Saint Louis University

J. D. Bowen, PhD Receives Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award

J.D. Bowen, PhD

J.D. Bowen, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at Saint Louis University, received a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar award to conduct research at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia this spring.

Bowen's research examines how different economic development models influence policy debates and outcomes related to issues of sustainable development. He has been interviewing policy makers and business leaders in Bogotá, Medellín, and Cali in order to understand how they are confronting the combined political, economic, and environmental consequences of the recent collapse in commodity prices.

His preliminary findings suggest that the most important barrier to collaboration between the public and private sectors on issues of sustainable development is the national legislature, not because of ideological opposition to particular policies but because of the weakness of political parties. Weak parties inhibit the type of coalition-building that could lead to meaningful policy reform in important areas such as education, infrastructure, and environmental policy. Because of the weakness of political parties, interest groups bypass the legislature and appeal directly to executive branch officials. "We don't really know who our congressional representatives are, nor does it matter very much," responded a leading businesswoman in Medellín, "but I have the personal cellphone number [of the relevant executive branch minister]."
Bowen previously received a grant from the President's Research Fund to study how business leaders, politicians and leaders in the NGO community in Ecuador conceptualize sustainable development and how those groups interact to influence policy.

The Fulbright scholarship allows him to expand that work to Colombia, a country with a very different economic development strategy. Through his research, Bowen will be able to better understand the factors that impact the adoption and implementation of sustainable development policies. Sustainable development is a high priority in countries presently characterized by high levels of poverty and inequality. Bowen's work stands to provide critical insights into the best approaches for addressing these fundamental social problems.

Bowen has been working in Latin America for the past 15 years on a variety of political and economic topics. He has written about indigenous peoples and social movements, political instability, right-wing political parties, U.S.-Latin America relations, and issues of economic development and the environment. He has worked mostly in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Colombia.
The Department of Political Science at Saint Louis University offers B.A., M.A., and M.P.A. degrees and collaborates with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology to offer a Ph.D. in public and social policy.

March 31, 2016
Ellen Carnaghan

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