About Us

The biggest social, political, and economic challenges affecting people in developing countries are multi-faceted and complex. The Penn Development Research Initiative (PDRI) brings together faculty and graduate students from 7 schools across the University of Pennsylvania whose research seeks to identify solutions to the challenges facing developing countries. PDRI seeks to foster impactful international development research by harnessing the expertise of its affiliates from various disciplines and utilizing diverse methodological approaches. Under the directorship of Guy Grossman (Political Science, School of Arts and Sciences) and Harsha Thirumurthy (Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine), PDRI serves as a launchpad for extramurally-funded research projects that include collaborations with international NGOs, local NGOs, and government agencies while also serving as an intellectual hub for Penn faculty and graduate students conducting research in developing countries.


Launched in 2019, PDRI affiliates work on projects focused on various aspects of international development including education, health, governance, environment, gender, urbanization and migration, labor markets, poverty, and economic growth. Through regular seminars, conferences, collaborative research projects, and dissemination activities, PDRI makes it possible for faculty and graduate students at Penn to expand their efforts to conduct research that advances science and contributes to the improvement of well-being in developing countries.

Connecting international development researchers at Penn. While many international development researchers are trained to use theory to formulate potential solutions to complex problems and test those solutions in real-world settings, individual disciplinary perspectives are rarely sufficient for solving complex problems. Addressing these challenges requires joining forces with researchers from multiple disciplines. PDRI helps to facilitate such collaboration across the Penn campus.

Connecting researchers at Penn to the world. Even the best research can be inadequate for solving problems if it is isolated from the world of practice. Local and international practitioners and various government agencies have valuable platforms for learning and critical expertise in implementing and scaling potential solutions. PDRI helps to facilitate collaborations between Penn researchers and practitioners. As such, PDRI is set up to pursue extramurally-funded research with international NGOs, local NGOs, and government agencies in diverse settings and topics.


PDRI’s affiliates hail from 7 schools: School of Arts and Sciences, Wharton Business School, Weitzman School of Design, School of Social Policy and Practice, Graduate School of Education, School of Medicine, and Nursing School. As such, our faculty and graduate students cover a wide range of expertise, both substantively and methodologically. PDRI is well-positioned to manage all aspects of research, from grant writing, research design, data collection, and data analysis to grant management and writing. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please contact us to learn more.


The work of PDRI is made possible by the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts (SAS) and Sciences and the UPenn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE).


Interested in learning more about PDRI?
Email us here: pdri-info@sas.upenn.edu
Follow us on Twitter: @pdri-info

University of Pennsylvania
Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics
133 S. 36th Street, Room 428
Philadelphia PA, 19104

Subscribe to the PDRI newsletter using the sign-up below.