Michael Kevane, associate professor of economics at Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business, recently was awarded a U.S. Fulbright Scholar award from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, to study the development impact of literacy gains in Burkina Faso.
Kevane will spend about six months in Burkina Faso in West Africa later this year, measuring how increased reading of fiction by young people affects certain character traits which are considered vital to spurring economic development.
The Fulbright combines Kevane’s two biggest scholastic passions: economics and literacy/reading in Africa. He is director and founder of Friends of African Village Libraries, a nonprofit that helps build and maintain libraries in African villages. This is a passion he developed over the years, as he and his wife Leslie Gray, a geographer, spent time living in small villages in Burkina Faso and Sudan.
“Reading is a cornerstone of development for any society,” said Kevane. “I am excited to spend my time as a Fulbright scholar learning to what extent the first generation of students with access to libraries in Burkina Faso are better equipped to make individual and collaborative decisions for long-term well-being, especially for their communities.”
Kevane’s research will focus on six outcomes: attitudes of tolerance towards cultural difference, inclinations to be cooperative and trusting, patience, risk preferences, and attitudes towards innovation and change. Increasingly, these mental predispositions are seen as important in the process of economic development. The research will be conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Institut National des Sciences des Sociétés of Burkina Faso.
Kevane received his Ph.D. in development economics from the University of California- Berkeley and his B.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University. He has consulted for the World Bank, Freedom from Hunger, and the private sector. The author of two books and numerous articles in academic journals, Kevane also lectures and writes frequently on African economic development and socio-economic issues.
The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. The primary source of funding for Fulbright is an annual appropriation from the United States Congress. Assisting the Bureau with the administration of the Fulbright Program are a number of private organizations, including the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES).
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | firstname.lastname@example.org | 408-554-5121