Governance and Accountability: Academic Research and the Future of Donor Programming with Cambridge University Press on behalf of USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance.
As a part of its educational mission, DevLab@Duke works with Post-Doctoral Fellows, PhD, MA and undergraduate students through a combination of applied research, internships and courses. Wibbels is currently working with students on two large field experiments on governance and civil society in Cambodia, a re-boot of the World Bank’s data collection on its community-driven development projects, an effort with the government of Nepal to understand why some communities succeed or fail in the management of community projects,and research with Te Conecta and RTI International on how the deportation of Guatemalans from the U.S. impacts households and communities on both sides of the border. DevLab@Duke regularly participates in Bass Connections, a campus-wide effort to bridge research and the classroom by bringing together interdisciplinary teams of faculty, graduate students and undergraduates on research projects.