The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

PBPL 85 Visits the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia

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The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class visits the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia during thier two weeks of field research abroad.

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Leymah Gbowee, third from the right, poses with a group of female political leaders after mediating a heated panel on the intersection of women in politics and social media.  

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Students photograph the view of the Atlantic from the Carter Center in Monrovia.

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After 22 hours in the air, 5 airplane meals, and 3+ flights, we have made it to Liberia! 

We got to our hotel at 1 am on Thursday morning and after a short nap we left for our first meeting with Stephen Kissik, a Senior Police Leadership Advisor. He is an American that has been contracted to train and advise the Liberian National Police. Kissik discussed the lack of 'functional corruption,' or a type of corruption that results in increased economic productivity. In an ideal world there would be no bribery, but since there is corruption, Kissik argued you want it to result in a positive economic outcome. In Liberia, you may be able to pay someone to get a specific permit, only to be fined by another organization for not having their similar version of that permit. This makes it very difficult to start and run a business in the country. 

After lunch, we went the US Embassy in Monrovia to talk to Ambassador Christine Elder and her staff. We talked about very interesting stuff, but it was all off the record so... 

Then we met Nick Jahr, an Election Observer for the Carter Center. Jahr essentially watches elections happen in developing counties and submits reports in addition to recommendations on their legitimacy and fairness. His perspective was particularly valuable, since the Liberian election is currently on hold due to fraud allegations. 

Finally, we went to one of our most exciting event of the day. Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner (and previous Commencement Speaker at Dartmouth), mediated a heated panel on the intersection of women in politics and social media. Afterward she invited us to have dinner with her, along with her husband and activist friends. At dinner, she discussed her memoir, her son at Dartmouth, and the political impacts of tribal affiliations in Liberia. Gbowee was one of the most resilient and insightful people I have ever met.

Written by Savannah Moss '18, a 17F PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership course participant

This is part of a series where student reflect on their experiences during the field research portion of the PBPL 85:Global Policy Leadership course. The 2017 PBPL 85: Global Policy Leadership class is conducting two weeks of research in Liberia during the off-campus portion of the course, in order to produce a comprehensive policy memo. During Dartmouth’s winter interim, students meet with local policy leaders: politicians, academics, civil society leaders, journalists, business leaders, diplomats, and other in-country experts who help inform their analyses.

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