At the University of Texas at Austin, Michael Kiel is pursuing a Master of Global Policy Studies at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a Master of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. He is a rising second-year student and is interning at the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN) this summer. Based in Skopje, North Macedonia, BCSDN is the executive headquarters of a regional civil society network, comprised of 14 member organizations in 10 countries and territories. The office promotes sustainable political development in the European Union, the Western Balkans, and Turkey. Working remotely, Michael has researched the role of networks and civil society organizations in international development. His capstone project, a report on donor strategies in the region, analyses the largest multilateral, bilateral, and private development organizations in the Western Balkans.
“As the European Union revises its Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance in the Western Balkans, the region faces challenges like the coronavirus, migration and refugee crisis, rising illiberalism, and shrinking civic space. My research incorporates reports and interviews with organizations like the U.S. Agency for International Development, the European Commission, and the Austrian Development Agency. I aim to recommend best practices for development, democracy, and statecraft.”