By expanding to universities in Africa, Asia and Australia, the network hopes to extend the scope and depth of its research and accelerate the production of actionable insights into some of the world’s most pressing and complex development issues.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, said the Reach Alliance is a “brilliant” initiative that aligns closely with her university’s mission “to ensure that our research meets the needs of even the most marginalized communities in Africa, that it has real impact, and that we produce the leaders of tomorrow who are committed to social justice.”
The Reach Alliance produces impactful research to drive effective public policy
Founded in 2015 at the Munk School in partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, the Reach Alliance aims to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by generating knowledge and actionable insights aimed at improving the lives of people living in extreme poverty, geographically remote places and marginalized communities.
Students from all fields of study are placed in teams that work together for 12 to 18 months under the guidance of faculty mentors. Student researchers work to secure approval from research ethics boards, conduct primary research and interview local stakeholders. They then produce a case study report, which can be published in journals, shared with policymakers and presented at the annual Reach Symposium.
Teams also can take part in skill development workshops on topics such as quantitative and qualitative research; research methods; research ethics; and field interview practices. Through these opportunities, students are empowered to not only produce impactful research but grow into globally informed and highly skilled problem-solvers.
The alliance has seen over 170 undergraduate and graduate students produce 30 case studies in 20 countries to date. Their work has been published in prestigious academic journals including The Lancet, the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the Stanford Social Innovation Review and BMJ Global Health, among other influential scholarly journals.
Reach projects span everything from vaccine delivery to economic empowerment
U of T students have explored complex issues including polio eradication in India, vaccine delivery in Mozambique, women’s economic empowerment in Mexico, mobile money apps in Kenya and self-directed home-care service delivery in Ontario.