Latin America and the Caribbean Moscow SSEA Shanghai
Africa and the Middle East
General Issues


Founding Director, Ford Family Program
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame


Robert Dowd is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and founding Director of Notre Dames Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity. Dowd received his doctorate in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. His research interests include African politics, ethnic politics, and the impact of religion on development outcomes and political institutions. He is working on a book manuscript titled, Christianity, Islam and Liberal Democracy: Lessons from sub-Saharan Africa. With support from the University of Southern Californias Center for Religion and Civic Culture, Dowd is studying the impact of the Catholic Charismatic Movement on social, economic, and political attitudes and behaviors in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. Thanks to support from the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation, Dowd is currently conducting a randomized field experiment in Uganda focused on assessing the effectiveness of religious leaders relative to secular leaders with regard to public health campaigns. The Ford Family Program, founded by Dowd in 2008, is part of Notre Dames Kellogg Institute for International Studies. Its mission is to integrate teaching, research and grassroots community engagement in parts of the world where extreme poverty continues to be a major challenge. Through the Ford Program, Notre Dame forges strategic partnerships with institutions of higher education, non-governmental organizations, governmental organizations, and religious institutions. The first of these partnerships are in Uganda and Kenya.