*Pictured: Student Lisa Williamson in Ghana
WUSC’s Students Without Borders® program, St. Paul’s University College and the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment have developed an innovative partnership to support undergraduate student experiential learning. Undergraduate students in the program work with WUSC’s overseas partners for 8 months during their fourth year of studies to gain comprehensive, international development experience while contributing to sustainable development.
Contributing their academic knowledge in environment and development, students work with a variety of WUSC partners in mandates as diverse as forest conservation, gender equality, refugee issues, resource management, community development, local economic development, microfinance and more.
A distinct benefit of this approach to experiential learning - which is fully integrated and at the end of a four year academic program - is that students are able to prepare for their placement experience from the very start of their studies.
Building upon the success of this initiative, Waterloo’s School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) and WUSC are now collaborating in support of SEED’s new Masters of Development Practice (MDP) program. The program is part of an international network of 25 universities supported by the MacArthur Foundation that strives to fill the serious practical and multi-disciplinary gaps in existing international development studies programs that do not match the needs and aspirations of young people today. Following 8 months of study on campus, MDP students spend 4 months abroad supporting WUSC’s overseas programming and partners. They then return to Waterloo for a final semester that builds on their field experience.
Larry Swatuk, Associate Professor and Director International Development Program in Tanzania
Both the 8 month International Development Program (INDEV) placements and 4 month MDP placements benefit not only to the student’s educational requirements, but also to the development goals of WUSC’s programming overseas and to its community partners.
Larry Swatuk, Associate Professor and Director International Development Program, SEED is excited at the impact of this program for the students as well as for the partners involved: “Ideally, over time the University of Waterloo will become a positive change agent, facilitating the meeting of development goals set by our community partners overseas. The students will ideally be conduits for this positive change… …as each year a new cohort of students will return to these placements.”