Presenting on Social Network Analysis at SDPI in Islamabad, Pakistan

Last week I mentioned that I was asked by some members of SDPI to present a “brown bag” seminar on Social network analysis. Today, I cherished my first opportunity to share the methods to a renowned and prestigious institution in Pakistan. It took a lot of preparation, time and energy, but I felt I had done a nice service. Even if I was able to persuade just a few people about the value of these methods, and have the opportunity to share my ideas and research, it was no doubt a great experience. I have never done an academic presentation in Pakistan before, so this was the first time. I presented just a very basic overview of social network analysis theory and methods to set the intellectual foundation, alongside the key concepts and measures, software, and its overall application in public policy and specifically the value in development policy. I offered several examples of where it has been applied across various different fields, including the preliminary analyses of my own case studies in development within Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was also cool doing a little “network intuition” exercise I learned from workshops I have attended in the past, as well as sharing some info about the cool SNA software out there.

Most of the people who attended the presentation were not that familiar to these methods and a few fellows at SDPI are starting to learn them now. My presentation started with a rough estimate of 14 or 15 people in the room and by the time the presentation and brown bag was over, there were only 4 left, but I was grateful to anyone who attended and got something valuable out of it. I was informed by one or two SDPI attendees afterwards that SDPI should be using these methods and they were grateful for my presentation. I informed the SDPI that I was genuinely and sincerely happy they are looking into these research methods, as I do find that it can make promising contributions to their research and advocacy in the development sector. I really appreciated all the questions that were asked of me, including those of which I had no answers. Because I am curious about what those answers could be. One question had to do with what examples are out there in the development policy world where network evaluations have been completed for development programs and policy makers have received those insights and contributions and used them to improve policies and programs. I think this is emerging as a tool for evaluating programs, and I am eager to contribute to this discussion.

Overall, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to present on methods and research that I have been exploring for several years and over the course of my doctoral studies, and to have done it during the first two weeks of my fieldwork in Pakistan. I have been studying and applying network methods for the past 5-6 years, so there would certainly be a time where I would end up “teaching it.” Maybe there might be a “professor” deep inside me after all. 🙂

I am glad I had a chance to present for the first time in Pakistan, and it was wonderful to even draw a little interest among a few people, convincing them of the value of learning these methods. They asked me to come back and consider sharing my findings from my dissertation fieldwork, in the future, as well as potentially offer some trainings in social network analysis. I’d be honored to do so in the future.

For now, I think it would be important to continue to concentrate on my fieldwork. Presentations (not to mention workshops and trainings) are really a massive effort, and this was indeed time consuming and taxing. But it is only the end of my second week in Islamabad and I am anticipating more field interviews to continue starting Monday.



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