The Legacy of a "Living Classroom" on Local & Global Communities
Between 2012 and 2016 the Master of Arts in International Development and Service (MA IDS) provided a “living classroom” combining rigorous academic study with field research and volunteer service in the United States and in several overseas settings. The program offered an engaging, interdisciplinary experience preparing students for careers with community development organizations, international non-profits, inter-governmental agencies, NGOs and educational institutions. The program is being retooled and currently not accepting new students. Individuals interested in experiencing a similar program should consider applying to the MA in Community Psychology program. There is a study option available in that program to travel to Northern Ireland and the experience the Corrymeela Peace Center.
The MA IDS program was designed for students who had already earned a baccalaureate degree and wanted to pursue a graduate degree that combined the rigor of scholarly study with meaningful service opportunity. Graduates developed intercultural competencies, gained international development experience and formed a deeper understanding of how to navigate complex partnerships in and between global communities. Working across disciplines and looking through multiple cultural lenses, students generated innovative research, practices, and technologies to address development issues in ways that fostered creative, long term and constructive social change. Areas of study included: public health, peacebuilding, global nonprofit management, human rights, environmental sustainability, and migration studies.
The MA in International Development and Service covered four semesters. Two semesters were spent on the Concordia campus in Portland, OR, acquiring foundational skills and reflecting on field experiences. Two additional semesters were completed at two international partner sites where students received practical field experience through applied learning. This educational model constituted an experiential and praxis-oriented approach to learning combining theory, practice and research using the world as a living classroom.
The MA IDS living classroom pushed students beyond mere cultural immersion. They were intentionally confronted with “development” complexities faced every day by nearly two-thirds of the world's population. In addition, field study included working and researching within various organizations in the community through service-learning engagement.
Some Former International MA IDS Study Sites
MA IDS students have studied at various international sites. Students typically selected two locations and spent one semester at each site. Some of the international sites utilized by former MA IDS students:
1. CORRYMEELA – NORTHERN IRELAND, UK: Corrymeela is a diverse community committed to the healing of social, religious and political divisions that exist in Northern Ireland and throughout the world. Founded in 1965, it is the oldest peace and reconciliation organization in Northern Ireland with a residential center located near Ballycastle in County Antrim. Using Northern Ireland as a case study, students examined how communities can break down or flourish in the face of difference. Study centered on Community Development in Divided Societies.
2. MUSANA – UGANDA, EAST AFRICA: Musana Community Development Organization (MCDO) - The living classroom experience in Uganda brought students directly into daily contact with residents in the Musana community. Students lived with Ugandan host families and worked with organizations in Iganga to build applied skills and strengthen personal and professional intercultural competency. Experiences included a wide range of site visits including public hospitals, government school classrooms, international development agencies, subsistence farms, and urban slums. Students had an opportunity to connect with entrepreneurs who have their families out of poverty through microloans and engaged with empowered women who have broken the cycle of patriarchal dependency.
3. USFQ – ECUADOR, SOUTH AMERICA: Concordia University partnered with Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in Cumbayá, Ecuador, to provide an international site pairing field research and environmental issues. USFQ is the only university in the world with campuses in the Galapagos Islands and the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve in the Ecuadorian Amazon. These locations are some of the most biodiverse areas on Earth. Using Ecuador as a case study, students explored indigeneity, the environment and sustainable development with indigenous communities, civil society leaders, local politicians, scientists, and corporate energy administrators.