Columbia University Libraries announces the launch of the Ford International Fellowships Program (IFP) Digital Archive. The web portal provides access to the born-digital records of one of the Ford Foundation’s most ambitious efforts. In 2001 the Ford Foundation committed $420 million over 12 years to launch a new kind of fellowship program for social justice leaders from the world’s most vulnerable populations in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Russia. Geared toward grassroots leaders and social innovators, the IFP was based on an inclusive higher education model that prioritized social commitment over traditional selection criteria. Its underlying assumption was that, given the right tools, socially committed individuals from disadvantaged communities could succeed in postgraduate studies and would advance social change upon returning home. In addition to academic and leadership potential, candidates were selected from groups and communities that lack systematic access to higher education, such as women, indigenous people, and residents of rural areas. Over the course of its ten-year lifespan, the IFP program supported 4,300 fellows.
“The International Fellowships Program transformed how we think about scholarships as tools for social justice,” said Hilary Pennington, Ford Foundation’s Vice President for Education, Creativity and Free Expression. “The Ford IFP Digital Archive at Columbia ensures that researchers and practitioners worldwide will continue to benefit from this body of knowledge and experience built over many years.”
In 2012, the Ford Foundation transferred its paper and digital archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library so that they might be preserved and made accessible to future generations of researchers. The archive is comprised of 450 linear feet of paper files and some 55,000 digital files currently, growing to ca. 90,000 by the end of the project. They include the records of the New York-based Secretariat as well as those generated by the twenty-two partner offices located throughout the world. According to Sean Quimby, Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Ford IFP Archive “documents the conception, implementation, and outcomes of a far-reaching, historic philanthropic initiative.” The Archive will eventually include the data gathered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), which has just released a tracking study of IFP alumni. Soon after placing the archive with Columbia, Ford awarded the university a $1 million grant to develop the infrastructure required to preserve and provide access to historical digital content. The newly launched and publicly accessible Ford IFP Digital Archive is the web portal to much of that content. (Due to privacy considerations not all of the digital archive can be made accessible on the open web.) To consult the complete digital archive and the paper records, researchers must visit the reading room of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which is located on the sixth floor of Columbia’s Butler Library and is open to the public.
To encourage critical engagement with the Ford IFP Archive, Columbia has awarded research awards to six scholars from institutions around the world:
• Tran Nu Mai Thy (Endicott College), A study of IFP Vietnam Alumni
• Budi Waluyo (Lehigh University), “Measuring National Community Development Returns from International Scholarship Programs”
• Wim de Jong (Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands), “Philanthropy, Community and Democracy. The Ford Foundation’s Domestic and Foreign Education Programs, 1949-2016”
• Funmi Para-Mallam (National Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies, Nigeria), “Tackling Gender-Based Violence in Select African Countries”
• Rajendran Thangavelu Govender (Kwazulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa) “From Dark to Enlightened Continent—An Anyalytical Study of the Research of the Ford Foundation IFP Africa Alumni from 2001 to 2013”
• Nagah Hassan Ismail, “Promoting Social Justice in Egypt: the Impact of the Ford IFP”
Each award winner will work in both the digital and paper archive during the summer of 2016 and present their findings at a symposium that will be held at Columbia University’s Faculty House on September 8. That event will be free and open to the public. For more information about that event, and about the Ford IFP Digital Archive, please contact Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columbia University Libraries is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 13 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff and hosts over 4.7 million visitors each year. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.