Course: Innovative Approaches to Development

Funded by: Catholic Relief Services Country: United States Date Range: 2017 Project Lead: NDIGD Notre Dame Collaborators: Keough School of Global Affairs

Throughout the spring semester of 2017, NDIGD served as a liaison between undergraduate and graduate students and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the course International Development In Practice II: Innovative Approaches to Development. The course served as a prototype for the first semester of the Integration Lab for Global Affairs, the first in a sequence of four Integration Lab courses in the Keough School of Global Affairs' Master in Global Affairs program. 

The course had three main objectives: 

  1. Teach students to examine the processes that bring about individual and societal change in an international context;
  2. Teach students to explore the roles, complexities, opportunities and constraints of development projects in areas such as poverty reduction, social development, health, and education; and,
  3. Help students develop practical skills related to project design, planning, management, negotiations, communications, and the evaluation of international development projects.

At the beginning of the semester, CRS tasked the students, through NDIGD, with researching several different organizational challenges and/or opportunities. The students were split into several development advisory teams (DATs) to address these issues. The course made use of specific case studies from Haiti, Peru, Bangladesh, Uganda, Mexico, Rwanda, Pakistan, and Chile, among others, drawing lessons from instructive stories of failure and inspirational stories of change. The course focused significant attention on “bright spots” in development– where specific interventions have made real and meaningful contributions. Students used these case studies, as well as group discussions and one-on-one instructor feedback, to craft a number of deliverables (including reports, presentations, and exercises) for CRS representatives who visited the class at the end of the semester.

Tom Purekal, program manager in NDIGD's Applied Innovation Division, served as the liason between CRS and the students. Professors Steve Reifenberg and Tracy Kijewski-Correa, co-directors of the Integration Lab, served as the instructors for this course.