By Brooke Jardine – NORC at the University of Chicago for USAID Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC)
In an effort to address and reflect upon the role of digital technology on international development, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) hosted a joint workshop from July 19-21, 2021. By engaging academic, governmental, and nonprofit experts in the field for a discussion, this workshop focused on identifying digital ecosystem factors that influence inclusive access and the use of digital technology and data; identifying knowledge gaps; developing research questions and ideas for further study; and generating insights about how results can be used to improve development outcomes. The workshop was structured under three main themes of discussion:
Identifying Levers of Change
Participants addressed key research topics and questions pertaining to each theme throughout the 3-day event. Using roundtable presentations, lightning talks, and breakout rooms knowledge was shared about where policy and research efforts should be directed. Many ideas centered around utilizing current and past research to forge inclusive ways forward in both research and policy, as well as focusing on solving current development problems rather than focusing solely on the interests of researchers. There were several areas of crossover between categories that included the need to engage communities and groups that lack digital inclusion and identifying key actors and their relationship in digital development and inclusivity.