Fellows and faculty from the Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) program recently returned from the Sanford School’s India Program for International Development Leaders.
The annual six-week program, launched by Sanford Professor Anirudh Krishna in 2014, combines coursework with hands-on field experience in rural India, giving Duke graduate students the opportunity to work with development professionals from local universities and organizations.
“It’s a valuable experience for both the students and the NGOs,” said Cory Krupp, associate professor and director of graduate studies for MIDP. “It gives the students a chance to work in the field on programs they actually help create. At the same time, the NGOs get a fresh perspective and can identify issues about which they may not have previously been aware.”
Krupp taught a course in globalization and international trade during the summer program. She also reunited with MIDP alumni in both Mumbai and New Delhi.
“The program teaches you that you can’t go in and take a top-down approach to development,” she said. “It’s about talking to the people on the ground about their needs and working with them and the NGOs to make progress possible.”
The program pairs each of the 10 Duke students who enroll in the program every year with a student selected by the Udaipur-based Indian Institute of Management and a nonprofit mentor working in the local district. Together, these teams of three develop project proposals that address a specific identified need in their assigned village that align with the focus and mission of the local NGO.
This year, second-year fellows Jonas Anazagasty and Shawna Brakebill represented MIDP in the summer program.
Brakebill partnered with the Aajeevika Bureau, an NGO that aims to address the economic problems faced by migrant workers and their families. She interviewed men, women and children in the village of Undithal, where daily and seasonal migration for unskilled, low-paying jobs is commonplace. Based on the information they collected, her team recommended lobbying for better skill development and training to encourage entrepreneurship.
Anazagasty worked with ARTH (Action Research and Training for Health), an NGO dedicated to improving maternal and infant health in rural communities. His group worked in the village of Palasch, creating a proposal for an awareness campaign to improve women’s knowledge of available services such as ambulances and delivery clinics.
“It was a phenomenal learning and professional experience,” Anazagasty said. “The mix of field time and classroom instruction really allowed all the students to get on the same page and work towards the final project. In the end I am extremely glad I chose the challenge of working in India with a group of unfamiliar people and for a good cause.”