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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA development program prepares graduates for careers around the globe

    Courtesy of Kristina Monroe Bish
    Daniel Kebede, a worker for Save the Children, doing field work in Ethiopia in Summer 2015.

    Development means different things in different circles. It can mean personal improvement if talking with a spouse, a new mall if speaking with a construction worker, or a new app if working with a tech developer. If you’re talking to Dr. Kristina Bishop, the Director of the School of Geography and Development’s Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) program, however, it means something different entirely.

    Development means “working to reduce the impacts of poverty around the world,” said Bishop.

    On a large scale, it could mean “improving national infrastructure,” explained Bishop. “On a smaller scale the word development extends all the way down to grassroots projects aimed at helping local communities gain access to the resources they need to stay healthy and safe.”

    In the U.S., the most famous development group is the U.S. Agency for International Development, which funds projects all over the world to address food insecurity, illiteracy, ill health, maternal mortality and disempowerment.

    This year marks the fourth year of UA’s new MDP program, which is one of only six other universities that offer a MDP. During the two years graduate students spend at UA, they focus on coursework that revolves around four cornerstones: public health, management, natural sciences, and social sciences.

    In addition to this interdisciplinary coarse load, students are expected to complete a practicum in which they work for a nongovernmental organization (NGO) somewhere around the world.

    “[One student] might go to Zambia for the summer and work on a project increasing women’s access to fisheries,” noted Bishop, “whereas another might work for Save the Children in Ethiopia.”

    Bishop stressed the practical nature of the degree; students who graduate with an MDP will be able to monitor and evaluate development projects, understand how to work in the field and be able to present their findings to a diverse array of audiences.

    While Tucson is not known as a national development hub, UA has partnered with a local development group, Tango International, which teaches the MDP management course and hires students to work on projects, allowing them to gain hands-on experience without leaving Tucson. UA also offers students in the MDP program the ability to tap into world-renowned UA departments for their elective coursework and focus areas.

    The program has already graduated two classes of 19 students who are now working on five different continents for governmental organizations, the United Nations, local non-profits and NGOs.

    A few of these alumni even found their post-graduate jobs through UA-organized practicums. MDP graduate Kara Luebbering, for example, spent her 10-week practicum working for the NGO Just Hope, and upon graduation she became the organization’s country director in Nicaragua.

    There are at least a hundred different definitions of “international development” and more than a hundred career paths to take with an MDP from UA. However, as noted on the MDP website, what ties each job and class together is a dedication to “reducing the grinding impacts of global poverty and defining the pathways to enhance wellbeing for the under resourced and socially excluded.” The UA’s MDP program is chiseling away a path to a better world.

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