Chris Blattman

Come work with me to build two huge new research initiatives on violence reduction and recovery


Rigorous evaluation has changed the way we think about extreme poverty and how it can be ended. We have yet to see the same concerted effort (or results) in peace building, crime reduction, state building, humanitarian aid, refugee issues, violence prevention, and conflict resolution.

To change this, I’m helping to lead two major new initiatives: the Crime & Violence Sector at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), and the Peace & Recovery Program at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). Over the next five years, we expect to help dramatically increase the number and quality of studies in the world, grant many millions of dollars in research grants (small, medium, and large), support PhD students, offer multiple post-doctoral positions, translate all this work into public policy, and try to scale successful solutions.

We need some help.

J-PAL, IPA and I are looking for full-time directors for each of the two initiatives. Both people will work with me to develop new partners and studies, recruit leading academics and students to the projects, manage grants to these research teams, write for and meet with policymakers, and fundraise in order to be able to keep supporting this kind of work. And a hundred other things.

On the Crime & Violence initiative, you’ll also work with my co-Chair, Jens Ludwig, founder of the UChicago Crime Lab. While a lot of our focus will be international this year, J-PAL’s ambitions are to transform our understanding of North American crime, violence, and policing as well. In the near term, however, much of the funding we have raised is earmarked for Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and other low-income places. It’s my hope to raise substantial funds for Latin America, and the new directors will help.

With me you’ll also work closely with UChicago’s Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflict.

The IPA Program and Associate Program Director positions are advertised here. The Policy Manager position at J-PAL is advertised here. I encourage you to apply.

To see what success looks like, take a look at J-PAL’s Political Economy and Governance Sector (and its amazing Governance Initiative) or IPA’s Financial Inclusion program. We aim to be as successful and impactful as those.

In both cases we are looking for directors with a relevant Master’s degree and at least 5 years experience, or a Ph.D. and at least 2 years experience. There may be positions coming up for less experienced people, so if you are interested, it’s not a bad idea to apply to get on our radar. Developing country experience is probably a must. The more crime, conflict, humanitarian or related experience you have, the better. A background in impact evaluation and research management is also a plus. If you have amazing strengths in one but not the other, I still encourage you to apply.

If you’re wondering which to apply to, the answer is probably “both”. The J-PAL sector is more focused on crime and violence reduction, and criminal justice/security reform. And the IPA sector is a little broader in its focus not just on violence, but also post-conflict, humanitarian, and state building issues. But in reality the overlap will be very high, and each director will be the lead for all those issues in their organization.

Perhaps the main difference is that the J-PAL job probably requires a US work permit and a willingness to be based in Cambridge MA, while the IPA position is more flexible on both fronts. I am based in Chicago, and I will have a preference for people who can be based here with me. But New York, New Haven, and DC are technically options as there are IPA offices there.

See the ads for details of the positions and to apply. Feel free to post any questions you have here and I will try to answer. (I will not be able to answer individual requests by email or social media, and will not be involved in the hiring until the short list stage, so please don’t apply to me directly.)

Nothing about this blog post is official–it just reflects my personal preferences. For all official details of the work and process see the ads themselves.

17 Responses

  1. To see what success looks like, take a look at J-PAL’s Political Economy and Governance Sector (and its amazing Governance Initiative) or IPA’s Financial Inclusion program. We aim to be as successful and impactful as those

    golu dolls
    golu dolls

  2. I made my application to both the jobs a month ago, but I am yet to hear back. Does that mean that I am not shortlisted? Or, that the shortlisting process at both IPA and J-PAL is going to take time?

  3. Professor Blattman,

    The J-PAL application states that a permanent work authorization is a prerequisite for application. Does an F1 OPT (Optional Practical Training) authorization for one year count or should I not apply for the position?

    Thanks for your answer!

  4. Dr. Blattman,
    I see that these positions are funded through a five-year grant. Are you expecting the director positions to be limited to five years or to possibly go beyond that?

  5. Chris,

    You need to contact Darius Rejali about the Peace and Recovery initiative. Darius has been participating in programs to reduce levels of post-war violence for some years now, with an emphasis on reducing the incidence of torture. If I’m not mistaken, most of these programs are funded from Australia, not the US. Darius was in Nepal for an extended trip with the main one.
    An effort based on international cooperation between different funders would be supremely attractive to other funding sources.

  6. Thanks Chris for fighting against crime and violence!!! Hope my country (Liberia) will be among the list to benefit from this grant.

    I am interested in any internship opportunities in the US or Africa!!!

  7. The JPAL job is based in Cambridge MA. The IPA job does not have a specific base. Where did NY and DC come from? I am based in Chicago, and so that would be the ideal base. But NY, New Haven, and DC are all options as there are IPA offices there. I will update the ad to clarify.

  8. If someone is based in Chicago, is it possible to apply or are you only looking for people in New York or DC?

    1. On the length of the position, I imagine it is not guaranteed for more than five years. I can’t really imagine the person who took this job would be the kind of person to stay in the same job for more than five years though. This job is a means to great things not an end.

      On work authorizations, I imagine a minimum 2-year ability to work in the US will be necessary for JPAL but I can’t say for sure.

  9. There may be RA and other positions as time goes by. We may advertise for these jobs independently on my blog and the IPA/JPAL sites, or we may draw from the general IPA/JPAL recruitment pools. If these kinds of positions are interesting to you then you should be applying in the annual JPAL and IP recruiting drives.

  10. Hello Prof. Blattman, just like Eleni above, I was wondering if you’d be looking for Interns/RAs for these initiatives, or for any other relevant projects for current grad students? Thank you!

  11. Professor Blattman, you mentioned that there might be positions for people with less experiences. Will there be Research Assistant positions posted for these initiatives? If so, when and where can I find more information about that?
    Thank you,

  12. Thanks for these questions.

    These positions will be US-based, with lots of overseas travel, and over time we may have more junior regional positions. It’s too soon to say.

    People who want to publish papers should probably apply for the post-doc positions that will come up, or seek out research grants from our new initiatives as a PhD student or professor. These director jobs at IPA and JPAL do not usually offer the opportunity to publish academic papers. It can happen (and does) but it is not usual. There are several reasons for this. Most of all, this is the career track for people interested in developing and coordinating big policy research agendas at an organizational level. The director will be too busy working with policymakers, managing many different projects, and developing new projects or fundraising, to invest deeply enough in a project to be a coauthor.

  13. Professor Blattman, thanks for sharing these jobs. Do these roles also offer opportunities to publish papers with you or independently?