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Reflective diary?

Abstract

The purpose of this review is to consider the information gained during the sessions and looking at what I have learned from the sessions, as well as what I found particularly interesting for my own development of an understanding of international development. By completing this reflective diary I was able to track the information that I obtained and also to see how my own thoughts changed throughout the course. This was particularly relevant during the latter session where we were required to think beyond one specific area of international development, but rather to look at ways in which the situation could be improved or influenced, in the future.

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Introduction

At the start of the course I thought that I would mostly be looking at how some countries are richer than others and how this has impacted upon the way in which certain countries perform. I expected the course to largely focus on the poorer countries and how these can work with other countries although the focus soon shifted towards looking more at achieving and measuring development.

Session 1

The first session looked at the concept of international development and how this could be measured. I really enjoyed this session, as it required me to think beyond immediate definitions of international development, but also to consider why one would look for enhanced developments and how this could be measured, particularly when considering a wide variety of different regions and levels of development (Brockbank & McGill, 2007). I found this session quite challenging, maybe due to my preconceptions of what international development meant to me before we begun the course. As a result my level of participation was lower than I would have liked it to be.

Conclusion: By listening to the discussions of others it led me to thinking in much more detail about what exactly is meant by international development and why one would pursue an agenda of development, in the first place. Furthermore this introductory section raised multiple questions of how international development is viewed and questioned traditional definitions and assumptions.

Session 2

We then looked at social protection and how this can be applied alongside wider issues of international development. I had very little understanding of the meaning of social protection and therefore this seminar was equally informative, as it required me to think about wider issues than pure economic development. Social protection as a means of encouraging development was considered and the way that too much social protection may ultimately hamper development in certain circumstances. I felt quite strongly about the issues being raised so my level of participation increased quite a bit during this session. I enjoyed this session a great deal as I felt a real ‘human’ element away from just looking at money and the economy. Specific reference was made to areas where there was seen to be substantial social protection, for example, increasing benefits and how this has impacted upon the development of the region (Moon, 2000).

Conclusions: I found this study of social issues really eye opening and led me consider the notion that having too much social protection may, in fact, be detrimental to the economic development of the region. I also started thinking about how this issue could be used in all countries for the benefit of the majority in the future.

Session 3

This session looked specifically at the work of ERM. This organisation works with a variety of different agencies, in order to deal with a range of problems, to provide strong business outcomes, on an international basis. As the focus of this seminar was on listening to the experiences of this organisation participation was relatively low and although I found the session interesting greater opportunities to participate would potentially have enhanced this session. This type of primary teaching was seen as hugely useful as I was able to put some of my previous thoughts into context. It was particularly interesting to hear, from a practical point of view, how this type of international activity takes place and the types of assessments that are undertaken in order to identify any potential impact which international operations are likely to have on a specific region.

Conclusion: Having an insight into the reality of these issues was really helpful as I am starting to wonder how the theory of international development actually works from a day to day point of view and this session helped put a lot of the previous two sessions into context (Moon, 2006).

Session 4

Session four looked in more detail at micro-finance and what precisely is meant by micro-finance, as well as the positives and negatives associated with this type of financing. Firstly, I learnt what was meant by micro-finance, as this was not something that I had come across before, and dealt with small loans that were often used by individuals who could not obtain other financing and often used several small frequent repayments and would typically be unsecured (Kolb, 1984). I hadn’t previously considered issues of financing within the context of international development so I found this session quite challenging as the whole area was new to me.

Conclusions: Understanding that the positive aspects of micro-financing including the offering of finance to those that would not otherwise be able to have finance made me consider the fact that certain types of micro-financing may indeed be beneficial and that blanket decisions in relation to the viability of the type of loan should not be undertaken.

Session 5

This session was more in keeping with my expectations of international development and looked at agriculture as a way of helping developing countries. I actually feel quite strongly about assisting developing regions to make the most of their resources such as agriculture so I found myself really enjoying this session and participating rather strongly!

What I really took from this seminar was the need for jurisdictions to use the natural resources available to them and to maximise the use of these natural resources, without necessarily focussing international development in an industry or an area that is simply not relevant for these particular regions.

Conclusions: This made me question international policies and to consider how this could be used to create greater growth in the future (Carbonnier, 2012). Focussing on an area of development, namely agriculture was useful at this stage to see how international development can apply in specific regions.

Session 6

Looking at transnational migration was interesting but academically challenging. I found the mobility of individuals to be a particularly informative way of understanding international development and also understanding why certain regions, such as the UK, seem to be more prone to migration than others. It did however result in me questioning preconceived ideas of international development and to take a more liberal view of people migrating out of developing regions. This was linked with other theories such as how agriculture impacts on international development (Wedman and Martin, 1986).

Conclusions: By looking at the facts associated with transnational migration, it became apparent that this issue was actually much more widespread than I had originally thought, as money was often being remitted back to countries where the workers were not actually working, thus creating a movement of finance which was not readily obvious, yet was potentially crucial to the development of those regions that do not have their own internal finances.

Session 7

Session 7 was, to a certain extent, an extension of session 5 which dealt with agricultural policy and considered the way in which climate change can work and is relevant to international developments, which I perceived to be closely linked to any country which relied on the climate or natural resources, to gain income. As this is an area of interest to me I became heavily involved in the discussions and as the actual seminar was run by Oxfam an element of reality was also presented from a practical point of view. This was similar to the ERM seminar and brought the theory together with practice (Winter, 1995).

Conclusions: I found this very interesting, as I had not previously thought of climate change as being such an important factor in the developing regions. This encouraged me to think about wider issues when looking at a specific international problem.

Session 8

This session was also very enlightening, as it focused on the role of non-government organisations, something which I had previously overlooked. My preconceived ideas relating to international development were very much based on government interference and ideas however this seminar made me think on a wider basis about non government organisations.

By listening to a non-governmental organisation, a much more proactive understanding emerged, as it looked at ways in which it was motivating individuals to increase their knowledge and how the project could have a direct impact on the finances of a particular group of individuals.

Conclusions: This is the first seminar where individuals were looked at in detail, and this gave it a really good human feeling which I found useful to put previous theory into context (Keenan & Gilmore 2011).

Session 10

Finally, we had the opportunity to look at all of the above issues, in the context of Malawi, and how poverty in this region is being dealt with, as well as identifying the key factors which affected the wider region, such as financial problems (Mulholland & Turnock, 2012). This session was the most interesting I found as I had the background knowledge to put into practice and I fully participated in doing so.. Conclusions: Having studied the previous session, this session enabled me to pull together the ideas and also to use statistical data to analyse the level of poverty, in more detail, with a much broader background understanding than had been gained in the earlier sessions.

Conclusions

My original expectations of this course was that it would be heavily focussed on economics and trade yet there was in fact a much broader range of issues to be looked at. In particular I enjoyed the area of human interactions such as poverty in Malawi and the work of Oxfam in particular as this enabled me to understand the theories that I had previously grasped. I am looking forward to using these theories in more detail for international development studies in the future and in particular for looking at ways in which these different theories can come together to improve development in the poorer regions.

References

Brockbank, A. & McGill, I. (2007) Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education, McGraw-Hill International. p.169

Carbonnier, G (2012) International Development Policy: Aid, Emerging Economies and Global Policies, Palgrave Macmillan

Keenan, F & Gilmore, C (2011) International Development: A Casebook for Effective Management, iUniverse.

Kolb, D. A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as a Source off Learning and

Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Moon, J, A. (2000) Reflection in Learning & Professional Development: Theory and

Practice. Kogan Page

Moon, J (2006) Learning Journals: A Handbook for Reflective Practice And Professional Development, Taylor & Francis. p.81

Mulholland, J. & Turnock, C. (2012) Learning in the Workplace: A Toolkit for Facilitating Learning and Assessment in Health and Social Care Settings, Routledge. p.75

Wedman, J and Martin, M. (1986) ‘Exploring the development of reflective thinking

through journal writing’, Reading Improvement, 23, 1, 68-71.

Winter, R (1995) ‘The assessment of professional competences:the importance of

general criteria’ in The Assessment of Competence in Higher Education, eds A

Edwards and P Knight, Kogan Page, London.