The IFP Alumni Tracking Study offers a rare opportunity to explore over the long term how an innovative higher education program has affected the lives of its beneficiaries and the communities in which they live and work. The study is groundbreaking in its size and scope, and contributes to social justice because the study itself gives voice and agency to IFP and its alumni.
Using the decentralized IFP model as a starting point, the study relies on quantitative and qualitative data collected both globally and locally through a combination of surveys and local fieldwork. In addition to mirroring the structure that IFP created, our design encourages alumni engagement at multiple levels.
Quantitative data collection
In 2015 the study team launched the first of two global alumni surveys to be administered during the course of the study. Our April 2016 report, Social Justice and Sustainable Change: The Impacts of Higher Education, shares the results of the survey, which drew responses from 1,861 alumni across all 22 IFP countries, accounting for 43% of the program population.
Qualitative data collection
Beginning in 2016, the study team is working with local researchers to conduct local fieldwork in a subset of IFP countries. This qualitative fieldwork is characterized by a participatory approach which mirrors the collaborative spirit of IFP. Our March 2017 report, Social Justice Leaders in Action: IFP Impacts in Asia, shares the results of focus groups and interviews with 274 alumni and community members in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Our most recent report, Leaders, Contexts, and Complexities: IFP Impacts in Latin America, released in November 2017, draws upon focus groups and interviews with 268 IFP alumni and community stakeholders in Brazil, Guatemala, and Mexico. We are currently carrying out a third round of qualitative fieldwork in Africa and the Middle East.
Core Research Questions
The IFP theory of change guides the study’s approach, hypothesizing that the fellowship opportunity supported participants in developing their roles as social justice leaders. The acquisition of knowledge and skills through higher education leads, in turn, to social change beyond the individual sphere of influence.
The research questions in the study’s methodology reflect the overall vision of IFP in linking higher education opportunity to social change:
- What have been the long-term impacts of the IFP experience on its alumni? How has the program enabled alumni to contribute to long-term impacts at the organizational, community, and societal levels?
- What contributions to social justice have IFP alumni made as leaders in their communities as a result of their fellowship opportunity?
- What is the link between higher education and social justice? How can higher education fellowship programs provide opportunities to address social inequalities?