Richard Joseph

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Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development

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Richard Joseph, a nonresident senior fellow in Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution, is John Evans Professor of International History and Politics at Northwestern University. Former fellow of The Carter Center, Atlanta, he focuses on African governance, political economy, and democratization. As a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Joseph’s understanding of the misuse of Africa’s human, physical and natural resources underwent a fundamental shift as reflected in his essay Affluence and Underdevelopment: The Nigerian Experience (1978). During the subsequent three decades, he has confronted directly – in publications, seminars, lectures, and collaborative research programs – impediments in Africa to democracy and economic growth, the building of efficient public and private institutions, the reduction of systemic corruption and poverty, and the ending of violent conflict.

In a USIP Special Report in 2002, entitled Smart Partnerships for African Development, he drew on lessons learned over the previous twenty-five years that include two years as a Ford Foundation program officer and six years of direct engagement with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter conducting peace and democracy initiatives in several African countries, notably Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Sudan and Zambia. With the support of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, he initiated at Northwestern the Consortium for Development Partnerships (CDP) in 2004 and oversaw projects by West African researchers on governance, democracy and agribusiness. A grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2006 supported the creation of the Research Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS (REACH). Survey research has been completed on HIV prevention and treatment in several Nigerian communities involving dozens of researchers, graduate students, and field assistants backed by an international team.

In his joint positions at Northwestern and the Brookings Institution, he focuses on the following:

  • The promotion of inclusive growth, democratic governance, and physical and social security in Africa
  • The special challenges in Nigeria to overcome deepening inequalities, poverty, the corrupt use of governmental offices (prebendalism), and terrorist violence
  • Writing monographs based on his diverse experiences as a scholar, policy advocate and practitioner 
  • Consulting with the United States government, and those of other countries and multilateral organizations, in the search for more effective policies to achieve democratic progress, economic growth, and poverty reduction in the complex terrain of contemporary Africa

    His past positions include the following:


  • Asa G. Candler Professor of Political Science, Emory University
  • Professor of Political Science, Dartmouth College
  • Director, Program of African Studies, Northwestern University
  • Director, African Governance Program, The Carter Center
  • Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow, United States Institute of Peace
  • Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy
  • Board Member, American Council of Learned Societies
  • Lecturer in Political Science, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and University of Khartoum, Sudan
  • Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University