WSU alumna '13 studies civil society in West Africa
Dr. Krawczyk, ’10, M.P.A. ’13 Ph.D. in political science, is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Auburn University where she created the MPA course Public Administration, Civil Society, and Development.
Thinking she’d like to become a nonprofit executive director, Dr. Kelly Krawczyk—now an associate professor in political science at Auburn University—started working in nonprofit resource development around the same time she was accepted into the MPA program at Wayne State. “It took about four weeks for me to realize I enjoyed graduate school more than my job,” she says. “So, I decided to jointly pursue my Ph.D. (in political science), and prepare for a career in academia.”
At Wayne, she started working with international nonprofit organizations (INGOs) that worked in sub-Saharan Africa. “I became increasingly interested in studying the nonprofit sector from this perspective: both U.S.-based INGOs working in Africa, as well as African civil society organizations.”
Initially, her graduate school education lacked hands-on experience. “I found myself struggling to pursue this vein of research on my own.”
A graduate teaching assistantship for an honors course called the African Democracy Project changed all that. The class met regularly at Wayne State and included trips abroad to the countries of study. “The faculty leading this course gave me my first chance to contribute to teaching and research in this field, as well as my first opportunity to travel to the African continent.” Kelly assisted in teaching two African Democracy Project courses in the States, and traveled to Liberia in 2011, then Ghana in 2012. “Not only was this the most memorable experience of my graduate career, but it has completely shaped my work today.”
Six years later, Kelly’s research and outreach are still rooted in West Africa. On average, she travels to the region three times a year. Her studies focus on civil society and how it contributes to democratic government, particularly in how it impacts political participation in “post-conflict environments,” she says.
She’s proud to have created the MPA course Public Administration, Civil Society, and Development at Auburn University. “Because the opportunity to participate in the African Democracy Project was so influential for me, I wanted to give my students a similar experience.”
Last fall, she took several MPA students to Liberia where they studied the country’s political, economic, and social history, she says. “It was amazing to watch my students experience Liberia for the first time, in the same way I did in 2011.”
Kelly attributes her career success to Wayne State University’s status as a top urban research university. “I was able to leverage my time at Wayne State into a thriving career as an academic. These days, given the competitive environment of academia, that is no small feat.”