Dana Burde

Assistant Professor of International Education

Phone: 212 998 5052

Dana Burde is an assistant professor of international education at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, an affiliated faculty of the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and an affiliated research scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University

To read about protecting education from attack in Afghanistan in a New York Times Op-Ed please click here.


My research and teaching focus on humanitarianism, education, human rights, and political violence in countries and regions affected by conflict. In this context I examine how nonstate actors and transnational networks challenge and change norms and institutions.

This research agenda is currently dominated by my work on education in emergencies, or education as an element of humanitarian action. Providing education services during humanitarian crises and early reconstruction is emerging as a key element in humanitarian action. Humanitarian agencies view education as a way to protect children from violence, promote child welfare, and enhance stability in communities recovering from violent conflict.  Indeed, promoting education programs is no longer only a charitable endeavor; many consider it essential to promoting security (e.g., United States Agency for International Development, World Bank). This increased attention to education in relief work is reflected in the rising numbers of programs and the expanded role for education policies in post-conflict state building.

To contribute evidence-based research in this field, I launched a multi-year study to assess the impact of community-based education services delivered to civilian populations affected by war in Afghanistan. The most recent iteration of this project, which I conducted with Leigh Linden in Columbia University’s Department of Economics, examined the impact of educational services on children’s enrollment and achievement. In 2006, the U.S. government directed $24 million to a community-based schools program—Partnership for Advancing Community Education in Afghanistan. Comprised of four non-profits—CARE, International Rescue Committee, Agha Khan Foundation, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS)—the program fostered thousands of community-based schools across 19 provinces in Afghanistan. Taking advantage of an unusual opportunity to implement a rigorous research design in an early reconstruction context, we formed a partnership with the US-based nongovernmental organization CRS to implement random assignment of schools and program interventions to eligible villages.

With a sample of 31 villages and approximately 1,500 children between the ages of 6 and 11 in northwest Afghanistan, we randomly assigned 13 villages to receive community-based schools one year before the schools were supplied to the entire sample. This time delay allowed us to estimate the one-year impact of the schools on girls’ and boys’ attendance and knowledge of math and the local language, Dari. We found that community-based schools have a dramatic effect on children’s academic participation and performance and have tremendous potential for reducing existing gender disparities in rural areas in Afghanistan. Children are almost 50 percentage points more likely to attend school if a community-based school is available to them. Most importantly, the rate of girls’ attendance increases 15 percentage points more than their male counterparts. After one year of first grade classes these schools virtually eliminate differences in enrollment and significantly reduce the existing achievement gap between boys and girls.

The first phase of this project collected data on the cognitive skills, individual attributes, and experiences of adolescents aged 12-14 who were either enrolled in a government school, a school supported by a nongovernmental organization, a Qur’anic school, or who were unenrolled. Four findings are important in relation to the original hypothesis in the study: (1) attitudes toward education, (2) level of fear in children’s lives, (3) educational outcomes, and (4) influence of communitarian values on children’s attitudes and behaviors. For more information on this stage of the project, see the report here

Since its inception, this study has received approximately $750,000 from foundations including the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace and the Weikart Family Foundation. Institutes like Columbia University’s Institute for Economic Research and Policy and the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies were instrumental in the first phase of this study. 

Beyond the university, my work as an international education consultant includes assessment and evaluation of post-conflict programs in the Balkans; civil society building in the Caucasus; refugee education in Pakistan; and research on parent and community participation in community schools in Central Asia, Central America and Mali. I received my PhD in Comparative and International Education and Political Science from Columbia University; EdM from Harvard University; and BA from Oberlin College.

Audio Podcast

Click the play button above to listen to Dana Burde speak about her work with schools in Afghanistan

Selected Publications

  • Burde, D. (2012). Assessing impact, bridging methodological divides: Randomized trials in Countries Affected by Conflict. Comparative Education Review.
  • Burde, D. and Linden, L. (2012). The Effect of Village-Based Schools: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Afghanistan. New York: NYU Steinhardt Working Paper. (view)
  • Burde, D., Kapit-Spitalny, A., Wahl, R., and Guven, O. (2011). Education and conflict mitigation: What the aid workers say. Washington, DC: US Agency for International Development, Education Quality Improvement Program 1. (view)
  • Burde, D. (2011). Innovative methods in education in emergencies research: A randomized trial assessing community-based schools in Afghanistan. In Karen Mundy and Sarah Dryden-Petersen, eds. Educating children in conflict zones: Research, policy, and practice for systemic change—A tribute to Jackie Kirk. New York: Teachers College Press. (pp. 255-271).
  • Burde, D. (2011). NGOs. In Susan Talburt and Nancy Lesko, eds., Key Words in Youth Studies: Tracing Affects, Movements, Knowledges. New York: Routledge.
  • Burde, D. (2010). Preventing violent attacks on education in Afghanistan: Considering the role of community-based schools, in UNESCO, Protecting Education from Attack: A State of the Art Review. (pp. 245-259). (link)
  • Burde, D. (2009). Lost in translation: Parent teacher associations and reconstruction in Bosnia in the late 1990s. In Sobe, ed., American Post-Conflict Education Reform: From the Spanish-American War to Iraq. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Burde, D. (2007). Protecting Children from War and Ensuring their Prospects for the Future, Pilot Study 2005-2006: Preliminary Findings. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University. (view)
  • Burde, D. (2007). Empower or control? Education in emergencies and global governance. Current Issues in Comparative Education. 9(2) 55-64.
  • Burde, D. (January 2005). Promoting stable education systems after a conflict. Forced Migration Review. (link)
  • Burde, D. (2004). International NGOs and best practices: The art of educational lending. In G. Steiner-Khamsi (Ed.), Global Politics of Educational Borrowing and Lending. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Burde, D. (Spring 2004). Weak states, strong communities? Promoting community participation in post-conflict countries. Current Issues in Comparative Education. 6(2) 73-87.


  • 2007 : Spencer Foundation Grant
  • 2007 : National Science Foundation Grant
  • 2005 : Spencer Foundation Small Grant
  • 2005 : United States Institute of Peace Grant
  • 2005 : Weikart Family Foundation Grant
  • 2004 : Columbia University Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy


  • Politics, Education, and Conflict
  • Contemporary International Relations: Peace, Security, and Education
  • Comparative and International Education
  • International Development and Education
  • International Educational and Cultural Relations

Degrees Held

  • PhD Columbia University
    Comparative Education and Political Science
  • EdM Harvard University
    International Education
  • BA Oberlin College
    English Literature