Research and Results

Measuring success by impact.

At the Trans-Border Institute, classroom work is just the beginning. Participants in each of our seminar and certificate programs develop and carry out a collaborative or "hive-model" research project, where experience, contacts and local knowledge are used to explore and analyze their own societies. Seminar participants have so far collected hundreds of responses to two ongoing public opinion surveys, one on corruption, and the other on discrimination and violence against women.

They have produced more and higher quality results and in a shorter period of time than we ever could have hoped for using contract survey data takers or student researchers from abroad. TBI provides training in ethical and effective research methods, and offer guidance in research design and content unaffected by local political pressures and biases. Once data collection is complete, TBI facilitates analysis of the data, comparison with results from our other seminar sites, and publication in the local venues and formats where it is most likely to have an impact on public policy. At the end of this process, the results belong to the collective to do with as they see fit— they do not simply become another academic study with which to burnish our reputation as a research institute.

The real impact of our seminars, of course, extends far beyond any formal academic program. Participants in our seminars have begun to implement some of the ideas and specific campaigns developed in classroom exercises in their work; they have created new coalitions and forums for exchanging ideas; and most of them remain in regular contact with TBI. As we build greater institutional and financial support, TBI plans to implement a formal mentoring structure for graduates of our programs, so that we can partner them directly with leaders in their fields, and then train the best of each cohort to teach the seminars and certificate programs to the next generation of students, such that the programs become self-sustaining.