Institute of the Environment 2017

UA Graduate Student Wins World Social Science Fellowship

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

by Paulina Jenney

Saleh Ahmed, a University of Arizona graduate student in Arid Lands Resource Sciences, was recently selected as a World Social Science Fellow by the International Social Science Council. The fellowship included a trip to attend a World Social Science Fellows Program seminar in Durban, South Africa, where he was one of 17  early career social scientists from around the world to discuss the future of sustainability and governance.

The seminar was devoted to the core theme of adapting urban governance to tackle poverty and environmental sustainability. “Each fellow presented his or her country’s case study, and then we tried to put aside our case studies and understand what the global development challenges are,” said Ahmed, who is also a graduate research associate for the program Integrating Climate Information and Decision Processes for Regional Climate Resilience, a collaborative effort among scientists at the UA and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University.

Here at the UA, Ahmed brings to the table his knowledge of his native Bangladesh, where poor coastal communities tend to be disproportionately affected by climate change events. His research focuses on figuring out what climate information is most beneficial to those communities and which methods are most effective for getting that information to rural Bangladeshis.

However, he pointed out, the solutions for a local problem in Asia might not work for a similar problem in Africa. The seminar, along with the World Social Science Forum 2015, which Ahmed also attended in South Africa as part of the fellowship, stressed the importance of understanding local context in order to achieve global governance and sustainability. “If you want to make a meaningful contribution, you really have to understand the cultural, financial, social dimensions of each issue. And then you can say, ‘We need this form of governance, or we need this type of program.’”

“It was an opportunity to make connections,” said Ahmed. “We will definitely have more collaborations in the future.”


Photo caption: Saleh Ahmed (far left) stands with several World Social Science Fellows at the World Social Science Forum 2015 in Durban, South Africa.