September 11, 2012 – Shanta Devarajan, chief economist of the World Bank's Africa region, spoke yesterday at the launch of Georgetown Public Policy Institute's (GPPI) new international development masters program.
The new Master of International Development Policy (MIPD) program includes two years of classroom study and a summer internship.
Devarajan noted Africa’s rapid economic growth after 2009’s global economic crisis, but emphasized that the continent is still extremely dependent on commodities that don’t generate jobs and has educational attainment and infrastructure deficits.
“All of these require a huge amount of political change,” he said.
Devarajan, who has also served as the World Bank’s chief economist on South Asia, addressed how students can make policy changes in the region he now covers.
“I think the way Africa’s going to develop in the future … is to have an informed citizen – to have the citizens actually be informed about what is their duty, so that they won’t necessarily tolerate … political manipulation,” Devarajan said. “And that’s where the MIDP comes in, because first of all, you will be informed, but then I hope that you will then go on to inform the poor people of Africa so that we can all see that growth sustained.”
Addressing Global Challenges
The new master’s program also includes a client-based capstone project that allows teams of students to collaborate on real-time policy questions posed by leading international development institutions.
“Georgetown and GPPI prides itself on providing opportunities for students to gain an enhanced awareness and knowledge of the world, and to discover how they may contribute to its improvement,” said GPPI Dean Edward Montgomery. “The new MIDP program is one more way that the institution fosters this global perspective.”
Faculty and students at Georgetown seek to address some of the greatest global challenges of our time. This is complemented by the frequent visits of heads of state that come to speak on campus, Georgetown’s study-abroad programs, and efforts to create international community-based learning and social justice outreach to promote intercultural and interreligious understanding.
Care for the World
“You’re here because you have grasped the fact that the challenges that we face around the world with economic development are absolutely critical,” Montgomery said at the launch, “they’re absolutely important – whether we’re talking about HIV/AIDS, health care, education, or poverty – the challenges are enormous in their breadth and their scope.”
The new degree program joins GPPI’s master degree programs in public policy and policy management.
“Like many of the other aspects of GPPI, we intend to engage students with leading policy practitioners – people who are actually doing what we’re teaching you and equipping you in the field so that you can interact with leaders and first-rate thinkers in the field,” Montgomery said to an audience of students and faculty. “[Devarajan] is really emblematic of the kind of people you’ll have the opportunity to work with as you go forward.”
A Changing Field
Franck Wiebe, faculty director of the new master’s program, notes that the development field is evolving.
“This new program here at GPPI is very exciting, because it reflects a response to that changing recognition of how the development process works,” he said. “It’s a response to what’s needed and for people to be able to contribute in an important way.”
Nada Eissa, an associate professor of public policy and economics who helped formulate the program, stressed the importance of impact evaluation in the development field.
“What we hope to achieve is not to give students facts and information, or answers, but rather the ability to ask the right questions and to be able to use the tools in the appropriate settings,” she said.