I have been enjoying Methodspace’s twitter postings and decided to join the discussion. So to start, a bit more about me.
I am a PhD candidate at Michigan State University in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies (CARRS). The breadth of this department allows me to find an appropriate focus. For me, that has been the practice and evaluation of community rural development especially in the Middle East and North Africa. I am currently completing data collection for my dissertation project, which is a qualitative study of women’s processes of learning in rural Jordan’s water conservation sector. My project was funded by a Fulbright-Hayes Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant as well as awards from my university, department, and advising professor.
I was first drawn to CARRS’s focus on the scholar-practitioner. I had worked for several years both implementing and evaluating rural community development, first for the Peace Corps in Morocco, then in New Mexico and Tennessee. I felt that a major confusion in the field stemmed from the split between academic or scholarly consultants, who appeared for a few weeks or months, trained or evaluated, then left, and the daily practitioners, who were often more poorly paid, overworked, and outcome-focused. It seemed to me that scholars needed a better understanding of the daily challenges and opportunities of community-based work while community workers needed stronger understanding of the concepts which underlie the tools they use. CARRS has allowed me to focus on both theories and concepts while engaging with community work in innovative ways.
The same focus on scholar/practitioner guides my continuing work. Starting this fall, I will be a graduate fellow with MSU’s Residential College for the Arts and Humanities. I will be working with Dr. Patricia Rogers on a program which will engaged undergraduate students in a girls empowerment program at a local elementary school. I hope to use this opportunity not only to study the process of learning and interactions between the students, but also to encourage the participants to spread their learning throughout the community. I envision this being a participatory process but we have not yet determined what exact tools we will use to empower the girls to express themselves. I’m sure I will be using the forums and discussions here to help define this project.
If you have insights or questions regarding my work and studies, please contact me.