The DevLab@Duke is an applied learning environment that focuses on connecting social scientists at Duke who work in international development with the community of development practitioners to create rigorous programming, collect data, and conduct impact evaluations of development projects. DevLab’s Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for Development (MELD) program was established to promote graduate student engagement in the management and implementation of real-world international development research and evaluation projects. Participation in MELD is an excellent opportunity for students to develop marketable skills for a research career in international development.
The MELD Program works to extend Duke graduate students’ exposure and skills in international development research and evaluation through two components:
- Seminar: A three credit Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for Development (MELD) Seminar (PoliSci 890-6.01/Econ 890-03) will be offered in Fall 2019. This one-semester seminar targeted toward Duke master’s students across departments and programs (such as Political Science, Economics, Public Policy, Global Health, Nicholas School, etc.) is focused on the “real world” of international development monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL). MEL encompasses the set of activities whereby international development organizations do research to inform future programs and to evaluate the efficacy of their interventions. This is an applied course that covers the landscape of international development organizations (funders) as well as research organizations (implementers).
In addition to the actors involved in MEL for international development, this weekly seminar will cover the solicitation and proposal/budgeting process, practicalities of conducting training and fieldwork, and overviews of selected international development MEL projects (e.g., surveys, assessments, impact evaluations) – in other words, “winning the work and doing the work”. One can think of this as a professionalization course to be taken before or during more technical/methods courses at Duke.
- Internship: In coordination with the MELD Seminar, the MELD Internship Program will provide paid internships and training opportunities during the academic year for master’s students interested in a career in international development research and evaluation. In coordination with DevLab@Duke, the program will engage students in the management and implementation of real-world development research and evaluation, with the objective of strengthening both research and management skills.
MELD interns will enroll in the MELD Seminar and work up to two days per week on a designated DevLab project during Fall, Spring, and/or Summer sessions. These projects are funded research that flows through several pre-competed funding mechanisms to which DevLab is a party. All internship work is focused on building exposure, skills, and confidence in conducting real-world research and evaluation. Typical DevLab projects available for intern assignment include projects such as impact and performance evaluations, evidence reviews, assessments, surveys, and support for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems. MELD projects may focus on any number of sectors, including governance, education, environment, labor markets/economic growth, and health.
MELD students will receive quality training focused on research and evaluation, real-world international development work experience, and opportunities for professional networking. Students will deepen their understanding of project cycles, improve their capacity to generate and communicate policy-relevant research findings, and learn critical aspects of project management. Applications for MELD Internships will be evaluated on a rolling basis and as project opportunities become available.