Where has the time flown? I guess when you get up in the morning and spend most of your time reading, writing and surfing, the next time one looks up, it's dark out and the stomach has reached feeding point. That is what it has felt like this last week. This is a new week and I'm ready to stroll down this path of academia again (as long as I've got one of these cheap 1.99Rand chocolate kitkat imitations in hand, cheap!). I went into campus on Saturday because downloading large articles off the web is much more efficient, so here I was just after a quick surf dip in town. Went surfing again this morning, nice waves, shallow and a westerly, but kept getting placed on the weak shoulder of the wave while about 4-5 guys were getting the meaty part of the curl. Time to get more aggressive on placement in the wave, I suppose!
I just got my hand on an Interesting journal article just about to go out from the Journal of International Development called, "Higher Education, Policy Schools and Development Studies: What should Masters degree students be taught?" by Michael Woolcock from Harvard (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/112637294/ABSTRACT?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0). I guess it is real nice whether there is an academic article that can reinforce the reason why I and my colleagues at the School of Development Studies are here and doing all this work for. He hits the target in describing that our job prospects will likely start off with a decent wage, a bit of responsibility and "little long-term job security" as is the nature of development. The way I think of it is that we've been taught about the volatility of the our current world and the need to dynamic people who are able to adjust to the job that needs to be done. Let's say, once one project is complete, one needs to already be looking for opportunities the whole time.
The environment at the School is completely collegial with faculty and students conversing in and out of the classroom about their projects and studies. It's been a pleasure being able to bounce ideas easily off another who does not necessarily agree with me but is able to give me just as constructive criticism. The degree program does provide an inter-disciplinary approach to study which I have found as a major advantage for me and my colleagues. Those who came to the programme who had their mind set on working solely for the international institutions are open to other effective possibilities in other smaller, well-run agencies that would have never crossed their mind beforehand. I especially like how Woolcock points out the growing interest in program evaluation and monitoring in development because I notice this to be a crucial area no matter which organization you work for and to be trained in this type of work has been very valuable exercise. I am unsure if I would have picked up such training except when finally starting a job. I guess graduates of development studies are distinct as "detectives, translators and diplomats" as described in the article and are trained to know how to give input on program impacts, help communicate to the poor and government the strategies of implementation programs and be able to negotiate and speak on behalf of the interests you have been asked to defend.
Coming from the one African university listed in the Appendix of development schools around the world, I'm stoked to be part of a community who will be the beginning of my professional contacts and strengths in this difficult area of work.