There are few precedents for Esther in our profession; right from the start of her career as a new assistant professor, she has taken on a rare combination of professional roles as a cutting-edge researcher, a catalyst of research for a new generation of scholars, a policy activist, and a public intellectual. Instead of diffusing her impact, this coupling of her intellectual agenda with her passionate social activism has begun to reshape scholarship, policy, public debate, and the everyday lives of many of the world’s poor.
Definitely worth reading in full. As RCTs gain in importance, its flag bearers need to combine their academic brilliance with a willingness to subject themselves to higher levels of public scrutiny. The role of the academic-policy activist goes a long way in dispelling notions of academics being confined to their ivory towers.
PS: I have enormous respect for Chris and have always been impressed by his ability to lucidly synthesise. He does the same with Esther’s body of work in this paper. Another example – this one from his own work on agriculture in Africa, is here.