Brian Norris (Bolivia 1997-00), an associate political science professor at Lincoln University, won a Fulbright Global Scholar Award from the U.S. State Department and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, and will begin researching rural local governments in Colombia and Mozambique this summer.
The three-year grant will take Norris, who has worked in foreign countries for more than 25 years, to Colombia in 2022 and 2024, and to Mozambique in 2023. Norris will spend the next three summers conducting research and documenting how successful rural governments are at providing basic services and infrastructure to their communities.
“The governments of Colombia and Mozambique have granted more power and autonomy to rural local governments that are often in a better position to provide services than the national government,” Norris said in a university news release. “In practice, though, it is very difficult to decentralize power in geographically large and sprawling countries of 50 million and 30 million populations, respectively.”
Many people in rural areas of Colombia and Mozambique lack basic services, Norris said, such as running water, electricity, in-ground sewer systems and paved roads.
Norris, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia and an international aid worker in El Salvador, said success doesn’t always come with greater resources or power, but often hard work, solid local leadership and innovative solutions to novel challenges.
Norris said he wants to dive deeper into what makes some rural governments more successful than others so he can document and publish those lessons with colleagues from each country.
“Colombia and Mozambique are both developing countries, similar to about 44 percent of the world’s population,” he said. “Colombian and Mozambican governments struggle to make services available to all their citizens, and this common struggle unites these countries in a fundamental way.”
The two countries experienced brutal civil wars in recent history, Norris said, so the push for reconciliation is at the forefront of development challenges they each face.
Norris said he hopes his research in Colombia and Mozambique will create standing relationships between Mid-Missouri and the two countries and impact faculty and students at Lincoln by enriching their understanding of diverse cultures and beliefs.
Norris is one of 800 Americans who will be conducting research or teaching abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program for the 2022-23 academic year.
The Fulbright Program is a leading international educational exchange program funded by Congress. Since 1946, it has provided more than 400,000 participants with funding and resources to teach, study and research in more than 160 countries.