Global Social Welfare

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 145–154 | Cite as

Global Social Welfare Academic Research Partnerships: Lessons Learned from Two Studies in Mongolia

  • Susan S. WitteEmail author
  • Denise Burnette
  • Toivgoo Aira
  • Sugarmaa Myagmarjav


Literature on scientific and ethical issues concerning research in low- and middle-income countries has expanded greatly with globalization, highlighting the need to prioritize health and human rights over sociopolitical agendas in NGO-academic research partnerships. The purposes of this paper are to examine the development of a long-term partnership of social work and public health researchers in the U.S. and Mongolia and to describe two illustrative studies of mental health issues in Mongolia. The National Institutes of Health funded the first study, which tested the efficacy of an HIV prevention and microfinance intervention in Ulaanbaatar. In the second, the World Bank supported a needs assessment of social welfare programming across Mongolia. We then draw on principles of the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) model to highlight three themes that were central in both cases: (1) intentional, strategic negotiation of power, resources, and knowledge, balancing contributions from global North and South; (2) flexibility to permit adaptation to changing political, economic, and social contexts in the host setting; and (3) early and proactive building of local government and NGO/global donor support to implement and sustain programming. We conclude with suggestions and recommendations for global North-South partnerships based on our experience and lesson learned, reflecting on our successes and achievements and unresolved challenges.


Global social welfare North-south Academic research partnership Mongolia 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

Research studies described in this article involving human subjects were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from individual participants in the referenced studies.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan S. Witte
    • 1
    Email author
  • Denise Burnette
    • 2
  • Toivgoo Aira
    • 3
  • Sugarmaa Myagmarjav
    • 4
  1. 1.Columbia University School of Social WorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social WorkRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Wellspring NGO, Zorig Foundation BuildingUlaanbaatarMongolia
  4. 4.Mongolian National University of Medical SciencesUlaanbaatarMongolia

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