International Development Fellowships

Some of the options available for International Development Fellowships and examples of prior student experiences.

Catholic Relief Services – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is an international non-governmental organization supporting relief and development work in over 99 countries around the world. CRS programs assist persons on the basis of need, regardless of creed, ethnicity or nationality. CRS works through local church and non-church partners to implement its programs. CRS has been operating in East Africa for more than 50 years to respond to the humanitarian needs of local populations and to work with communities to increase their capacity to direct their own development.

Chris Newton

a political science major and International Development Studies (IDS) minor, has immersed himself in international affairs and development at Notre Dame, conducting research and fieldwork in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Russia. He hopes to establish a career in monitoring and evaluation and evidence-based interventions, especially in conflict and post-conflict countries.

In Rwanda, Chris investigated the country’s regional foreign policy including its relationship with the Democratic Republic of the Congo on an Experiencing the World Fellowship, resulting in his IDS capstone essay. In Nepal, with a Kellogg/Kroc Undergraduate Research Grant, he conducted research on the fragmentation of a former Maoist rebel group for his political science honors thesis, which won the Stephen Kertesz Prize for the best senior thesis in the field of international relations.

Chris cochaired the 2015 Human Development Conference hosted by the Institute’s Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity. He helped to found the campus chapter of Global Zero, winning a Nanovic Research Grant for a joint student project to study variation in think tank views on nuclear weapons.

During a semester abroad in Jerusalem, Israel-Palestine, he interned with Catholic Relief Services. He also held research assistantships each year with various members of the political science faculty and served as an associate editor for Cornell’s The Diplomacist.

As an International Development Fellow, Chris will join the CRS evaluation and monitoring team for Farmer-to-Farmer, a USAID-funded program to boost productive, profitable, sustainable, and equitable agriculture systems in East Africa. He will be based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI)

The Association of Volunteers in International Service is an international not-for-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in Italy in 1972. AVSI’s mission is to support human development in developing countries with special attention to education and the promotion of the dignity of every human person, according to Catholic social teaching. At present, AVSI is operating in 38 countries of Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia with over 130 long-term projects and relief operations directly benefiting around 4,000,000 people in various sectors. Highly qualified AVSI personnel are directly involved in long-term field assignments together with hundreds of locally hired people and supported by dozens of academics and senior practitioners.

Emily Mediate

an Africana studies and pre-health studies major, is a Kellogg International Scholar and International Development Studies (IDS) minor who has focused her undergraduate years on bringing together varied approaches to international development and, specifically, the treatment of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Emily’s personal and professional goals come together in her integration of Catholic social teaching’s conception of human dignity into policy approaches to international development. With a career goal of improving health-based foreign aid, Emily intends to pursue a master’s in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation at the University of Oxford at the conclusion of her fellowship.

As an International Scholar, Emily worked with Faculty Fellow Terence McDonnell to analyze USAID HIV/AIDS campaigns. She also conducted independent research in Uganda, most especially on the role of foreign funding and personnel in the country’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. The fieldwork was the basis for her Africana studies senior thesis as well as her IDS capstone essay.

The recipient of a Kellogg/Kroc Undergraduate Research Grant as well as other funding, Emily studied abroad in London, where she was a policy and advocacy intern with Save the Children, UK. She has worked weekly with Imani Unidad, a South Bend support group for women with HIV, learning that “HIV is so much more than a medical issue.” She also continues her relationship with the Palliative Care Association of Uganda, where she was a Kellogg Summer Intern in 2013, planning to make the organization the focus of her master’s thesis.

As an International Development Fellow with AVSI in Kampala, Uganda, Emily will conduct research for to evaluate a multi-faceted USAID-funded program that aims to improve the well-being of children in HIV-affected families. This year’s focus is on how economic strengthening can improve outcomes.

Read more: International Scholar Advocates New Paradigm for HIV/AIDS Treatment


VSO is the world’s leading independent international development organization that works through volunteers to build community resilience and active citizenship. Its high-impact approach involves bringing people together to share skills, build capacity of local and existing structures, innovate and promote international understanding and action. VSO utilizes a range of skilled professionals, 30% of whom are from the Global South, within signature VSO projects. VSO is well positioned to leverage resources (financial and human) to promote sustainable social and economic development.

VSO works within an International Federation of Member Organizations representing the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Ireland, Philippines, India and Kenya - all of whom provide funds and volunteers while promoting awareness of international development issues in their respective geographies. VSO has an operating budget of over £75M+ spanning 24 countries across Africa and Asia Pacific.

Megan Fuerst 

a pre-professional studies major with minors in anthropology and peace studies, has spent two summers in rural Uganda immersing herself in women and children’s health issues. Dedicated to improving maternal healthcare in vulnerable populations, she plans to become an OB/GYN and has deferred medical school for a year to undertake this fellowship.

As a Kellogg Summer Intern, Megan worked in Uganda with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children and the next year, funded by a Kellogg/Kroc Undergraduate Research Grant, returned to conduct independent fieldwork on barriers to accessing maternal healthcare. The research formed the basis for two conference presentations and well as a senior thesis in anthropology supervised by Faculty Fellow Vania-Smith Oka.

A science student with 3-1/2 years of experience in the biochemistry lab, Megan was drawn to her minors by their emphasis on interactions with people and connections to a wider community. Her work is informed by Catholic social teaching.

As an International Development Fellow, Megan will work with VSO’s Africa fundraising team, responding to funding opportunities and participating on proposal bids. Based in Pretoria, South Africa, the position involves research, proposal development, special initiatives, and travel to country offices in the region.

Laura Zillmer

a political science major and peace studies minor, has a particular interest in promoting development through policy. She sees the fellowship as the first in several international experiences in development, to be followed by a master’s in public policy and, she hopes, a career with USAID or the United Nations.

After studying abroad in London for a semester, Laura taught English at a rural school in Kitete, Tanzania for nine weeks through the International Summer Service Learning Program of the Center for Social Concerns.

Her experience led her to further investigate humanitarian intervention, and she wrote her senior thesis on the responsibility to protect in international law, particularly in instances of grave human rights abuses. She sees strengthening human rights norms as fundamental to human development work.

Laura has served as African Regional Committee chair for Notre Dame’s International Development Research Council and as an intern for Catholic Charities of Lake County in Illinois.

As an International Development Fellow, Laura will work with VSO’s Africa fundraising team, responding to funding opportunities and participating on proposal bids. Based in Pretoria, South Africa, the position involves research, proposal development, special initiatives, and travel to country offices in the region.