Graduate Student Serena Cocciolo

Serena has since taken up a position at the World Bank in Washington D.C. Before she left for the U.S. we had to find out more about her thesis and her thoughts on finally receiving her doctorate.

What is the main theme of your thesis?

My thesis focuses on a participatory development program implemented in rural Bangladesh between 2015 and 2017. The intervention aimed at providing safe drinking water to beneficiary communities and it is conducted in cooperation with the Bangladeshi NGO “NGO Forum for Public Health”. My dissertation consists of four essays. Chapters 1 and 2 demonstrate that some design choices - requiring community contributions and the scale at which to implement a project - can be crucial for the success of community-driven development interventions. Chapters 3 and 4 show that citizens care about participating in collective decisions for their community and that the exposure to participatory initiatives can foment demand for the adoption of new democratic and inclusive institutions.

How does it feel now that your thesis is in print and has been successfully defended?

It is a mix of feelings. Writing and defending my thesis has been a great achievement and the conclusion of a journey made of many exciting moments, long working hours, hopes and sacrifices. My thesis is also the product of a fantastic team effort and I am grateful to my coauthors and colleagues in Bangladesh, my supervisors, the IIES for having offered me a position as graduate student and Sweden for having funded my studies.

What's next for you?

I will join the World Bank Young Professional Program in September 2019. I will be based in Washington DC and I will work in the Governance Global Practice. My assignments and responsibilities will probably be different from a standard academic research path, so I expect there will still be much to learn. But I am excited about this new adventure!

We also want to take the opportunity to thank Michelle Brock at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for taking her time to act as opponent and providing her insightfull thoughts on Serena's thesis.

Finally, many congratulations to Serena and good luck with all your future ventures!