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Tiernan Mennen, Director of Land Tenure, Human Rights, and Rule of Law at Chemonics International delivered a seminar in February about the impact of land and resource rights on development and conservation. The seminar was sponsored by the MDP program, the TCD program, and the Levin School of Law.
MDP/LAS Seminar: Dr. Robert Maguire, “Haiti and the Obama Administration’s Quest for Improved Aid Effectiveness: Promise and Perils”
Last Friday, MDP co-sponsored a seminar led by Dr. Robert Maguire, Director of the Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Program and Professor of International Affairs at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Maguire, a graduate of the University of Florida’s Latin American Studies program, is recognized as a leading U.S. expert on Haiti, having been engaged with that country since 1974. His current involvement with Haiti focuses on issues of U.S.-Haiti policy, politics, post-disaster development, and effective policy alleviation.
During his seminar, Maguire discussed issues currently impeding foreign aid effectiveness in Haiti. He touched on the issues of corruption and transparency, discussing the tendency of aid organizations to prefer dealing directly with Haitian contractors rather than work with and through the Haitian government, for fear of corruption and inefficient use of funds. However, Maguire pointed out that leaving the Haitian government out of the equation is not a sustainable path to development, as it does not allow for the type of capacity-building that would enable government institutions to take the initiative on their own development projects in the future. Maguire also talked about the tendency for some development institutions to be too short-sighted, sometimes being overly influenced by short-term foreign policy. He also believes that many agencies allocate too much of their funding to overhead rather than to the development initiatives themselves, which has meant that many agencies have had a presence in Haiti for over 40 years, when perhaps a more sustainable goal would be to figure out how to hand over responsibility to the Haitian government and other local officials, so that development organizations are no longer needed in the country.
Break is over and the 2014 Spring semester is underway! Come join us for the first MDP-sponsored seminar of the semester as Dr. Robert Maguire, a leading US expert on Haiti visiting us from George Washington University, delivers a seminar on “Haiti and the Obama Administration’s Quest for Improved Aid Effectiveness: Promise and Perils”. Hope to see you there!
In July 2013, the MDP Program was awarded a grant from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Public Education for Peacebuilding Support (PEPS). The grant was made possible by a cost-sharing commitment from the Center for Latin American Studies, Center for African Studies, and the UF International Center. The objective of the grant was to enhance the understanding of international peacebuilding and conflict resolution concepts and strategies among UF graduate students, faculty and others interested in the theme via a seminar series and workshop organized through the MDP Practitioner Forum Series.
UF students and faculty from multiple departments carry out fieldwork with international communities at local, regional and national levels, many of which have been impacted by past or present conflict. Developing a basic understanding of the concepts and skills related to conflict resolution and peacebuilding is important to students in graduate programs linked to Centers like Latin American and African Studies. USIP grant activities were designed to generate a greater awareness of, and interest in, international conflict resolution and peacebuilding among students by providing examples and encouraging discussion of the theme.
Three seminar events, organized and facilitated by MDP Program Coordinator Cindy Tarter with support from LAS Faculty member Jonathan Dain, were held on September 26th, October 17th and November 4th. The four invited speakers, Eric Hubbard, Dr. Joseph Sebarenzi, Judy Anderson, and Virginia Searing are each actively engaged in international work connected to conflict and peace in regions of Africa and/or Latin America and they shared their experiences with nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations and, in the case of Joseph Sebarenzi, his own government in Rwanda. The diverse approaches and stories presented included experiences from Guatemala, DR Congo, Rwanda, Liberia, Angola and South Sudan.
Specific seminar topics included theoretical analyses of conflict work as “development”, advice for future practitioners working in areas impacted by conflict, the mental health needs common to post-conflict regions, the role of women in peacebuilding, and personal experiences of surviving conflict and genocide. An emergent theme throughout the series was the challenge and importance of forgiveness as an element of the post-conflict reconciliation process.
The final activity funded by the USIP grant was an integrative and experiential Peacebulding workshop held on November 15th for MDP Students. The workshop incorporated and built upon the themes from the three seminars while providing conceptual tools designed to grow peacebuilding and conflict resolution skills and knowledge.
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The Sustainable Development Practice (SDP) Certificate provides hands-on training in interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in sustainable development for researchers and practitioners, integrating social, health, natural and management sciences. To obtain the certificate, students at the Master’s level are required to take 12 credits, while PhD students must complete 15 credits of required coursework.
Mary Rodriguez is currently earning an SDP certificate as part of her PhD in Agricultural Extension and Development, in which she is focusing on community development, food security, and gender.
Mary’s interest in agricultural education began several years ago, during her undergraduate experience at Texas A&M, where she became certified to teach high school classes in agricultural sciences. During her Master’s program at UF, Mary was able to apply her skills on an international level, serving as a study abroad course coordinator at Earth University in Guasimo Costa Rica, where she designed and recruited international participants for a course on rural sustainable development.
Following her Master’s program, Mary served in the Peace Corps in northern Cameroon, conducting capacity-building activities with rural women working in agricultural activities. She designed and implemented a program to strengthen the organizational capacity of these women, leading trainings about groupwork, elections, budgeting, record-taking, leadership, communication, and time management.
The SDP certificate was a natural fit for Mary’s experiences and interests, and she is especially interested in gaining a theoretical background in development theory to complement and give depth to her on-the-ground experience. She feels that as the certificate draws from many academic areas, it is well-suited for giving her a holistic and well-rounded picture of the interconnected nature of development.
Mary feels that the SDP certificate also complements her career goals – she plans to work in higher education, preparing future development practitioners for work in international contexts. She is especially interested in teaching about participatory research methods, organizational change, international communication and leadership, and agricultural extension.
For more information about the SDP certificate, please visit: http://www.africa.ufl.edu/mdp/academicprograms/sdpcertificate.html
The Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice Programs, in collaboration with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, hosted the First International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice on September 6-7, 2013 at Columbia University in New York City. The theme of the conference was Advancing Evidence-Based Solutions for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.
This was the first annual conference of its type, organized by the Global Association of MDP programs and the Organizing and Scientific Communities. This global organization is made up of the 24 MDP programs worldwide: 3 in Africa, 7 in Asia, 3 in Europe, 3 in Latin America, and 8 in North America. Jeffrey Sachs currently serves as the president of the MDP Global Association.
Several UF MDP students, alumni and faculty were in attendance at the conference. Core faculty member Renata Serra led a session on sustainable agriculture and food systems, discussing collective action as a solution to enhance women small-scale farmers’ access to markets. Assistant faculty member Thomas Ankerson also led a session on discussing clinical legal education in support of sustainable development.
Suni Brito, a first-year MDP student, collaborated with MDP alumni Kristen Augustine to lead a session on their experience with building networks and social capital among women in Jordan.
Hans Goertz, a second-year student, participated in a poster session networking activity, presenting his experience with implementing tree-planting strategies in Haiti. First-year student Alex Sprague also presented a poster on her experience working with nomadic gardens in Mongolia.
The conference was a great networking opportunity for UF MDP staff, faculty, and students, who had a chance to meet with several other MDP affiliates from around the world.