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Area studies students contribute to international development through advisory club: IU News

Area studies students contribute to international development through advisory club: IU News

 


Impact evaluation of a girl leadership program in East Africa. Training rural coffee farmers in Guatemala to expand their businesses to produce honey. Preventing and addressing the use of torture in Egypt.

These projects may sound like a United States Agency for International Development document, but undergraduate students at Indiana University's Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies are collaborating with real-world organizations to address these issues as part of schools. Global Development Consultancy.

Hamilton Lugar School students in front of flagsConsultants Sam Kirley, Harper Strahan, Micaela Fenn and Mohamed Izadine recently traveled to Washington, DC, to present their findings to the US State Department. Photo courtesy of Mohamed Izadine

The organization, which launched in the spring of 2022, gives participating students the opportunity to complete each semester one of several consulting projects for various international development organizations. Student advisors can take lessons learned in courses from the school that hosts the most area studies institutes recognized by the Department of Education as National Title VI Resource Centers than any other school in the country and apply them to pressing global issues.

Elisheva Cohen, global learning specialist at the Hamilton Lugar School and director of international education and outreach programs at IU's Center for the Study of Global Change, was part of a similar organization while in graduate school and saw the need for this opportunity in IU. .

Global consulting as a graduate student opened a lot of doors for me and helped me really understand what professional work in international development looks like, Cohen said. I knew our students at Hamilton Lugar were really hungry for that experience.

The group started the first semester with seven student consultants and one project; it has now grown to boast 28 student consultants working on four projects spanning the globe. Almost all consultants are undergraduate students, including some first-year students.

Over the past five semesters, IU students have conducted research and interviewed Burmese development workers to create short podcasts that raise awareness of the democracy activism and development work happening in Myanmar. They have helped The Hijabi Mentorship Project, a group that advocates for women's empowerment and gender equality in Kenya, identify global funding opportunities and created a comprehensive guide to support its fundraising initiatives.

In the fall of 2023, the organization bid for a project for Laboratory of Diplomacy, a State Department program that spares research and innovation resources related to global policy challenges for students and faculty experts at universities across the country. As part of the project, a group of consultants advised the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a region in Papua New Guinea that was recently granted independence. The team produced a guidebook for stakeholders outlining the steps needed to become an independent country recognized both domestically and internationally.

One Global Development Consulting team has spent this semester working with the organization Maat for Peace to make recommendations to ad...A Global Development Consultancy team has spent this semester working with Maat for Peace to make recommendations to address and prevent the use of torture in Egypt. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University

Consultants who worked on the project, including seniors Mohamed Izadine and Micaela Fenn, recently traveled to Washington, DC, to present their findings to the US State Department at the Diplomacy Lab Fair. Izadine said it's opportunities like these that have kept her involved with the consulting organization for three semesters.

Experts who are international lawyers who have done incredibly influential things are coming to see our presentations and asking us to email the final results, said Izadine, who is studying international law and institutions. We are making a real contribution to international developments and gaining expertise in areas that very few people have.

Izadine and Fenn, along with sophomores Cooper Kleinmaier and Gillian Zeuli, have spent this semester working with the organization Maat for Peace to make recommendations aimed at addressing and preventing the use of torture in Egypt.

The group analyzed the National Preventive Mechanisms, as described by the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, that have been used by nations that are similar to Egypt. They then assessed which mechanisms were effective and which were not and will present recommendations for Egypt during a presentation to the partner later this week.

One recommendation the team will make is based on a successful prison reform initiative in Ghana. An open prison system in the camp created a special place for low-risk prisoners to deconstruct prison environments. In the camp, prisoners engage in agricultural work and receive post-conviction reintegration training. The food they grow goes to feed other prisoners and they are paid for their work. The money they earn goes into an account they can access when they're released, reducing the number of inmates released into poverty.

Zeuli, a senior studying international studies and Middle Eastern languages ​​and cultures, said that in addition to learning how to communicate and work with people spanning several countries, cultures and time zones, consultants also gain confidence in discussing issues with experts. main. These skills have helped former student consultants achieve internships with clients and employment as full-time consultants in international development organizations.

We are able to walk into a room with people who have devoted their entire lives to this narrow field as undergraduates and have valued our ideas and expertise, she said. That alone will take us so far professionally.

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