Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Concentrations: Shedding perspective on development and SAIS

"International development is the work of the practical idealist."

So writes Carolyn Nash at the outset of "Perspectives", a magazine published by the SAIS International Development (IDEV) program.

The latest issue of "Perspectives" provides a window both on changes in the development world and on SAIS.
Marwa Abdou (BC13/DC14)
shot the cover photo while in
Ras al-Khaimah

The publication challenges conventional development strategies which, as editor-in-chief Nash puts it, throw up "economic prescriptions imposed on developing countries from one decade's botched philosophies to the next."

Individual articles examine:
  • the likelihood of an international body to promote government transparency;
  • security challenges facing aid workers in the developing world;
  • the fashion industry as a vehicle for change in Ethiopia.
What does this say about SAIS?

First, consider that several of the authors are not from the IDEV concentration. Evan Fowler, a current SAIS Bologna student, is a Middle East Studies concentrator who writes about the future of Somalia in light of the country's new constitution.

Fellow SAIS Bologna students Martha Simms (European Studies) and Selim Koru (Middle East Studies) discuss how European trade policy can strengthen the economies of new Middle Eastern and North African democracies.

This cross-pollination is characteristic of SAIS's multi-disciplinary approach. Development issues are not the exclusive domain of IDEV. Nor are they exclusive to SAIS DC; as Allison Carragher, the first Bologna based editor of "Perspectives", notes, about half the IDEV class does their first year in Bologna.

You might want to read an interview with SAIS Dean Vali Nasr, who connects the dots linking global security and development, and concludes that the focus of development may be shifting from outsiders trying to protect those at the bottom to outsiders building the state.

There is even a poem by Prof. William Douglas, "The New Frontier Is Finally Here":

The field of development is evolving;
Old dilemmas we're close to solving.
Years of trials and errors provide us
With "best practices" to guide us....

So, as new ideas abound,
Our efforts year-by-year gain ground
So we'll see in each developing nation,
More popular participation.

"Perspectives," like SAIS, pushes our intellectual boundaries.

Nelson Graves

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