Dr. Eduardo J. Gómez is a Senior Lecturer in International Development and Emerging Economies in King’s International Development Institute. A political scientist by training, his research focuses on the role of institutional theory in domestic and international health policy. More specifically, his research explores how formal and informal institutional designs and change processes shape domestic government and international agency responses to disease. He has recently completed his first book titled Contesting Epidemics: How Brazil outpaced the United States in its Policy Response as well as a second book titled The De-Emerging Nations? Understanding Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa's Struggle to Eradicate Disease.
Dr. Gómez has published refereed articles in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy & Law, Administration & Society, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Globalization & Health, Journal of Politics in Latin America, Health Policy & Planning, Health Policy, Global Health Governance, and Studies in Comparative International Development, as well as invited articles and op-eds for CNN, BBC, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Brown Journal of World Affairs, European Business Review, Harvard International Review, Harvard Health Policy Review, Revista: The Harvard Review of Latin America, and the Americas Quarterly. Dr. Gómez has also made TV guest appearances on CNN and BBC America discussing Brazil's emerging influence.
Prior to joining the IDI faculty, Dr. Gómez was an assistant professor of public policy at Rutgers University in the USA, as well as a pre-doctoral fellow in the Politics and Governance Group of the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. He has worked on a full-time basis for the RAND Corporation, the World Bank, the George Soros Foundation, and is a veteran of the US Air Force. Dr. Gómez is also a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He holds a PhD in political science from Brown University, an AM degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.
In the prospectus, you mention that you planned to be a lawyer, but
then an optional course while you were studying at the University of
Virginia completely changed your career direction. What advice do you have for students who find themselves drawn to a subject area different to their chosen course?
What sparked your interest in international development?
My advice would be to be open-minded and go with what they're most passionate about. That's what universities are for – exposing students to new ideas and new possibilities.
For me, the one class I took on the politics of economic reform was eye opening. I was doing economics and political science but I wanted to be a lawyer, and I thought that was what I was supposed to do. But sometimes you attend a class or read articles and books that give you a different perspective.
I would advise students that if they come across a class that makes them very curious and keeps them passionate about a topic, then they should not have any worries about switching. Of course in today's age it’s important to worry about money and career prospects, but I think if you're passionate about something, you'll be good at it, and people that are good at things tend to find jobs and make a living out of it. So, that's what I would recommend.
What does your current research focus on and what do you hope to discover?
One summer, after leaving the US Air Force, I went to Southern Virginia where my uncle was and I picked up a book I got in the Air Force on the politics of world economy. At that time I was reading constantly about economics and so I thought I'd look at some international topics.
This book exposed me to all these different world reforms and market reforms, and I thought that it was amazing how certain developing countries were developing so quickly. This was a time in the nineties when countries were introducing free markets, so that just made me really curious.
So, when I got to the University of Virginia, I enrolled on the module I mentioned, the politics of economic reform. It was first my own curiosity, coming across a book on world economies, and then that book led me to do the course.
Who or what has inspired your research the most?
Currently I’m looking at health in the emerging economies. The book I'm finishing right now is called The De-Emerging Nations. The de-emerging nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) struggle to eradicate disease and I’m looking at why it is that these fast emerging economies are not taking health very seriously when it comes to diseases that most of the world has responded to such as HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, and now more recently obesity and diabetes. I'm really puzzled by why these countries, which are seen as the world leaders in economics, aren't taking these issues seriously.
This book provides a reason for why Brazil did better than the other countries in addressing these issues. On the one hand it deals with international reputation building, and on the other, building strong linkages with civil society. Brazil merged those two together while the other ones had one part, but didn’t have any of the other.
I just finished an article in Foreign Affairs magazine called “Smart Development,” in which I discuss how some smaller emerging economies that are performing a bit better than the BRICS. These are countries that are developing very vast economies but are also simultaneously investing in health and education and preparing their youth for the future.
I discuss Mexico, Singapore, Colombia in this article and I’m really interested in those emerging economies that are investing in their people as well as their economies. In my opinion those are really the future emerging powers, not necessarily China, Brazil and India. I think that we have to look at these smaller countries and their innovation. So that's what my research is doing right now, that's what I'm really interested in.
What do you enjoy most about working in London?
I can't say there has been one particular person. One of the people who inspired my work was David Waldner, who is an associate professor and political scientist at the University of Virginia. He really forced me to think about issues from a very analytical, historical perspective on the formation of states and the formation of institutions, so I was always inspired by that.
More recently, I've been interested in people who do combined statistical and case studies analysis, but there are so many people who do that. The problem in my field is that there are so many new scholars, so it's hard for me to figure out who has really inspired me.
But I would attribute a lot of my approach to David Waldner, and then at graduate school James Mahoney. Mahoney is at Northwestern University right now, but was at Brown University when I was a student and does historical research as well. So, I would say those two have been my biggest recent inspirations.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love the vibrancy of the city, the ethnicity, the multicultural element, the artistic element and the safety. I just love how it's a global city. There are people from all over the world. My students are from places like Mongolia and China, my landlord is German and my neighbour downstairs is Indian. That's what I love about being in London – it's just the diversity.
I love the country’s respect for its history and tradition. It’s a country takes that very seriously and I think few countries in the world do that. I like how the British are committed to proper laws, instruction, cleanliness and safety.
I love the culture – having so many museums and institutes and things that you can go to within walking distance – I think that's very unique. It’s also not as expensive as I thought it was going to be. It is an expensive city but personally I think that utilities, for example, are much cheaper here than in the US. The cost of living, if you're careful and wise, is very affordable. So, for all those reasons London is a fantastic city. I've lived in Washington DC, New York and Boston and of all the places I've been overseas, I haven’t found one like it yet and I'm not going anywhere soon!
Why should students choose to study international development
I love martial arts. When I was at high school I was actually competing nationally in taekwondo (I was once ranked 4th in the nation for my age level), so I took it very seriously. I stopped for many years and now I've started it back up again. I love running. That's a really important part of my daily routine. Thomas Jefferson once said ‘A strong body makes the mind strong’ and I've always really believed in that.
I love arts and I'm currently painting my first book cover, so I'm excited about that. A friend of mine has exposed me to theatre in London, so also theatre and movies. I like both mind stimulating, creatively stimulating but also physically stimulating activities and there's a lot to do in those areas in London.
What’s the best advice you could offer a GCSE or A Level student
I really believe that we have a wonderful set of scholars that work on various different topics from an interdisciplinary perspective. We have a lot of well renowned scholars who work on various aspects of development in the institute, from political and historical to gender issues, so the students get a broader perspective.
Other major universities take these issues from a particular theoretical perspective, such as economics or political science, but here we try to blend them together. It really highlights our interdisciplinary approach to research in the institute, so students get a wider perspective on development.
Coming to King's is a wonderful place to be a student in international development. There are so many conferences going on, many agencies and every week there’s a seminar on some aspect of development. The seminars themselves are another educational supplement to modules. I think those are the major reasons.
Of course we have lots of different activities for students too, and it's a very safe environment. There are a lot of things I want to do for the undergrads and I'm looking forward to organising some possible extra curricular activities with them in London. There is also a possibility that I can help them do a semester abroad exchange program at another university in an emerging economy.
Another thing I forgot to mention is the wide array of modules they can take in the institute.
hoping to study in the Global Institutes at King’s?
Since we are social scientists it's always good to have some exposure to social science, economics, geography and development, so definitely get training in those areas. If there's ever an opportunity to do an internship locally or go overseas for a summer, you should definitely take advantage of that. I think that offers great exposure to development issues and then you can see if you’re really interested in development.
In your personal statement be very specific and clear about why you’re interested in development and your inspiration. I've been going over applications and I'm really impressed by what students have done in sixth form and what they want to do. Don't be afraid to really convey your interest in development and what you've done.
Take courses that are relevant, try to get any experience you can, try to read The Economist and other magazines like Foreign Affairs that talk about development, and also read the news. Those are things that really help.