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Friday, October 22, 2021

UC Davis enters international arena in economic development

In its second year, the UC Davis Certificate in Development Practice continues to offer hope for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by preparing students to diagnose and address priorities for sustainable development.

Following the last Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit Meeting where United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for greater investment in agriculture, the UC Davis Masters in Development Practice program has taken a role in improving social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries.

Offered through the UC Davis International Agricultural Development (IAD) Graduate Group, the certificate serves as a supplement to any existing UC Davis graduate program and is open to all UC Davis graduate students.

“The program integrates theory and practice from other graduate programs such as agriculture, engineering, management and public health,” said Dr. Paul Marcotte, IAD professor and associate director of the program. “Students will have the unique opportunity to learn first-hand about sustainable agricultural practices in the [developing] world.”

Through hands-on labs, students explore the four lenses of sustainability in the five courses required for the program, drawing from core skills in management and marketing products to a rigorous science-based approach to nutrition.

Students are also expected to participate in a practicum made up of two technical fieldwork experiences, one of which must be completed abroad.

“Last summer I took 12 of my students to Sri Lanka,” Marcotte said. “I plan on taking more groups to Mexico, Costa Rica and the Philippines this coming summer.”

Possible international projects include developing a business model for a mass-produced modular biogas digester in Guatemala or working on the small-scale organic production of rice in Sri Lanka, according to the program’s brochure.

Ultimately, the large breadth of courses and field experience are set to produce dynamic, well-prepared professionals with the necessary skills and abilities to effectively address the needs of local communities in the developed world.

The Certificate Program, funded by the McArthur Foundation, is part of a larger network of Global Masters in Development Practice Programs (MDP) that have been adopted by a total of 22 universities, each with its own emphasis.

The first of these programs was initiated at Columbia University in 2009 through a joint partnership between the McArthur Foundation and The Earth Institute, directed by renowned American economist Jeffery Sachs.

Since then, the program has gained worldwide recognition and merit, and the first class is set to graduate from Columbia this coming May, with many hopeful of the impact these students will make.

“We’re not sure where these students will end up,” said Brad Schall, interim program manager of MDP at Columbia University. “But we do know that the program has gotten a lot of credibility through McArthur and Sachs, and we expect that students will find employment in NGO’s, UN Agencies, consultants for multinational corporations or even bilateral agencies such as USAID.”

Likewise, Marcotte is confident that UC Davis students in the Certificate Program will find similar opportunities waiting for them.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis at cdp.ucdavis.edu/apply.

EHSUN FORGHANY can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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