IDS/VSO action research PhD opportunities on 'Valuing Volunteering'

My colleague Joanna Wheeler from IDS sent me a message this morning about a fascinating action research-based project that the IDS Participation, Power and Social Change Team and VSO-UK are going to implement jointly as a series of PhD projects. There are more details below and an even more detailed research design outline is included as well.
But before you get too excited,
let me stress that this project does *not*, I repeat: NOT!, come with a scholarship to undertake a PhD at IDS/University of Sussex.
VSO will cover the fieldwork under a normal volunteer contract but every candidate will have to secure funding for her/his PhD fees (approximately £3,500 for EU citizens and £9,000 per year for everybody else). If you are still interested I suggest that you get in touch with Joanna directly, ideally including your CV and a statement why you would be a good candidate for the project. But please read the complete information first:

Valuing Volunteering
Valuing Volunteering will use systemic action research to understand how volunteering affects poverty (very broadly interpreted, and allowing for both positive and negative types of outcomes).  I have attached the draft research design for Valuing Volunteering in case anyone would like more details about it, and please let me know if you have any questions.

The idea is that potential candidates for the Dphil would go through the VSO selection process, and if successful, could be placed as volunteers and lead researchers on this project. They would develop a parallel Dphil project in addition to leading the action research process in partnership with the VSO country office, and their VSO placement would give them a good basis for their primary research (for which VSO will cover their expenses under the normal conditions of a volunteer placement).  The students would still need to find funding for the relevant Dphil fees. We are particularly looking for people with a strong interest in action research as a methodology and with excellent facilitation skills. 

The research will take place in 6 countries.  China, Mozambique, Kenya and Philippines have already been confirmed and the remaining 2 are still to be decided.

Due to time frames, we need to try and identify potential candidates as soon as possible so that they can complete the VSO selection/training  before the group action research training scheduled for mid-January.  They would begin their placements by March 2012.  

P.S.: If you are contemplating doing a PhD in Development Studies more in general, my earlier reflections may be useful to answer some fundamental question about the process.


  1. A must read research monograph for the folks behind this interesting initiative: Wilkinson-Maposa, S. & Fowler, A. (2009). The poor philanthropist I-IV: How and why the poor help each other. Cape Town: Southern Africa-United States Center for Leadership and Public Values. See:


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