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Call for Expressions of Interest: Universities and Social Inequalities in the Global South

28 Jan 2019

Call for Expressions of Interest: Universities and Social Inequalities in the Global South

UNRISD invites expressions of interest from researchers to prepare papers that will feed into the development of a research proposal for a project on the relationship between universities and social inequalities in low- and middle-income countries.

With the persistent and rising inequalities of our time encompassing not only income and wealth but also inequalities across race, gender, ethnicity and geographic region, it is critical to reinvent, reimagine and strengthen a wide range of policies and institutions that can play a role in overcoming inequalities. This Call, and the subsequent research project to be developed, focuses on universities as one such institution.

The project proposal will focus on the role of universities in reinforcing or lessening social inequalities in low- and middle-income countries. It will explore the following questions: What potential does higher education have today to increase social mobility, reduce inequality and contribute to the advancement of society through the production of knowledge and skills? Are institutions of higher education contributing to inequality rather than equality, and if so, through what specific actions and mechanisms? How can the transformative potential of such institutions be fully harnessed for overcoming inequality?

Specifications of the present Call

The present Call seeks expressions of interest from researchers to prepare the following types of papers, based on existing research:
  1. Literature review or background research, particularly in relation to a region or country in the Global South.
  2. Case studies
    • exploring the ways different countries are filling the demand for higher education and the resulting impacts on inequality, looking specifically at student enrollment data in terms of socioeconomic status, race, gender, ethnicity and region, assessed quality of these institutions, and resulting employment opportunities;
    • of specific institutional contexts, which examine ways inequalities are perpetuated or minimized within university settings;
    • exploring the role and influence of elite actors in shaping education policy in the Global South;
    • documenting how universities engage directly with the issue of inequality, for example through their approach to their core activities (such as curriculum, programmes, admission policies), engagement with communities/stakeholders, and support for research or advocacy focused on inequality.

Selected proposals will be developed into papers that will:
  • feed into the development of a full project proposal on universities and social inequalities, which will be submitted for funding in 2019; and
  • provide evidence and analysis, especially from the Global South, which can be brought to bear on ongoing UN debates and policy processes, including implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Three papers will be commissioned in total, out of proposals submitted in response to this Call.

Papers may be single or co-authored.

Length of proposal in response
to this Call for Expressions of Interest:
500-800 words
Length of paper, if selected:10,000 words

  • 17 March 2019, 23:59 CET – New, extended deadline for submission of proposals
  • 1 April 2019 – Selected applicants notified
  • 1 July 2019 – First draft due
  • 1 September 2019 – Final draft due

Researcher competencies, experience and skill requirements

  • Post graduate degree in Economics, Political Science, Development Studies or other social science discipline (PhD desirable)
  • Experience in development policy research
  • Country expertise (Global South), thematic expertise (tertiary education, inequalities, social mobility, etc.)
  • Proven publication record
  • Solid methodological and research skills
  • Fluency in English
  • Ability to write clearly and concisely

UNRISD particularly welcomes expressions of interest from women, young researchers, and researchers from and based in developing countries.

Submission process

Please ensure that you have read the Call for Expressions of Interest in its entirety before completing the EOI Submission Form (also available at the bottom of the page).

All materials are available at www.unrisd.org/EOI-UnSi-2019.

Please then send the following via email to maggie.carter@un.org with the subject line “EOI Inequality submission” by 17 March 2019, 23:59 CET
  • the completed EOI Submission Form
  • full CV (including academic record and list of publications)
  • a sample of a recent single-authored piece of written work (published or unpublished) that is related to this research topic
  • the names and contact details of two referees

Due to limited staff resources, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

For further information, contact maggie.carter@un.org