HOW DO YOU DEFINE A SLUM? Is it row upon row of concrete slab homes, built with the government’s permission? Is it an amalgamation of torn blue tarps, wood and tin, sheltering hundreds? Is it both? Public Policy Professor Anirudh Krishna and Hart Fellow Grady Lenkin (’14) want to find out. For two years they’ve been developing a research methodology to answer these questions in Bangalore, India. Krishna and Grady’s partnership, though, transcends just the technicalities of categorizing slums. Krishna has been an important mentor to Grady in the Hart Fellows Program, run by Sanford’s Hart Leadership Program (HLP). During the 10-month fellowship, fellows develop their leadership capacity through regular coaching and critical reflection of their work. Krishna is no stranger to HLP– he’s also mentored students for Service Opportunities in Leadership (SOL), a leadership and research service-learning track for undergraduates.
As they began planning Grady’s work in Bangalore, Krishna put Grady in charge of decisions on the ground. It was partly practical– Krishna says “I can’t be calling the shots from [Durham] through remote control. My natural inclination is to do that, both because I’m more experienced because I’m older and I’m the professor. But there’s a part of me that knows this won’t work.” But it also hints at Krishna’s teaching style, an approach he’s taken frequently with Grady. Krishna lets his students run with their ideas, shouldering them with responsibility and trusting them to make decisions, even if they are wrong. This approach, along with Krishna’s conscientious mentoring, has made Grady a full-fledged leader of the project. “The intellectual leadership of this project is shared. It wasn’t like that a year ago, but it’s very clear now,” says Krishna.