Leonardo Arriola, Professor

Closed (1) African Studies Research Assistant

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

Berkeley's Center for African Studies (CAS) is an interdisciplinary research center that supports cutting-edge scholarship on African societies, including their peoples, traditions, histories, environments, and politics. CAS facilitates faculty research, supports graduate student field training, and provides educational opportunities for undergraduate students.

We are currently accepting applications from students interested in working as CAS Research Assistants. By working as CAS Research Assistants, students will have the opportunity to learn how to conduct primary and secondary research, develop their analytical skills, enhance their professional writing, and gain exposure to international scholars. CAS Research Assistants who successfully complete their terms will receive recommendation letters.

Students will work closely with CAS Director Leonardo Arriola and CAS Associate Director Martha Saavedra on the following tasks:

- Conducting background research related to African politics, culture, and society.
- Producing materials for an online curriculum on the Horn of Africa aimed at the public.
- Writing “research briefs” showcasing Africa-focused research conducted on campus.
- Writing and editing materials for the CAS newsletter and website.
- Developing material for the CAS website and social media accounts.
- Organizing research seminars and conferences.

Qualifications: All academic majors are welcome, but preference will be given to students who have demonstrated an interest in African affairs through coursework or other relevant activities (e.g., volunteering, writing, study abroad). Students should have excellent writing and organizational skills. Knowledge of Word and Excel are required. Knowledge of online databases such as Google Scholar, JStor, and Lexis Nexis would be desirable. Familiarity with web design or web scraping would be desirable, but not essential.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs
Related website: http://africa.berkeley.edu/

Closed (2) Program on Security Institutions and Violent Instability (Police)

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

(This is one of three pieces of a collaborative project between Professors Arriola, Matanock, and Mattes.) Countries around the world are increasingly confronting violent irregular threats such as insurgencies and terrorism. Yet, many countries have proven unable to effectively deploy their security institutions (including regular militaries, paramilitaries, and police) when responding to such threats even if they have sufficient resources at their disposal. For example, while resource-poor Ethiopia has managed to mobilize its forces to successfully prevent most attacks within its borders by Al-Shabaab, the Somali jihadist terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, oil-rich Nigeria has repeatedly failed to coordinate its forces in preventing further attacks from a comparable threat, Boko Haram, the Islamist group linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Our project, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, is designed to explain why some states’ security institutions are more effective than others. To shed light on this question we will collect a dataset on the design of domestic security institutions across 102 developing countries and conduct detailed comparative case studies on six paired countries: Colombia and Mexico; Ethiopia and Nigeria; and Myanmar and the Philippines.

This part of the project will focus on compiling a data set on police forces and related civilian security agencies in developing countries between 1980 and 2015. We will be coding country-specific features of police organization, including mandates, jurisdictions, and deployments, with the goal of understanding how such features affect the effectiveness of governments in pursuing counterinsurgency and counterterrorism.


Undergraduate research apprentices will assist in helping to code the data on police forces using secondary materials, online sources, encyclopedias, and other reference materials. Research apprentices will also be asked to write brief case studies of specific countries.

The apprenticeship is designed to expose undergraduate students to how rigorous social science research is done. Undergraduate research assistants will learn about how to collect and process data that can then be used for statistical analysis and how to conduct detailed comparative case studies. Substantively, undergraduate research assistants will learn more about the variation that exists in countries’ domestic security institutions and how this might explain why some countries are better at fighting violent threats than others.

Qualifications: Research apprentices should be familiar with how to use library and electronic resources, and possess tenacity in tracking down specific information about particular cases. Strong writing skills are desirable as well. Foreign language skills are a plus, since some information might be most easily available on foreign country websites. Please note if you can read a foreign language in your application.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs