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For a better world: Auburn doctoral student bridges research, experience in global development

Lucky Umezulike

Before he came to Auburn University to earn a doctorate in Public Administration and Public Policy, Lucky Umezulike was an established change agent in Nigeria. For more than a decade, Umezulike consulted for and worked with organizations from the World Bank to the British Council to develop nonprofit capacity for sustainable development and empower citizens to hold the government accountable.

At Auburn, he hopes to leverage his research in Associate Professor Kelly Krawczyk's Global Development Solutions Lab to improve practices in the West African nonprofit sector and provide answers to critical research questions in global development.

"It's been a learning curve in terms of research and I'm also seeing the opportunities to contribute to what the lab is doing, leveraging my industry experience," Umezulike said. "The lab fosters global research, training and outreach in international development and nonprofits to facilitate development and strengthen democracy. Most of the lab's work is concentrated in West Africa, where I have industry experience already."

Umezulike's work in Nigeria broadly included nonprofit capacity strengthening and open government programming. This led to citizens demanding government accountability, the government responding, and nonprofit organizations getting the resources they needed to provide community services and advocate for policy change.

For his work in global development, Umezulike was recognized by the Obama Foundation Africa Leader initiative in 2019. Still, it wasn't enough.

Between Auburn's R1 status, the robust academic curriculum and the expertise of the political science faculty, Umezulike said Auburn was the perfect fit to sharpen his research skills and contribute more to the field.

"My PhD journey here at Auburn is basically to establish that linkage between the practice and theory or research of international development," Umezulike said. "As an international student, for someone that this is my first time coming to the U.S., I prefer a place like Auburn. Auburn is a very nice community. It's quiet and serene. It's also conducive for graduate work. I'm enjoying every bit of it."

Umezulike's research interests include nonprofit governance, philanthropy and international development. His studies on economic development in Nigeria and Singapore and international humanitarian intervention have been published in the Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review and the International Affairs and Global Strategy Journal, respectively. He also served as an integral part of implementing the lab's research and outreach projects in Liberia and Ghana.

One day, Umezulike hopes to return to Nigeria, more equipped to continue implementing development solutions. Until then, he continues to investigate research topics to translate what he accomplishes in the lab into a better and just world for all.

"I'm passionate about a better and just world. I see international development and nonprofits as one of the vehicles to actualize this world," Umezulike said. "I'm seeing millions of lives being changed, being transformed through international development and the work of nongovernmental organizations in Nigeria and other African countries."

Find more information about the doctoral program in Public Administration and Public Policy in the College of Liberal Arts.

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