The IFP Alumni Tracking Study explores the personal pathways and career trajectories of alumni of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program (IFP). Launched in 2013, the study is being carried out by the Research, Evaluation and Learning (REL) Team at the Institute of International Education (IIE). The study is unprecedented in its size and scope and will provide useful lessons for IIE and the field at large on how to carry out impact studies over an extended period, and how to design fellowships for maximum impact. By studying the link between higher education and social justice, and the effect that higher education can have on marginalized populations and leadership, we are better able to understand the long-term impact of international higher education scholarship programs that seek to promote social change.
Core Research Questions
IFP’s theory of change guides the Tracking 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 led, 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?
IIE is conducting three IFP Global Alumni Surveys during the course of the study.
- In April 2016, Social Justice and Sustainable Change: The Impacts of Higher Education shared the results of the 2015 IFP Global Alumni Survey.
- In March 2019, Leveraging Higher Education to Promote Social Justice shared the results of the 2018 IFP Global Alumni Survey. The findings in this report also compared longitudinal data from 2015 to 2018 among alumni who completed both surveys.
- In 2021, IIE is planning to administer the third and final IFP Global Alumni Survey, with findings to be distributed by the end of the study in 2023.
In 2018, IIE administered the IFP Organizations Survey, a one-time survey that aimed to document IFP’s impact on organizations where IFP alumni work or volunteer. This survey was designed precisely for organizational staff that work or have worked with the IFP alumni.
IIE is conducting in-country fieldwork to understand better the impact of IFP alumni in their home communities and around the world.
First Fieldwork Round: From 2016 to 2018, the study team worked with 45 local researchers in 10 IFP locations to conduct local fieldwork. This qualitative fieldwork was characterized by a participatory approach that mirrored the collaborative spirit of IFP.
- Asia: Social Justice Leaders in Action: IFP Impacts in Asia shared the results of focus groups and interviews with 274 alumni and community members in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
- Latin America: Leaders, Contexts, and Complexities: IFP Impacts in Latin America drew upon focus groups and interviews with 268 IFP alumni and community stakeholders in Brazil, Guatemala, and Mexico.
- Africa and the Middle East: Transformational Leaders and Social Change: IFP Impacts in Africa and the Middle East included the perspectives of 361 IFP alumni and stakeholders in four locations: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Palestine.
IIE is planning a second and final round of qualitative fieldwork in 2020/2021. The REL Team will prioritize, as much as possible, countries that have not been part of previous fieldwork.
Other Study Activities
The study team is also focusing on additional study activities to complement quantitative and qualitative data collection.
- Out of Country Analysis: Past qualitative fieldwork revealed that our analysis was missing the voices of IFP alumni who are currently out of their home country (approximately 13%, 2018 IFP Global Alumni Survey) and who may be contributing to social justice in various ways. A qualitative study of IFP alumni located outside of their home countries will analyze the links these alumni experience with their home countries and communities and the potential impact of the alumni.
- Alumni Awards Analysis: IIE has administered two rounds of IFP Alumni Awards to alumni to support their work and professional development in areas related to their IFP degree. As a result of these two rounds, 248 IFP alumni have received funding beyond the IFP fellowship. A brief study of the IFP Alumni Awards will focus on the work that IFP alumni were able to achieve with their awards and how this contributes further to the goals of IFP.
- IFP Alumni Organizations Analysis: The Ford Foundation and IFP facilitated the creation of 22 IFP Alumni Organizations prior to the end of the program in 2013. While the IFP Alumni Tracking Study has not necessarily studied these organizations as part of its scope, we have found over time and through our data collection that some IFP Alumni Organizations are effectively replicating and promoting the goals of IFP in local, national, and international contexts. This case study analysis will focus on three to four IFP Alumni Organizations still in existence and their administration, activities, and impact in furthering the goals of IFP.