Emory Report
February 9, 2009
Volume 61, Number 19

Scholarship opportunity
The IDN-CIPA scholarship offers undergraduates an opportunity to bring together all the elements of the academic enterprise in the exploration of a research interest in developing nations. The journey begins with preparatory coursework at Emory, continuing through the development of a research proposal, field study and presentation of findings.
Feb. 15 is the fall program deadline. For more information, and to apply, visit www.cipa.emory.edu.


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February 9
, 2009
Students abroad localize research

By Casey Dunning

An IDN-CIPA scholarship sent Kimberly Quinn to Uganda last spring, where she studied development and researched how a community’s planning of water resource projects impacted its women. In addition to classes and lectures on diverse development topics such as health care, education and politics, the Emory College student interned with an indigenous non-governmental organization to build improved water sources and train community committees to manage them.

This rural internship allowed Quinn the chance to conduct her own research on gender mainstreaming in water and sanitation services. “I shadowed organization staff and participated in rural site visits,” she says. Her research included conducting interviews and focus groups.

It is this combination of development study and a student-driven research project that makes the scholarship program, jointly run by the Institute for Developing Nations and the Center for International Programs Abroad, a valuable approach to undergraduate study abroad for students. The IDN-CIPA Scholarship Program offers Emory undergraduates an opportunity to pursue development-related research in the context of a CIPA-approved study abroad program.

Because students learn about development issues while doing their own research project, this research experience allows students to go beyond the classroom to explore local contexts and realities. In doing contextualized research, Quinn had to shift her agenda and reset her expectations to align with those of the community in which she worked.

“While my research participants had only a fleeting interest in discussing women’s traditional roles in water collection, my chosen topic, they passionately discussed the importance of the Village Health and Water Source Committees and the challenges of collecting water user fees,” she says.

Placing academic research within a specific context in developing countries gives students a distinct international perspective. “Our goal is to have students value local knowledge and not treat the developing world as a remote field site,” says IDN Director Sita Ranchod-Nilsson. “The IDN-CIPA scholarship provides a valuable entry point for longer term involvement in positive social transformation.”

Quinn has certainly taken the mission of the IDN-CIPA scholarship to heart, having expanded her research into an honor’s thesis in African studies under the guidance of her IDN-CIPA scholarship faculty adviser, Scott Lacy. After her Emory undergraduate career, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public health.

Despite the challenges of conducting research abroad, Quinn was enriched by the experience that the IDN-CIPA scholarship afforded her. “This was my first trip out of North America and my first time to the developing world. I loved it,” she says. “I can’t wait to go back to visit my homestay family and conduct further research.”