Berkeley - Great experience. Ready to be scaled up?
Greetings from Berkeley. 6 weeks have gone already. Very intensive and productive time. My graduate seminar has absorbed quite a bit of energy but has been extremely rewarding. Competent and motivated students, rich discussions, great learning, for me as well. Also interesting to explore linkages with the curriculums of other UC Berkeley courses that deal with international development. The duration of my course was extended to cover more topics. I gave additional talks at the Master of Development Practice, the course of Sustainable Development in Latin America and the course of Political Economy of Hunger. I also received an invitation to talk at the course of Global Poverty and Practice. All this triggered by the tam tam made by the students. Only problem is that additional courses mean additional students… Many leave the talks eager to have follow-up conversations. Several of them inquire about internship opportunities. All this takes time. Tomorrow I am asked to speak before 100 students who want to know how UN agencies work and I know that it will not be easy to manage expectations.
Few professors approached me enquiring why my graduate seminar seems so popular. One told me: "I am really jealous". The answer is simple: students, graduate students in particular, want to connect to real life endeavors and to what development agencies are doing. They want to know both success stories and the difficulties and failures that we experience. (In this regard last week’s FailFaire came at the most appropriate time. Well done). They want to know what are the enabling conditions that can generate results and impact and where they can make the difference. This is great!
The preliminary conclusions I would draw are the following: i) there is an unmet demand in academies for practical experience; ii) IFAD can contribute to meet this demand by sharing its experience; iii) there are young talents out there who are willing to make the difference and deserve an opportunity to show what they can do. Perhaps we can discuss during a lunchtime seminar upon my return to Rome if and how this experience can be institutionalized. In the meantime, please let me know if anyone is interested to offer internship opportunities.