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What We Do

What we do

An initial focus of the Sahel Research Group was the effort to understand factors affecting the development of democratic institutions in the region, and particularly electoral systems. The Trans-Saharan Elections Project (TSEP), funded by a grant from the United States Department of State, made possible a number of exchanges with elections specialists in all six countries of the region. It also allowed us to develop the TSEP website that you will find linked on this page, providing information on the electoral systems and processes of each country.

The development of democratic institutions has been complicated and at times undermined by the destabilizing pressures on the region. With a three-year grant from the Minerva Initiative, a core effort of the Sahel Research Group was to study the intersection of processes of political reform with socio-religious change in affecting the prospects for stability in the countries of the region. Two follow-up grants with Minerva support allowed us to study the phenomenon of religious movements on university campuses in collaboration with colleagues from each country of the region, and then on the questions surrounding the debates about laïcité (secularism, French style).

Other projects on religious education and on agriculture have been supported as part of the African Politics and Power Program on a major grant from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID).  Other research projects on health, nutrition, agriculture and related topics that you will find highlighted on this site have been carried out as part of projects funded by the US Agency for International Development, and the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada.  Other individual research projects have been supported by the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) and by the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

Since 2017, under a memorandum of understanding between the Sahel Research Group and Sahel and West Africa Club of the OECD, we have led collaborative research projects on cities and borders, the dynamics of urbanization, and currently on foreign interventions and transnational insurgencies in the Sahara-Sahel.

More information on our many research areas, projects and publications can be found on this website.  We welcome your feedback and interest in our work, and are more than happy to correspond with other scholars working on the region.