Institute for Transnational Research and Development

We have all been in communities that are vibrant and thriving—and in others that are trapped in what seems like intractable, irreversible decline.

Can communities that seem to lack key resources they need to turn themselves around ever hope to change the course of their future?

The Institute for Transnational Research and Development is dedicated to the holistic regeneration of communities by engaging members in reflection and strategic action rooted firmly in their contexts. ITRD understands the inter-connectivity of communities across national borders, thereby working to strengthen their natural networks and flows.

"Conducting the assessment in Northern Africa required intimate knowledge of the interaction between geopolitical, politico-religious, and cultural systems. Fortunately, the training and experience of Urban Initiatives were at hand to ensure that the assessment and report were ecologically valid and useful to Linking in Aid (LIA). The report will be used by LIA to serve as a basis for appreciating what is going right with their projects as well as what can be improved, and to disseminate information about LIA’s transformative work to donors and others invested in the organization and its work."

— Colleague from California State University at Los Angeles

The Institute for Transnational Research and Development engages in the following activities:

1. Research
ITRD works with community-stakeholders to design and participate in high-quality research that will enable them to envision new realities by:

  • Reflecting critically on their context
  • Engaging in hands-on field investigations on questions of common interest
  • Analyzing and communicating findings
  • Identifying opportunities for meaningful action


2. Capacity Building
ITRD equips community champions to develop the capacity to act on social issues that matter through:

  • Designing contextualized learning tools
  • Facilitating practical training sessions
  • Catalyzing relationships with significant organizational and institutional allies
  • Providing expertise critical to the innovation and implementation of regenerative change strategies


3. Evaluation
ITRD partners with community-based organizations to evaluate their activities and to formulate new strategies of action by:

  • Gathering new and existing baseline data
  • Establishing agreement on concrete benchmarks for measuring success
  • Engaging key stakeholders in asset-based appreciative inquiry
  • Guiding value-added reflection to inform continuous improvement


4. Economic Development
ITRD assists community-based organizations to develop projects that will result in economic growth that is sustainable and has potential for transforming the communities through:

  • Providing best practice models and case studies of effective economic development projects around the globe
  • Training in specialized skills for small business development
  • Helping organizations to secure sources of funding for their projects.
  • Assisting government agencies with feasibility studies for community economic development strategies.

Case Study

Since 2015 Urban Initiatives’ Institute for Transnational Research and Development (ITRD) has been invited by Linking in Aid (LIA) to examine their work and determine whether their approach is sustainable and lasting, even after LIA is no longer working in a particular community. ITRD has now conducted participatory action research for LIA in Kenya, Ethiopia, and most recently in Djibouti. ITRD’s approach has been to train community researchers to assist us in gathering the data, analyzing it, and learning how their own communities have gained the capacity to form new strategies for a hopeful future that sustains and enriches everyone.

A community based researcher from Ethiopia says: "After getting the training and participating in the research work I was very much encouraged and discovered my vision and now I have already established an organization called Brook Hills Development. Now I am Executive Director for the newly established organization.”

A second community based researcher from Ethiopia says: “The methodology helps me to communicate with different people who have different views, culture, and attitude of the community members.”

Interested in partnering with ITRD?

We would love to make that happen. Send us a message.

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