Students are placed in teams of four or five and get to conduct two months of field research in their country of study, where they work with major actors in the field such as UN agencies, multilateral organizations and regional bodies.
Practicum projects, says CICR director Jean-Marie Guéhenno, are chosen on the basis of two criteria: “They have to fit in the research conducted by the CICR on the economics of stabilization of fragile states and/or post conflict recovery, and the host institution has to show a real commitment and interest in hosting students from Columbia.” Adjunct Associate Professor Marc Jacquand points out that the CICR program has already had repeat clients in Liberia, Haiti, and Colombia “based on the successful experience with their first projects with CICR.”
Second-year SIPA students who were part of the Practicum Series earlier this year will present their key findings and recommendations at 6.30 p.m. in Room 707 in the IAB on November 12, 2012. Here is a brief summary about the projects that the students undertook last summer, and their experiences with them:
Chopping Progress: An Assessment of Liberia’s Forestry Sector and its Impact on State-building
Students: Minhwan An, Hande Apakan, Sue-Ann Foster, Joshua Keller-Fish, and James Meisenheimer
Timber has played a key role in Liberia’s conflict. A quarter of the country’s land has been awarded to logging companies in the past two years through questionable means. CICR students spent the summer analyzing the impact of foreign direct investment in the timber sector on local communities and state-building efforts in Liberia. They met a wide spectrum of people for the project — from government officials to civil society to affected communities and produced a report that gives recommendations to the government of Liberia, UNDP, UNMIL, and other stakeholders on how to manage the timber sector and to ensure equitable division of benefits.
James Meisenheimer MIA ’13 puts the real-life applicability of the Practicum into perspective, underscoring how it allows a student to be an actual consultant: “For me, the Practicum experience culminated during the final week I was in Liberia. After two months of extensive in-country research, the Practicum team was able to meet with a member of the Security Council Panel of Experts on Liberia, Civil Affairs officers in the United Nations Mission to Liberia, and UNDP staff to discuss our findings and opinions on the issues in Liberia's timber sector. These meetings demonstrate the value that the Practicum provides.”
State Legitimacy in Haiti and its Implications for Governance, Natural Resource Management, and Inclusive Business Development
Students: Kayoko Ajlani Hashimoto, Audrey Hanard, Keenan Mahoney, Valentin Olivry, Seisei Tatebe-Goddu
This team of four students got to work on reports for three different units of the UN Development Programme in Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes. Their assignment entailed producing reports on election monitoring and governance, private sector reform and development and the reduction of vulnerability through environmental protection.
Says Keenan Mahoney MIA ’13 about his experience: “Through our group's varied projects in Haiti this summer, we were able to observe and contribute to the work being done by the United Nations across the country on the issues of the environment, elections, and inclusive business. This allowed us the opportunity to aid in Haiti's furthering development, and grant us the chance to reflect on how Haiti's issues mirror those experienced by nations in the developed world."
A Return to El Dorado: The Impact of Foreign Investment in Gold Mining in Colombia
Students: Aly Jiwani, Delaney Simon, Julien Barbey, Pushkar Sharma, Tory Webster
The team’s assignment was to focus on understanding how foreign investment in mining is affecting stability in Colombia. In particular, the team trained its focus on gold mining, because of the historical and contemporary significance of the commodity in Colombia. The CICR team discovered that gold mining is central to many of the major issues facing the nation today. They found that this is so because gold exacerbates a rift between the national and local governments, creates major competition between small-scale Colombian and large-scale foreign miners, and helps to fund the efforts of armed actors.
Says Delaney Simon ’13, “It was a tremendous learning experience to design and implement a research project that had so many important policy implications.”
So Our Children Will Know: A Report on Challenges in Natural Resource Management in Northwestern Province, Zambia
Students: Tarik Carney, Carlyn Cowen, Jesse Forsythe, Edward Janis, Zhiyao Ma
The students worked as interns for the UNDP in the Zambia Country Team Office and researched the impact of the copper mining industry and the practices of the Zambian Wildlife Authority and Forestry Departments on traditional communities living within the North Western Province. The students spent one month in the rural villages of the North Western Province conducting research, in addition to a month in Lusaka completing interviews with agencies and ministries of the Zambian Government. The final portion of their time in Zambia was dedicated to data analysis at UNDP headquarters.
"Our team relished the opportunity to conduct research with recent graduates from a local university, who gave us key insights into the thinking of the communities and stakeholders," says Edward Janis, MIA ’13 about the team’s experience.
Second-year SIPA students who were part of the Practicum Series earlier this year will present their key findings and recommendations at 6.30 p.m. in Room 707 in the IAB on November 12, 2012.
Special thanks to Delaney Simon for the project summaries.