Kellogg International Development Fellow Christopher Newton ’15 has been awarded a USAID Research and Innovation Fellowship (RIF) to conduct an analysis of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system of the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) in South Sudan, using the organization’s multiyear health services project as a case study. His recommendations will inform how AVSI conducts monitoring and evaluation in South Sudan going forward.

A political science major and International Development Studies minor when he was at Notre Dame, Newton is currently six months into a one-year Kellogg International Development Fellowship (IDF) with AVSI in Juba, South Sudan.

“We couldn’t be more pleased that Chris has won the USAID fellowship,” said Institute Director Paolo Carozza. “It is a wonderful validation not only of his remarkable ability and initiative but of the International Development Fellowship, which we created precisely to give new Notre Dame graduates professional experience in a hard-to-break-into but very important field.”

Newton draws a clear connection between his current IDF fellowship and the one newly awarded by USAID.

“The Kellogg fellowship has allowed me the unprecedented opportunity to embed myself within a small international NGO in the field right out of undergrad,” says Newton, who aspires to a career in international development monitoring and evaluation.

“I’ve been able to soak up basic knowledge of development and humanitarianism, the operating context of South Sudan, and a variety of methods in data collection and analysis,” he explains. “Without the year of learning afforded me by Kellogg, I would not have even considered applying for the RIF. The RIF will still be immensely difficult, but now it is a feasible project.”

So far in his fellowship with AVSI, Newton has focused on general project support and independent work, undertaking background research one day and intensive data collection the next. He has written grant proposals, conducted a countywide food security survey, and produced a position paper petitioning the UN cluster system for humanitarian funding in areas affected by protracted intercommunal violence.

“This is a rare chance to explore and experiment while still working for an NGO in the field,” Newton says. “Everything is an exercise in learning by doing.”
“Most crucially, an International Development Fellowship gives you time—time to develop a foundation of basic knowledge, take risks with new methods and ideas, watch how an NGO functions from the inside, and reflect on your role in the world of development and envision what your future might be in that world,” he explains.

Funding for Newton’s USAID research will be provided by AVSI and the USAID/Notre Dame Global Development Fellowships in a partnership between six American universities and USAID’s Global Development Lab. This is the second year of the Research and Innovation Fellowships, which aim to create a global network of researchers addressing today’s most pressing issues in the developing world. The USAID/Notre Dame Fellowships are managed by the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD).

The Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) is an international NGO that supports 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. Founded in Italy in 1972, AVSI operates in 38 countries around the world with over 130 long-term projects and relief operations directly benefiting around four million people in various sectors.

The Kellogg Institute’s International Development Fellowships are competitive one-year awards for graduating seniors of the University of Notre Dame. The fellowships provide real world experience overseas with international organizations.

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies, part of the University of Notre Dame’s new Keough School of Global Affairs, is an interdisciplinary community of scholars and students from across the University and around the world that promotes research, provides educational opportunities, and builds linkages related to two topics critical to our world—democracy and human development.