Academics Stand Against Poverty
|Focus||Research, Policy, Advocacy, Poverty Eradication|
Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) is an international network of scholars, teachers, and students working to mobilize the resources of academia to help alleviate poverty. ASAP works to enhance the impact of academics working to end poverty by promoting collaboration and carrying out public campaigns. ASAP supports public outreach that brings ideas from academia to policy makers and civil society; collaboration to deliver new, interdisciplinary research; and on-the-ground poverty interventions.
ASAP is currently engaged in a range of efforts aimed at leveraging the resources of academia toward poverty alleviation around the world. Its network has been described as a group that “lies between academia and activism. Like the latter, it aims primarily at persuading and motivating people to change their behavior. Like the former, it does so by moral and political argument, using the distinctive skills of academics.” ASAP’s mission is to help scholars, teachers, and students enhance their impact on poverty. It does so by promoting collaboration among poverty-focused academics, by helping them share research on poverty with public audiences, policy makers, and NGOs, and by helping academics use their expertise to achieve an impact on global poverty through intervention projects. ASAP supports a number of collaborative projects, such as the Global Poverty Consensus Report, the Institution Reform Goals, Moral Psychology and Poverty Alleviation, Know Your Rights India, and the Health Impact Fund.
- Global Poverty Consensus Report: the objective of this project is to build consensus amongst academics on what can and should be done to alleviate global poverty. ASAP intends to feed this report into the international negotiations over what should replace the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015. The research for this report includes interviews with more than fifty academic experts in poverty alleviation and development, with the goal of identifying points of consensus on priorities for development post-2015. ASAP and the Comparative Research Program on Poverty (CROP) will conduct a qualitative analysis of the interview results to map the main areas of agreement and disagreement. The resulting report will serve as a platform for an ASAP advocacy campaign to influence the post-2015 development framework.
- Institutional Reform Goals: this project promotes an institutional reform agenda to be included in the post-2015 development framework, focusing on financial transparency and integrity, intellectual property law, participatory and inclusive consultation, labor standards, environmental sustainability, migration, the arms trade, and debt. The Institutional Reform Goals emphasize policies that create responsibilities for all countries and not solely for aid-receiving countries.
- Moral Psychology and Poverty Alleviation: drawing on research from cognitive science, psychology, moral philosophy, and political science, this project looks at the factors that affect individuals’ motivation to engage in charitable giving and aims to ascertain more effective means of encouraging people to help alleviate poverty.
- Know Your Rights India: this project aims to launch a wiki-based collaborative website that informs people in India of their rights, benefits, and entitlements under national and local laws. The site will also provide information about those government offices and NGOs that can help individuals fulfill their rights and entitlements.
- Health Impact Fund: this project, led by Incentives for Global Health and supported by ASAP, promotes a proposed new way of paying for pharmaceutical innovation—the Health Impact Fund (HIF). The HIF would incentivize the development and delivery of new medicines by paying for performance. Under the proposal, all pharmaceutical firms worldwide would have the option of registering new medicines with the HIF, thereby agreeing to provide its drug at cost anywhere it is needed. In exchange for foregoing the normal profits from drug sales, the firm would be rewarded based on the HIF’s assessment of the actual health impact of the drug. Governments and other donors would finance the HIF.
ASAP was founded by a group of nine academics in six countries with the mission of helping academics make a greater impact on global poverty. Those nine academics now comprise ASAP’s board of directors. The board developed the ASAP network by holding national launch conferences in the United States at Yale University, in the United Kingdom at the University of Birmingham, in Norway at the University of Oslo, and in India at the University of Delhi in 2011. In 2012, ASAP held a national launch conference in Canada at Ryerson University.
ASAP is led by its founding board of directors and an advisory board of seventeen scholars whose research deals with poverty and global justice issues. Its international network includes over 1,200 members from universities, research centers, and NGOs, as well as student chapters (for example at the University of Birmingham, the University of Delhi, and the University of Manchester). In addition, ASAP has a number of strategic partners: Beyond 2015, Global Financial Integrity, CROP, Incentives for Global Health, and the Global Justice Program at Yale University.
Regional and Country Chapters
ASAP is a global organization with several regional and country chapters. These chapters have their own organizational goals and projects and take part in global ASAP projects at the same time. ASAP currently has the following country and regional chapters (with several other chapters in development):
- United Kingdom
- United States
- West Africa
Board of Directors
The network is led by a board of academics from a range of disciplines, which oversees the network’s research and advocacy efforts.
- Ashok Acharya: associate professor in political science and joint director of the Developing Countries Research Centre, University of Delhi
- Luis Cabrera: reader in political theory at the University of Birmingham
- Paula Casal: ICREA Research Professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra
- Keith Horton: lecturer in philosophy at the University of Wollongong
- Matt Lindauer: Ph.D. student in philosophy at Yale University
- Thomas Pogge: Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs and director of the Global Justice Program at Yale University, research director of the Centre for the Study of the Mind in Nature at the University of Oslo, and president of Incentives for Global Health
- Mitu Sengupta: associate professor of politics and public administration at Ryerson University and director of research and development at the Centre for Development and Human Rights in Delhi
- Gilad Tanay: Ph.D. student of philosophy at Yale University
The ASAP advisory board guides and supports network initiatives. James O’Connor described the board as an “illustrious list of figures with a long involvement in poverty-related research and policy.”
- Bina Agarwal: professor of development economics and environment at the University of Manchester
- Sabina Alkire: directs the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), a research center within the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford; research associate at Harvard University and vice president of the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA)
- Sonia Bhalotra: professor of development economics at the University of Bristol
- Ha-Joon Chang: reader in political economy of development at the University of Cambridge
- Alberto Cimadamore: scientific director at the CROP Secretariat, based at the University of Bergen
- Paul Collier, CBE: professor of economics and director for the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford and a fellow of St. Antony’s College
- Sakiko Fukuda-Parr: professor of international affairs at the New School
- Des Gasper: works at the International Institute of Social Studies as dean of studies
- Varun Gauri: senior economist with the development research group at the World Bank
- David Hulme: professor of development studies at the University of Manchester, executive director of the Brooks World Poverty Institute, and acting director of the Chronic Poverty Research Centre
- Gerry Mackie: associate professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego
- Branko Milanović: lead economist in the World Bank research group and a visiting professor at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland
- Jonathan Morduch: professor of public policy and economics at the NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and managing director of the Financial Access Initiative
- John Roemer: Elizabeth S. and A. Varick Stout Professor of Political Science and Economics at Yale University
- Henry Shue: senior research fellow at Merton College and a professor of politics and international relations at Oxford University
- Peter Singer: Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne
- Paul Slovic: professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and the president of the Decision Research Group
ASAP has secured funding from numerous sources, such as the British Council, CROP, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The United Kingdom launch conference was funded by CROP and the University of Birmingham School of Government and Society. Launch conferences held at the University of Oslo and University of Delhi were co-sponsored by CROP and the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature. The launch conference held in Canada in October 2012 was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Office of the Vice President, Research and Innovation at Ryerson University and the Ryerson University Politics and Governance Students' Association.
A special issue of the Carnegie Council's Ethics & International Affairs focuses on ASAP’s potential, and the contribution academics in general might make toward poverty alleviation. In his article in the special issue, Martin Kirk, global campaigns director for The Rules, argues that the network has the potential to influence NGOs to adopt more effective and less paternalistic approaches to development and improve their engagement with the communities they serve. “A critical barrier to change within NGOs is the fact that existing approaches are locked into a single paradigm for what counts as required knowledge for communications and campaigns in their home markets. Thus, a group such as Academics Stand Against Poverty could be extremely influential by making the concerted case for change, and then assisting practically with authoritative guidance.”
Oxford political theorist Simon Caney argues that ASAP can have a significant impact on poverty because academics have a high level of expertise and, in certain disciplines, possess prestige and authority that extend beyond academia, and therefore have the ability to influence others to be active in the fight against global poverty. The contribution of academics to advocacy may include persuading privileged groups to change their behaviour, the development of research-based policy proposals, and driving change at a more abstract or general level, such as the conceptualisation of poverty. Academics can also provide research that people living in poverty and other vulnerable groups can use, empirically-grounded guidance to those who wish to donate to charities, and finally the provision of a “plausible normative framework for thinking about poverty.”
Onora O’Neill, Cambridge philosopher and member of the UK House of Lords, raises questions about the potential of academics to contribute to poverty eradication, noting that many do not have a sufficient level of expertise concerning poverty; she suggests “that it might be better to aim such advocacy not at academics but at the more indeterminate class of persons with expertise relevant to some aspect of poverty and development” (pg. 20). She also remarks that expertise concerning the causes of the persistence of poverty and effective remedies needs to be generated. Roger Riddell (Oxford Policy Management) notes the contributions academics can and have made, and he urges those in groups such as ASAP to be aware of past efforts and their failures as well as successes.
James O’Connor remarks that the central dimension of ASAP’s work, termed ‘impact’, is likely to be criticised by academics based in the United Kingdom as being closely aligned with the “economic instrumentalism” of the UK Research Excellence Framework. However, he notes that the dimension termed “impact” refers to the potential of academics to make significant contributions in combating poverty. He concludes his article in the special issue by stating that “the disagreement over whether an academic stance against world poverty is possible seems to come down not to a dispute over what our moral priorities should be, but over how and how not to do politics with philosophical ideas.”
- ASAP (2012). Academic Stand Against Poverty Prospectus. ASAP.
- ASAP. "ASAP Canada Launch". Retrieved 13 October 2012.
- Global Justice Program. "Academic Stand Against Poverty". Retrieved 2012.
- ASAP. "About ASAP". Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- ASAP. "Academic Stand Against Poverty". Retrieved 22 October 2012.
- HIF. "HIF Health Impact Fund: A Proposal by Incentives for Global Health". Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- Horton, K (2012). History.
- O'Connor, J (2012). Turning thoughts into action: Do academic experts have special obligations to the poor?. The Philosophers' Magazine,.
- CSMN. "Workshop: Building Consensus on Global Poverty". Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- Horton, K (2012). "How Academics Can Help People Make Better Decisions Concerning Global Poverty". Ethics & International Affairs 26 (02): 265–278. doi:10.1017/s0892679412000329.
- CROP. "Academic Stand Against Poverty: Launch conference UK- Call for proposals". Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- Riddell, R.C. (2012). "Navigating Between Extremes: Academics Helping to Eradicate Global Poverty". Ethics & International Affairs 26 (02): 217–243. doi:10.1017/s0892679412000305.
- Kirk, M (2012). "Beyond Charity: Helping NGOs Lead a Transformative New Public Discourse on Global Poverty and Social Justice". Ethics & International Affairs 26 (02): 245–263. doi:10.1017/s0892679412000317.
- Carey, S (2012). "Addressing Poverty and Climate Change: The Varieties of Social Engagement". Ethics & International Affairs 26 (02): 191–216. doi:10.1017/s0892679412000299.
- O'Neil, O (2012). "Global Poverty and the Limits of Academic Expertise". Ethics & International Affairs 26 (02): 183–189. doi:10.1017/s0892679412000287.