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New fund to support global solutions

Eight research projects jointly receive more than $1 million

Eight research projects led by multidisciplinary-faculty teams have jointly received $1.05 million in the first round of awards made by Stanford's new $3 million Presidential Fund for Innovation in International Studies.

Coit D. Blacker, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, said the fund is the first program launched by the university's International Initiative, which seeks to encourage collaborative, cross-disciplinary approaches to address the global challenges of pursuing peace and security, improving governance and advancing human well-being.

The multi-year projects, selected by the International Initiative's executive committee from 37 proposals, will bring together faculty from fields that traditionally do not collaborate to produce new courses, symposia, conferences and research papers. Blacker, who chairs the executive committee, said additional awards totaling about $2 million will be made in 2007 and 2008.

President John Hennessy said he supports the research projects. "The world does not come to us as neat disciplinary problems, but as complex interdisciplinary challenges," he said. "The collaborative proposals we have selected for this first round of funding offer great potential to help shed light on some of the most persistent and pressing political issues on the global agenda today."

Projects in the first round of funding include:

Governance under Authoritarian Rule. Stephen Haber and Beatriz Magaloni, political science; Ian Morris, classics, history; and Jennifer Trimble, classics. The researchers will examine the political economy of authoritarian systems and determine why some authoritarian governments are able to make the transition to democracy, stable growth and functioning institutions, while others prove predatory and unstable.

Addressing Institutional and Interest Conflicts: Project Governance Structures for Global Infrastructure Development. Raymond Levitt, civil and environmental engineering; Doug McAdam and W. Richard Scott, sociology. The project will analyze the challenges of creating efficient and effective public/private institutions for the provision of low-cost, distributed and durable infrastructure services in emerging economies.

Combating HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa: The Treatment Revolution and Its Impact on Health, Well-Being and Governance. David Katzenstein, infectious diseases; and Jeremy Weinstein, political science. Based on the 2005 Group of 8's commitment to put 10 million people infected with HIV/AIDS on treatment within five years, this project will research the impact of this treatment revolution on health, well-being and governance in sub-Saharan Africa.

Evaluating Institutional Responses to Market Liberalization: Why Latin America Was Left Behind. Judith Goldstein, political science; Avner Greif, economics; Steven Haber, political science; Herb Klein, history; H. Grant Miller, Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI)/medicine; and Barry Weingast, political science. The project will research the interaction between inequality and Latin American institutions in explaining the poor economic performance of countries in the region during the past two decades, examining why reforms such as trade liberalization have failed to yield expected results.

Feeding the World in the 21st Century: Exploring the Connections Between Food Production, Health, Environmental Resources and International Security. Rosamond Naylor, FSI/economics; Stephen Stedman, FSI/political science; Peter Vitousek, biological sciences; and Gary Schoolnik, medicine, microbiology and immunology. The group will launch a new research and teaching program, titled "Food Security and the Environment," with an initial priority on determining linkages between food security, health and international security, and globalization, agricultural trade and the environment.

The Political Economy of Cultural Diversity. James D. Fearon, political science; and Romain Wacziarg, Graduate School of Business. The researchers will assess the impact of ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity on economic growth, trade and capital flows, governance, development of democracy and political stability.

In addition, two grants to plan forthcoming research projects have received $25,000:

Global Health by Design. Geoffrey Gurtner, plastic and reconstructive surgery; David Kelley, mechanical engineering; Thomas Krummel, surgery; Julie Parsonnet, medicine, health research and policy; and Paul Yock, medicine, bioengineering. The group will design a project to examine how new technology can be used to develop effective, affordable and sustainable methods and devices to prevent disease in the world's poorest countries.

Ecological Sanitation in Rural Haiti: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Sanitation and Soil Fertility. Ralph Greco, surgery; and Rodolfo Dirzo, biological sciences. The researchers will develop a plan to test the efficacy of ecological sanitation in decreasing disease and enhancing soil fertility in rural Haiti.