Despite significant improvements in human-development indicators, such as education, health, water, and sanitation, most Pacific Island countries still face major development constraints. These include geographic isolation, limited markets, weak institutional capacities, and vulnerability to natural disasters.

Unfortunately, little applied research is available on Pacific development issues, while the number of development practitioners familiar with the region’s unique social and economic environments is dwindling. To address this challenge, the East-West Center – with funding from the Asian Development Bank – is launching a graduate fellowship program that will support three graduate students working on development issues to conduct field research in the Pacific.

Supporting Pacific Research

Each researcher will receive a grant of up to $50,000, to finance field research in one or more Pacific Island countries. They will also receive residential academic experience at the East-West Center or another public-policy research institution for writing, networking, and preparing research summaries. In addition, the grants will require the researcher to share their findings with key stakeholders in the Pacific and the publication of policy-relevant research summaries for a broader audience.

In 2021 and 2022, the East-West Center will conduct annual competitions for the fellowships. The Center will then support and supervise the activities of the fellows. Concluding in February 2024, this pilot project aims to increase the number of Pacific scholars who can help to address regional development issues.