Photo Friday: #BYOB Workshop

For this Photo Friday we are sharing some snaps of Wednesday’s #BYOB (Bring Your Own Brand) Workshop.

DSC_0017

A massive thank you to Karalyn Brown, Founder of InterviewIQ, who is an excellent and engaging Human Resources expert. Her experience and knowledge of the industry was delivered with her approachable manner and she willingly answered questions from the students, finding specific solutions to particular cases.

DSC_0024

The workshop was a great opportunity for incoming students to share their thoughts and ideas with continuing students, while all learning about how to effectively approach the development sector as graduates.

DSC_0029
Coffee, tea, and cupcakes provided by MamaDuke was the perfect excuse to socialise, relaxing the students and creating a warm and comfortable atmosphere for the second part of the workshop on how to use and manage a LinkedIn account. I think each of us learned valuable tips about this fantastic professional networking website that we would not have easily known otherwise.

A big thank you to all those who participated and assisted in making the workshop possible and such a success. On behalf of the MIDP Association we hope that you found it useful and we look forward to seeing you at our next event!

Javier
Marketing & Partnerships (2016)

Choosing the Right Path for You

Photo from Shutterstock

I initially did not plan to study international development. When I decided to take on the challenge of a master’s degree my first choice was the field of conflict management and resolution. This owing to the fact that there has been a decades long armed struggle in the southern islands of my country with secessionist groups. I was immersed in this topic, being a student of international relations and politics and seeing how similar conflicts had developed in countries throughout Europe and Asia.

Originally I was set on applying to Monash’s Masters on Crisis Management back in early 2014. But as fate would have it, the program was removed and I was advised to look into the Masters of International Development Practice program, which was said to offer similar classes to my original choice.

The more I researched the MIDP program, the classes it offered, the applications it could have back home, the structure of the course of study, and the parallels it had with my interests (which were so obvious I failed to notice them previously) the more I saw myself in the field of development work.

Fast-forward to a week before classes, having the O-week orientation with Samanthi, and my head is spinning with all the different options for classes and streams to choose from. Because I am on the 96 unit course of study it meant that I had to take 12 units of undergraduate formation classes on international development, 48 units of core classes, a 12 unit capstone class, and 24 units of electives. The choice of classes for the electives being the prime shapers on the development stream I would be studying.

I hope what I am saying up to this point makes sense because to be honest, I was confused and overwhelmed as heck, but in a good and exciting way. I wanted to try everything out just to see what would fit my interests and needs the most. I wanted to take on the two streams of crisis management and sustainable resource management. What happened next was a series of lessons, discoveries, and the realization that I was not going to stick exactly to a certain stream but try and forge my own with the tutelage of professors, development practitioners, and even classmates.

Now I am halfway through the MIDP program and am pretty much set with the remainder of classes for the last 2 semesters that I have left. I am entering this next semester more at ease with my choices and having a clearer vision of where I can apply myself in the development sector. But instead of boring you into the whole story of how I have ended up with the ‘stream of study’ I have set myself on, I will try to give some pointers that have helped me out in what to look out for when deciding classes and streams.

A caveat though before we start: this list is not by any means exhaustive and perfect, some things may apply to you and some things may not. But hopefully it can be of help, even in the smallest of ways.

 

Tip#1: Read up on the course, its structure, and classes offered

First things first, get familiar with the MIDP program! I know this is an obvious point, but it is something that should not be taken for granted. Really be sure that you know and understand the structure of the program that you are on, and the classes that you need to take in order to graduate. Make sure to have enough room for your core units and capstone units when enrolling for your semesters, you do not want to be in your last semester and realize that you have failed to take one of those classes.

And while you are reading up on the MIDP program and getting all excited about the possible classes to take, check the schedules on when the classes are being offered and plan your units accordingly. There are some classes that are only offered in semester 1 or semester 2, and some that will not be available for a whole year even, so be sure to check the dates before setting up plans.

 

Tip#2: Look around the handbook

In the handbook entry of the MIDP program, there are lists of classes that you take as electives written under the streams of study. It is a great place to start with choosing units for the semester but do not limit yourself strictly to those options. Search for topics that you are interested in and see if there are classes offered that you are qualified to take.

Heck, even look up the handbook entries of different masters programs just to see the kinds of classes that they offer, more often than not, there could be related topics to development that you can enroll in since development is a multidisciplinary sector. Be sure though to consult your options with Samanthi to see if you will be allowed enrolment into certain classes. This brings us to the next tip.

 

Tip#3: Talk to people

Set up a chat with Samanthi if you are unsure about the classes to take. It will help if you have a goal in mind that you want to get from the MIDP program. For example, you are really interested in grassroots community development, urban development and sustainability, or disaster response and management. She will always have stellar advice on things that you can look into, and you will leave the meeting having more options to choose from but having a clearer perspective.

It will also help a lot to talk to your professors, especially if you are really hooked on the class that they are teaching. They might just have some advice to give to you for studying and working in that specific field.

Another good way to sift through prospective classes is to talk to your classmates. Ask them about classes they have taken and the things they have gotten out of it. And even if you are classmates are not on the same program, ask them anyway, you might just discover another class that relates to your stream of study.

 

Tip#4: Explore your options outside of the usual classroom

There are loads of other ways to get knowledge, advice, experience in development apart from the classes offered in university. Try joining organizations and projects that are related to your stream of choice, or allow you to practice a skill you have learned from class. You can also join or apply to seminars and workshops, there are plenty on offer during the school year. A good place to look out for them is on the MIDP facebook group. Although these are not going to be graded, attending these events will help you discover more aspects of development. I have been lucky enough to be part of MIDPA, Monash SEED, Colab M, and the Greensteps@Monash program, all of which have acted to enrich my development study.

 

Tip#5: If you are still looking to get classes that are not offered, try cross enrolling

Although I have not personally done this, I have looked into this option and know some people who have gone through the process of cross enrolling to other Universities and getting them credited for their degree. I would say that you should definitely look into this if you are really keen on taking up classes that are not offered in Monash but are relevant to your stream of study. If you are considering this option, I strongly suggest that you set up a meeting with Samanthi to explore this, and to know the requirements for cross enrolling.

 

Tip#6: Assess the classes you have chosen and see what kind of knowledge and skills you will be able to get from them

This one I got from my Colab M mentor and on one of my talks with Samanthi. In the development sector it is good to have a mixture of specific focused development issue based knowledge, and wide ranging hard skills that are transferable across topics. So once you have chosen your classes, try and see the skillset and knowledge that you will gain upon completion. These wide ranging skills can range from anything from writing (which is good for grant proposals and reports) to monitoring and evaluation.

As mentioned previously, this list is by no means comprehensive and exhaustive. If you have any other tips or nuggets of knowledge for figuring out classes and choosing a stream of study it would be great if you could share it in the comments below.

#BYOB (Bring Your Own Brand) Workshops

13694306_10154160115006210_1936866490_o

 

It is Orientation Week for Semester 2 of 2016 at Monash University, welcome back to the old-timers and hello to all the new faces!

 

This Wednesday 20th July, the MIDP Association is kicking off the semester with two professional development workshops at Caulfield Campus. We are delighted to be hosting our guest speaker, the fantastic Karalyn Brown, Founder of InterviewIQ. Discussing ‘personal branding’ and LinkedIn, this afternoon will be specifically focussed on helping students in International Development and related fields.

 

It is never too early to start thinking about your career, so join us from 1pm in Building C, Level 5, Room C503, and take control of your future today.

 

Workshop #1 Personal Branding

Personal branding is a term many people associate with being awesome on social media, thinking that their success in life is just about how well they present to others.

 

However having a killer and memorable personal brand is much more about being authentic, and understanding your values. That brand can help guide your career choices and lead you towards amazing opportunities and jobs, and in fact, help some of these come to you.

 

In this workshop you will learn, what a personal brand is, why a brand is important, how you can discover your personal brand and how to promote your personal brand to find internships and jobs.

 

You might even discover some passions you did not know you had!

 

Workshop #2 LinkedIn

With almost 4 million active users in Australia, did you know that LinkedIn is fast becoming the number one recruitment tool across multiple professions? Many employers are using the platform both to advertise their vacancies and to approach people directly for jobs they may have.

 

Some experts predict that in the future your resume will be much more about whether people can find you online and what they can understand from your presence, rather than what you present on paper. This means that right now you have an unprecedented opportunity to create possibilities for yourself in the job market.

 

In this session, building on the first workshop on personal branding, you will learn how to create a powerful LinkedIn profile, use it to build up a network that will sustain you through your career and how to work this profile to find great internships and jobs.

 

Our guest speaker, Karalyn Brown

Karalyn is a social media influencer, engaging people on topics around careers, HR and management. She has written for the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, CareerOne, Management Today, Recruiter Daily, Recruitment Extra and HR Leader. Karalyn has featured on Mashable, the BBC, Sky News in The Australian Financial Review, The BRW, News Online, The Daily Telegraph, The Age, Anthill Online, Cosmopolitan, Voyeur Magazine, and Latte Magazine.

 

She has also co-authored a book: “What do employers really want?” and regularly talks jobs and how to find one on ABC radio with Tony Delroy.

 

Karalyn has headed up recruitment practices in the private sector and managed the recruiting team for a large NSW government utility. She’s also sat on private and public sector interview panels as an independent and assessed as an expert in several assessment centres.

 

Over the past seven years, as Founder of InterviewIQ, Karalyn has helped hundreds of people find jobs. Her clients are from all over the world and have come from all professions. Her blog www.interviewIQ.com.au is one of the most popular careers blogs in Australia, and she has developed a global network of friends and contacts as a result of her social media networking.

 

With over 26,000 first degree connections Karalyn is one of Australia’s most connected women on LinkedIn. For the past eight years she has pioneered the use of social media as an innovative and online branding tool and was the first person in Australia to offer LinkedIn profiles as a professional marketing service.

 

The MIDP Association looks forward to welcoming you to our event. Please RSVP your attendance to midpassociation@gmail.com for catering purposes.

 
 

Notes from an International Student in Development

13632793_10153484102026486_1769011903_o
The view from the Arts Graduate Lounge, one of the many study spaces available on campus.

I am Natasha, a Masters of International Development Practice student in my second semester. My core area of academic interest lies in the field of international relations and development studies. As an Indian, this interest stems from the lived experience and conscious memory of seeing rising developmental issues, numerous diplomatic and military conflicts, genocide, human rights and gender injustices.

Throughout the course of my higher education I have been engaging directly and indirectly with questions relating to gender, conflict resolution and security in development practices and international relations.

Why I study in Australia?

It was a visit to Australia as a tourist during my undergraduate studies, that set me on the path to further studies abroad. I fell in love with Monash´s stunning Caulfield campus; it’s liberal environment, highly experienced faculty, welfare and support facilities, and the conducive living and learning atmosphere.
All these aspects, were surely going to make my time at Monash an extraordinary experience. And to top that, being able to learn at this much-lauded university is one of the best ways to imbibe multi-cultural diversity, develop an international perspective and understand the role of Australia´s development sector, which I have always wanted.

 

First weeks in Australia

Arriving in Australia as an international student, one of my first hurdles was the usually routine processes of opening a bank account, getting an Australian phone number, Monash ID, and OSHC card.

Getting important admin out of the way, on to the house hunting, where I was lucky enough to find a nice two-room place near the university without much trouble. Initially the distance looked minimal but as classes began and catching the shuttle bus became a major mission, I realised getting a bike was a smart idea and hence Gumtree became my best friend! I found a second-hand bike along with some furniture for the house.

Looking back after five months, I remember how getting a fridge, a microwave or even a donna became such important things and entertaining conversation topics.

 

First months at Monash

My experience at Monash as an MIDP student has already been an interesting journey. Firstly,everything is online, leaving me feeling a little technologically challenged. Coming from India where a lot functions the old-fashioned way, working with Moodle (especially while submitting assignments), Allocate+, WES, all these were both interesting and frustrating at the same time. But in the end I learnt how to spot various aspects of my course online such as presentations, discussions, course content. Everything was just a click away, and just like learning an instrument or sport, navigating Monash´s online world gets easier with practice

As an international student, understanding the Australian accent and its own colloquial slang words was quite the challenge. I have to admit to still listening to things twice, with double concentration to understand what the lecturers say or what my peers discuss. Hence, many times I missed out on jokes that went around in class and I would then appeal to my neighbour to explain what just happened.

 

Settling in and lessons learned

Being part of MIDP program, I have had the privilege of meeting some wonderful people from all across the globe. It is a pleasure to listen to their experiences as development practitioners working in various countries. It is great to learn of the ground-realities from the field. It helped me understand the similarities of problems across the world and hearing the various development practices working as solutions insightful.

Another important skill I have gained is working in groups, as a lot of assignments require us to work with 3-4 people. It is a daunting task to agree to what everyone else has to say. Sometimes most of your time can be spent narrowing down the various ideas without offending any particular person.

However, by the end of semester we understood each other well and had grown from being total strangers to friends. While I must admit, this friendship was mostly due to food and other hot topics that dominated our discussions, often more so than the academics! It is also comforting to know I am not the only one who felt clueless, there were others also in the same boat.


Studying development in an international setting

In India right now, not many places provide a specialisation in international development practice. After gaining an understanding of international relations and working for think-tanks and NGOs I felt that a more specialised understanding of development practices from issues emerging in the international community was much needed for me to excel in this field and to also carry out further research in the form of a PhD in the future.

Pursuing a Masters of International Development Practice at Monash University complements my academic and working experience. The MIDP program has so far been amazing, especially with a faculty from whom I believe I still have so much to learn.
The program allows flexibility for an interesting range of subjects, especially as I have found, for students with an international relations background. The multi-disciplinary nature of the faculty and students helps contextualise my experience of South Asian politics and international relations with global development perspectives.

 

Looking forward

After successfully completing the first semester, I move on to the second, feeling much more confident with an increased sense of belonging at Monash.

This semester I am going to be studying Project Planning and Management and am looking forward to learning project planning from an international perspective and using it in the future in a local context.

Aside from the academics, I am excited to meet new people, not just from MIDP but students from other courses as well. I am thrilled to spend more time at the new MPA lounge on the Caulfield campus and during exams, making the Arts Lounge my home again. Not so preoccupied with the fears of beginning the first semester, I am sure I will now enjoy experiencing the things I may have missed out on before.

 

My top piece of advice

As an International MIDP student, I am perhaps too young in the programme to make total sense of it all. My one recommendation is to spread out the core units, one during each of the first three semesters. As many of the students work part-time alongside the full-time course, it is advisable to space out these core units, allowing for a better understanding of them through a deeper engagement with their content. Doctrines, Project Planning and Research Methods, these form the basis of our programme and our understanding of development, give yourself the time to absorb all that they have to teach you.

Natasha
MIDP student

nrag4@student.monash.edu

+61 410 937 347

Director’s Letter

logo midpa-02

 

Monash International Development Association (MIDPA) is a student-run organisation. We believe that international development processes can be enriched by peer to peer conversations. For that reason, we began MIDPA last year, because we think that the knowledge, perspectives and experiences of students are unique and valuable, but these are not always heard in the classroom.

Our objective is to provide a platform for MIDP students to share with others and learn from each other. We aim to encourage the next generation of development practitioners to confidently challenge norms, think critically and explore innovation.

As I look back to the past semester and look forward to the future. We began the year with a much bigger committee, with passionate MIDP students, with great ideas and many plans ahead. I realise that we have grown and become not only a united student association but a group of students committed to the cause, willing to learn from each other and to develop their skills, and not afraid to speak-out.

It has been an exciting and rewarding semester for all of us, we launched the MIDP blog, and we planned our for future events for the semesters to come. And it is with great pleasure that I write to invite you to the our upcoming events:

 

Semester 2, 2016 Events

1. O-week Professional Development Workshops: Personal Branding and a ‘How to’ in using LinkedIn to get an internship or job: Wednesday 20th July 2016

The purpose of the Professional Development Workshops is to assist the students of the Masters of International Development Practice to maximize their opportunities in seeking internships and work following graduation.

The Professional Development Workshops will consist of two workshops run by Karalyn Brown, founder of Interview IQ. The first workshop will be based on personal branding and will assist participants in thinking objectively about their skills and unique added value, and to understand how to communicate this to potential employers. This will be followed by a workshop on developing a standout LinkedIn profile, and the etiquettes and strategies in networking and job seeking.

There will also be an opportunity for students to receive a professional headshot during casual mingling following the afternoon workshop.

 

2. Brown Bag Lunch Series

This event seeks to expose MIDP students to a broad range of cross-cutting skills and ideas presented by visiting and local experts and professionals working in development and humanitarian assistance, or in intersecting sectors.

These lunches are to promote discussion of current and relevant topics to enhance student learning experience and to challenge them to think creatively and engage in an informal learning environment. It is also an opportunity for students to broaden their networks and meet industry professionals.

 

3. Teach Series

The Teach Series is a chance to share with fellow students your area of interest/experience/passion/expertise. For example, your valuable insights can range from thematic areas such as gender, food security, education, sustainable fashion etc., or sectors such as tourism, marketing, technology. MIDPA is passionate about providing a forum for students to meet in a casual setting, share ideas and explore the variety of areas in the development sector.

The format will run just like the Brown Bag Lunch Series, as an informal chat, with B.Y.O lunch. You will be able to introduce your topic, and the specific areas that you wish to share, and then we will open it up to a casual discussion and questions.

 

Semester 1, 2017 Events

1. International Development Case Competition

Tackle a real world development challenge an organisation is facing, and work as a team to come up with an innovative solution!

The case competition seeks to provide a forum for students to engage with a hypothetical problem in a development context and propose theoretically grounded solutions that are innovative and aligned with international development standards and best practices. Students will be challenged to engage deeply with a country and theme, exploring its issues and identifying sustainable and effective solutions.

Our ongoing goal is to keep providing opportunities for students to engage in international development and humanitarian assistance through events, workshops, and our blog.

While we celebrate many accomplishments over the past semester, we also have to say goodbye to extremely passionate colleagues. However, we are looking forward to working with you as alumni.

Thank you for wholeheartedly being a part of the MIDPA. We welcome to the new members of the committee; and we are looking forward to much more in Semester 2 2016!

 

Sincerely,

Social Media: The New Frontier

Untitled-1

Recently news reports have had me acting out of turn. For the first time, I did the opposite of what I have always done when scrolling through my social media feed. Instead of passing by shared posts and comments that have had me internally voicing thoughts such as “that’s not exactly true/correct”, or even “that’s repugnantly stupid”; instead of this, I stopped and I entered the fracas. I waded into the back hole consisting of keyboard warriors, trolls, and the odd grandparent who took a wrong turn. I did this twice.
I must confess it was a rush. I felt like I was finally empowering myself to have my voice heard.

It might not be hard to guess which two recent events have had this affect on me, but it was the sentencing and discourse surrounding the convicted rapist Brock Turner (aka The Stanford Rapist), and the mass shooting in Orlando. These events alone are disturbing and traumatic, and lead to complex questions about how we, as a society, combat individuals who undertake acts of violence against others. Don’t get me wrong, Turner isn’t a terrorist, and the shooter, Omar Mateen, isn’t a rapist; their acts of violence are entirely different types. However they do represent segments of society who hold views that can lead to violence.

As a society we continue to struggle to combat this.

Whilst I don’t have the solution, I do have a proposal. We often cry out, it’s not all men, and it’s not all Muslims. It truly isn’t, but scroll through any public social media post and the voice of reason is hard to see let alone hear. If in reality we have the power of the majority, we should try to influence this throughout all realms, including the virtual.

To my close friends and family, those who know me well, it might be a surprise that I avoid nearly all topics that I study that is discussed via social media. I am an undergraduate International Politics major focusing on war and genocide, yet I don’t discuss politics, nor conflict. I hold a diploma in Human Rights Theory, yet online I avoid discussion of ethics and morality. I now have a Master’s in International Development Practice (long explanation short; think of the work that the U.N. and organizations like Save the Children and World Vision do, it’s like community development, but with a focus on the level of international engagement and with developing countries and communities) with a commitment to work with the purpose of alleviating poverty and inequality, yet I avoid topics such as the budget cut for Australian Aid.

I find myself questioning why. Recently the only realms you would find evidence of my own opinion, which I would put forth as relatively reasoned and informed, is on forums such as my Masters coursework page and this blog. I realized it’s because

1. I don’t want to be viewed as contentious, a ‘know-it-all’, and dare I say it, a bitch.
2. Challenging people to an open debate or discussion often leads to nowhere, and is usually reductive in reason and contradictory in values. Most of all, it feels as though people just want to be heard but don’t also want to listen.
3. I don’t wish to be overly ‘politically correct’ and have those I am openly disagreeing with feel that as a result they should not voice their opinions. I was raised to believe that it takes all types to make the world go round.

So I begin to wonder, is it that the more socially moderate we become, we also become quieter? Perhaps we believe so much in personal freedoms and expressions of opinions that we hesitate to challenge ideas, be they obscure, offensive, or even normative? We have become more uninvolved in the checks and balances of government and societal norms, allowing media and even the vacuum of social media to direct our information, which becomes regurgitated and repetitive.

As development practitioners, I believe it is part of our responsibility to wade into the fracas and challenge those voices that we would usually turn away from, and put forth the values of equality, respect and security for and of others, which we have dedicated our education and careers to help achieve.

So I appeal, it’s not just the forums and conferences to discuss and agree to some terms of peace or acknowledge a need for action where we should gather and discuss. We should also be speaking outside of our bubbles with those that surround us virtually and physically. With the friend who shares a Facebook post that innocuously supports a reductive rationale of terrorism and further alienates other community members, or the comment that places blame on a rape victim for being intoxicated. What we so eagerly strive to achieve through the Sustainable Development Goals; fighting hunger, alleviating poverty, overcoming inequality. This is not just achieved by our elected or unelected representatives. It is also achieved by each and everyone of us, by discussing and challenging in an open manner the ideas and morals held between us that differ and so that, most importantly, we may understand each other.

Beyond this, I believe we all hold this responsibility. All of our voices are worthy and should be heard; though we also need to be prepared to not just hear others, but to also listen.

The events of the past week, the evidence of a rape culture which continues to persist within our societies, and the exclusive dichotomy of Islam following Orlando that paints a reductive picture of good and evil. These are not singular events, but are shared by themes of power and inequality. The most damaging voices in these events though are not the extreme views, or those that are misinformed; they are the moderate voices that exist in the majority that avoid the social media fracas. People do not often mean harm by the opinions they voice, be it those who believe Islam is a violent religion, or that some should take responsibility to prevent rape, and more. However, unchallenged, we as a society will not be able to move forward together. The more we leave behind; the more their voices will demand to be heard. So, we need to talk.

I admire anyone who bears such confidence to put forth their values and ideas on social media. I have truly lacked this.

It does take all types to make the world go round. So I challenge everyone, let’s have a chat.

The MDP Global Association Summit – MIDPA Student Representative Report

13383608_10154211261043688_314958886_o

As the MIDPA Student Representative, Oliver Chapman recently attended the MDP Global Association Summit to represent the MIDP student body and to establish links with the other student associations and global network representatives. This role enables our voices as students, and our interests and achievements to be heard at an international level.

As part of the Student Representative role, Oliver has shared the following highlights from the Summit, with an introduction to the MDP Global Association.


What is the MDP Global Association?

The association was launched in 2007 with the aim of improving the leadership and training of future development practitioners who were to begin working in the field of development. A yearlong International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice, led by the Earth Institute, aimed to identify practical initiatives to support an emerging field of cross-disciplinary ‘sustainable development practice’. This ultimately led to the creation of the MDP Global Association. As of today, the Association is comprised of 32 MDP programs from all around the world.

What do they do?

The association arose from the shared commitment of the individual MDP programs to create a development practice that integrates the social, natural, and health sciences, as well as management. This is done by the sharing of ideas and best practices between universities and a Global Classroom initiative which is a web-based course that fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration between students and teachers around the world on the broad range of core issues facing development in the world today.

There is a process that universities must undertake before joining the association. Such considerations include a two-year curriculum with bios of the faculties which will teach the course, information on field training sites and projects and whether gender and development will be covered, and a few other guidelines. The guidelines establish a standardized quality of the programs which join the association, ensuring that future development practitioners will be adequately prepared for development work if they go to any of the institutions part of the association.

The MDP Global Association Summit

13405142_10154211260998688_709286773_o

The annual summit provides an opportunity for the global partners to review the past year’s accomplishment, and discuss plans for the future. It allows participants to share best practices between universities, continue discussions on the importance and relevance of the SDGs, and provide feedback on the activities of the past year and on potential projects.

As many of the participants are professors or associate professors, the conversations in the conference give great insight into how other institutions teach development.

The role of the student body, where the MIDPA Student Representative role fits in, also became more clear. My role as Student Representative is to advocate for the interests, rights, and needs of the Monash Students. I coordinate with the MDP Director (Samanthi) regarding school-based issues, and I also make sure our voice is heard by the Regional Director who can then pass on the information gathered to the Global Student Advisory Board.

More information and news can be found at http://mdpglobal.org

The MDP Global Summit Highlights – MIDPA Student Representative Report

13351237_10154211262013688_1713979288_o

Day 1
It was insightful to hear how different universities create their curriculum, and to see what they are influenced by. The SDGs appear to play an important role for the institutions in North America, with a few of the universities placing great importance on them, which in turn affects the direction of the curriculum. The approach is guided by the belief that this allows for the learning of cross-cutting skills to help achieve the SDGs.

Yet other institutions, such as Monash, acknowledge their existence and discuss them when necessary, but do not place the SDGs as a central focal point in course content. Despite a shared goal for development practice outcomes, there are variances in approach by the MDP programs. The purpose of the Global MDP comes is to assure the quality of each member institution, but that poses problems within itself. Many of these problems were discussed, hopefully with solutions forthcoming.

Day 2
The innovations from other universities. The presentation that stood out to me was by James Cook University, located in Queensland, Australia. Their fourth semester is dedicated purely to practical learning experience, with students required to spend two months working in a team of four in a field environment. Each team member has a specific role within the project, as well as conducting a research project of their own.

The strength of this project is that they get hands on experience working in the field and in a team, within a university setting, meaning the guidance of a supervisor for this period. This is an invaluable experience for them, and not something that can be easily replicated as a self-sourced project. The program’s success is due to the JCU contacts within Asia, and a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability, with many projects centred on this theme.

Day 3
With the conclusion of the conference, the third day consisted of a field trip to a sustainable housing estate which featured compost through recycling to grow herbs, and a guided tour of a mangrove forest.

13383933_10154211261468688_387226441_o

A delicately managed forest over 47,000 square meters, and home to a wide variety of animals, birds and fish. This particular mangrove forest is used to create charcoal exported to the Middle East and Japan. We were also able to visit the charcoal factory which generated interesting insights for a group teaching and learning about development.

For those interested in the process of mangrove cultivation for charcoal the process begins with 2,000 square meters of mangrove harvested annually and fumigated. This process, as pointed out by a professor, is toxic. Coupled with low pay for this work, local workers are hard to attract, thus relying on foreign workers who are more willing for various reasons to undertake this.