Gina Chowa, PhD, a Center for Social Development (CSD) faculty director for Global Asset Building, launched an international research center October 11-13 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she’s an associate professor.
The Global Social Development Innovations (GSDI) research center will focus on developing community-driven initiatives that address economic security, workforce development, financial inclusion, social protection, health and education. It already has initiatives underway in Ghana, India, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia, according to its website.
“Gina is laying out a program of work that recognizes the fundamental importance of social development, and that innovations have to be designed and tested,” says CSD Director Michael Sherraden, PhD. “Her global vision is essential in the 21st century.”
Sherraden, who was Chowa’s academic adviser at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, delivered the inaugural lecture at GSDI’s launch event. The three-day event included a series of lectures and panel discussions.
For Chowa, GSDI will be successful if it creates real changes in people’s lives. “We’re not just bringing all of these people together to collect data and research for the sake of it,” Chowa told Contact Magazine, at UNC’s School of Social Work. “We want to bring about social change. Our mission is to collaborate and build capacity for our partners and for scholars so that we’re improving opportunities for rolling out services, based on evidence, to ultra-poor people who need them.”
In addition to working with partners in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, GSDI is building an online data hub to share its findings with researchers and practitioners around the world. GSDI already has research affiliations with CSRD Institute of Social Work in India and the Centre for Social Development in Africa at the University of Johannesburg, one of CSD’s sister centers.