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Since its inauguration in 2001, the Polson Institute has been helmed by a Director and Steering Committee drawn from the Department of Development Sociology. It works to support the research of faculty in the Department of Development Sociology and to help them build collaborations across and beyond the university through a series of programmatic initiatives that include, among others, a Small Grants Program, Research Working Groups, and a Visiting Faculty Program. 

Currently led by Fouad Makki, the Polson Steering Committee members include: