Friday, March 16, 2007

A rant on Development Studies; community formation and the internet

One of the leaders of the development studies club ( sent out an email about indifference and how people should get involved in issues. The personal and ranting tone his email adopted inspired me to respond: (note: dest = development studies)

Hey Mike,

I appreciated your email.

It's about indifference and laziness. We (in dest) all get that the issues are important, and have indicated so with our professional lives. Which I guess is huge. But I think that Dest isn't a career it is a paradigm. EWB is a great example. These are people with a different education, but do development.

I guess the point is that from a dest student's perspective, getting involved in grassroots issues is - at the most superficial level - career development. And at the deepest level, finding an identity.

I am in my 5th year and what I am finding as I am faced with venturing out into the world and leaving the cacoon of university is exactly what you are talking about. I am finding it necessary to get involved in issues because I need to figure out my identity and what I want to fight for. I am doing this by volunteering with different campaigns, and doing the things you identified as being so important.

So...what came to mind for me when I read your letter is that it would be great to have a website that can allow discussion between dest students and the uofc crowd (ie.linked to the dest club) focused on issues. One thing that I think is tough to overcome in our program is the generational gap between years. Maybe a central forum for discussion would help overcome this. (or at least be part of the package of the dest community)

side note: I think a discussion forum/blog/website is a good idea because dest students have a lot of issues to work out.

I guess the internet could be a way of exposing the underside of the dest club and make it easier to be involved. Not everyone knows/feels comfortable coming out to events and maybe if there was a way to make it easier to take the first step more people would get involved. (it is a theory - but ??).

Dest community is what I expected and was looking for, but didn't find until my fourth year.

An office/lounge would be awsome where people could go and discuss issues and connect with people that are in the same program.

I guess I am talking about points of entry into the club now. Currently, entry points into the dest community are: classes, dest events/planning and attending. I guess it would be great if there were more.

What you gues have done is great. It is already a much different dest student community than in my 1st year.


Maybe if there was a link from the dest website to a blog on dest issues and as it grew from a general topic it could split off into specifics, and kind of have a natural life of its own, reflecting the thinking of the community.

I guess we all struggle with the same question: What the hell do I do? Where do I fit in it all? Those can be pretty paralyzing questions if they are held on to alone, but they can be empowering if they are asked in the context of a community and answers can be found - however temporary - leading to action instead of the dest depression.

I think I have said this before, but I think getting involved is better for ending up with an issue/job than a dest degree.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

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