In August 2021, Afghanistan fell to Taliban control as the US and NATO allies withdrew, leaving hundreds of thousands of Afghans at risk of reprisal. Over the course of a few weeks, an extraordinary effort emerged: Thousands of volunteers around the world convened in virtual spaces and collaborated with Afghans on the ground to help people safely evacuate. Together, volunteers and evacuees created an impressive, complex organizing infrastructure that likely saved thousands of lives.
This project examines this case of volunteer organizing during the Afghan crisis to understand a more widespread phenomenon: how ordinary people organize to provide urgent assistance in times of crises. Volunteers and emergent response groups (Majchrzak, Jarvenpaa, and Hollingshead 2007) often play a valuable role in disasters and crises (Shepherd and Williams 2014; Twigg and Mosel 2017). There is a critical need to better understand these groups, how they coordinate, how they can operate effectively, and when and how they might cause inadvertent harm.
SROP students involved in this project would be trained in qualitative research methods, research ethics, and (if needed) NVivo qualitative analysis software. They may assist with one or more of the following activities, depending on their interests and the needs of the project: correcting and redacting interview transcripts; assisting with first round “indexing” of transcripts (Deterding and Waters 2018) using NVivo qualitative analysis software; downloading and organizing archival data such as news articles, blogs, and reports, and importing and coding this archival data in NVivo.
Does this project require the SROP Student to be in-person or remote? Either one
I would not be an academic if not for the support of many mentors along the way, and I am committed to paying that forward. I never met anyone who was a professor until I started university, and I know how important it is to demystify this career and open doors for talented young people from groups that are under-represented in academia—especially students who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. I enjoyed serving as an SROP mentor in 2021, and previously advised undergraduate thesis writers, participants in another program similar to SROP, and young researchers in Sierra Leone. When mentoring students, I meet regularly with the them (virtually now) to provide guidance and feedback. I try to speak openly about the challenges and benefits of graduate school and an academic career, to help students discover whether this is the right path for them—and to help them succeed.