2017 International Development Studio

27 04 2017

Today marked the end of the 2017 International Development Planning Studio, where students presented the international development project proposals they crafted throughout the semester. This year, the proposals focused on projects in Ghana, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Nepal, and South Africa. The titles of the projects were as follows:

  • Increasing Small-Scale Crop Production in the Nandom District, Ghana
  • After School Bilingual Cultural Program in the Province of Urubamba, Cusco, Peru
  • Vocational Training for Haitians in the Dominican Republic
  • Strengthening Outreach Potential of Agricultural Extension (SOPAE) in Mid-Western Nepal
  • USAID Proposal: Creating Self-Help Groups in South Africa to Aid Rural Women Empowerment

I’d like to thank Sophie Wenzel, James Foreman, John Lipsey, and Daniel Sumner for serving on the proposal review panel and for sharing their expertise with the students during the semester.

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CUGH Global Health Conference

5 04 2017

This weekend, Drs. Penny and Andy Muelenaer will be presenting the poster below at the 8th Annual CUGH Global Health Conference entitled Healthy People, Healthy Ecosystems: Implementation, Leadership, & Sustainability in Global Health. The conference will be held at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Dupont Circle.

The poster captures captures some of the work of Virginia Tech’s TEAM Malawi.





Two Study Abroad Opportunities

31 01 2017

This year I will support two study abroad programs that will take Virginia Tech students to Malawi and to Switzerland, Senegal, and Croatia.

The Experience WASH in Malawi course will take place from July 9 – 29, 2017 (Summer II), and will provide students with an excellent opportunity to undertake WASH-related research with a cohort of students from VT, Denver University, Mzuzu University, and Texas Tech. The presentation below provides an overview of the course and includes a few images from our 2016 offering. Students can apply here.

In the Fall semester, I will be co-leading (with Thomas Archibald) a module in the Dean’s Semester on Global Challenges in Switzerland and Senegal focused on food security. During the three-week module, students will explore the causes and impacts of malnutrition and food insecurity and the various responses of international organizations and NGOs to the global food challenge. From this foundation, students will have the opportunity to engage with international agricultural organizations and NGOs in Geneva, Switzerland, before traveling to Senegal to study two agricultural development programs – the 4-H and PPP program – managed by Virginia Tech’s Office of International Research, Education, and Development (OIRED). We are developing our module around the precepts of “fair trade learning,” that include transparency, community-driven service, commitment and sustainability, deliberate diversity, intercultural contact, community preparation, local sourcing, reciprocity, and reflection.

The video below provides a brief overview of the semester that will run from August 25 – December 13, 2017. Students can apply here.





UAP 5524 – International Development

22 08 2016

This semester, Bill Anderson will be teaching UAP 5524 International Development, which will replace UAP 5764G International Development Policy and Planning as the core class for the Graduate Certificate in Global Planning and International Development Studies.

The syllabus for the class can be accessed here.

UAP 5524 Course Description

Concepts and practices in the field of international development have changed dramatically over the past few decades and even the past few years. This course is designed to introduce students to the main theories, approaches, and practices in international development planning as implemented by leading actors today.

This interdisciplinary course examines the historical and contemporary practice of international development planning, especially at the strategic versus the project level. Students will consider issues and challenges facing low-income states, societies, and communities and will examine a range of different and often competing approaches to development.

Through lectures, readings, videos, discussions, written assignments, and group tasks, the course will explore international development from a range of different perspectives.

In addition to review and discussion of these topics, students will develop and practice skills in planning through the preparation of a strategic plan for a developing country in a major sector or sub sector.  During the class, students will work on, discuss with each other, present, and critique different elements of their strategic plans, which will consist of several components prepared in a series of written assignments, revised, and then knitted together in a comprehensive plan.  To complement the theoretical discussions, several experienced international development practitioners and academics will participate as guest lecturers.





Google’s Vwaza Video

9 08 2016

Google just created this movie of the trip we took to Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve during the Experience WASH in Malawi study abroad course I co-taught in July. I thought it was worth sharing.





Vwaza!

29 07 2016

Blog (4)Today was the final day of the Experience WASH in Malawi study abroad course. Having spent the last three weeks working hard on research projects, the students visited Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve – a national park to the north of Mzuzu. The lake in the park was full of hippos and surrounded by monkeys and gazelles, which provided our group with many hours of energized viewing.

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I have posted the three final presentations from each of the research teams below along with a short document from the Sanitation and Fish teams that provide an overview of their research and results.

While I may be biased, I believe this study abroad course has been an excellent experience for all involved – students and instructors. We are now looking forward to 2017 when we hope to build on the success of this course and take on new research projects that will have a direct and meaningful impact on communities in Malawi.

Fish Team

Fish

Fish Team Briefing Document.

Sanitation Team

Sanitation

Sanitation Team Infographic.

Mapping Team

Mapping





“Experience” WASH in Malawi

20 07 2016

Having reached the halfway point of our time in Malawi, the students are now fully immersed in their WASH-related research projects. When we designed the course, we decided to make research a central part of the student experience. Having spent a day with each of the research groups this week I can now see how important this experiential component of the course is for building a deep understanding of the WASH challenges facing communities in Malawi. The research projects are logistically and technically challenging, which means students need to work well as a team, learn new skills and knowledge, be proactive, and manage the enviable problems that come with real-world research. This week has also been characterized by the Mzuni students rising to the occasion and taking lead roles in the research projects. Their understanding of local communities and organizations and their mastery of local dialects has proven to be critical for each project. It has also been great to see the U.S. and Malawian students unite around a common research goal and work hard to advance the data collection process.

14Over the past few days the three groups have become known as the Sanitation, Mapping, and Fish teams in relation to their research projects. I have briefly described each project below and have provided a few pictures from the work of each group.

A hygiene and sanitation assessment of public sites. The Sanitation team is testing public latrines in schools, public transportation sites, medical facilities, and markets for E. coli contamination and administering short interviews to assess the sanitary conditions and use of the public facilities. The team plans to assess ten public sites this week and process up to 150 samples taken from various pre-determined locations in and around a sanitation facility. As is typical in a low resource setting, these facilities can be unclean and in a dire state of repair. But this was not always the case. The study of these facilities is providing students with a clear sense of the public sanitation needs across the city. It is also requiring them to visit locations they would never have seen if we only spoke about public sanitation in a classroom setting.

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Mapping the water and sanitation services in a community. The Mapping team is undertaking participatory mapping to understand the water and sanitation services in a community near Mzuzu University. The students are leading these mapping exercises and collecting GPS data that will be analyzed and integrated into one or more maps. These maps can then be used to identify the “gaps” between water needs and existing services to help the community engage in the planning of future water services. During their first day of surveying, it was clear that the data collection instruments were too detailed and needed to be revised/shortened. This experience reinforced the importance of piloting instruments before the full data collection effort begins, a valuable lesson for the students to learn.

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Risk of fish contamination from the boat to the market (Nkhata Bay to Mzuzu). The Fish team is undertaking an assessment of the fish supply chain from Nkhata Bay to Mzuzu. This is perhaps the most logistically demanding project, which begins around 3am as the fishermen leave Nkhata Bay and ends at Mzuzu market some 50km away where the fish caught that morning are being sold. The students are testing the fish, the fish handlers’ hands, transport vehicles, and fish containers for E. coli, and are undertaking interviews with fish handlers along the fishing, transportation, and marketing chain. This project is characterized by intense periods of activity and periods of waiting – such as when fishermen are fishing on the lake. Perhaps, the busiest phase of the research is when the fishermen return to shore and the middle men/women rush to purchase the fisherman’s catch. The students wisely developed relationships with the fishermen to ensure that they can sample their fish when they return to shore and before the fish start their trip to Mzuzu market.

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While we intended the WASH course to be experiential, I underestimated the importance of this aspect of the course, which is where much of the learning seems to be happening. The course provides a great example of the “hands on, minds on” principle that Virginia Tech is working to integrate across the institution. My hope is that we (VT) can develop a way – through initiatives such as Beyond Boundaries, Destination Areas, and InclusiveVT – to make this type of off campus experience open to all students attending the university. There are clearly financial and resource implications to realizing this vision, but the value to students is certainly worth the effort.