Connecting Development Practitioners and Students Online

by |December 14, 2010

MPA ClassImagine an online community that provides development practitioners in the field opportunities to communicate with one another and share best practices in real-time. Now imagine that same community enabling aspiring practitioners the chance to learn from these exchanges right in the classroom. An exciting partnership between DAI (Development Alternatives, Inc.) and our Master of Public Administration in Development Practice (MPA-DP), based at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, is making this a reality.

DAI is a consulting firm that focuses exclusively on international development, and has built a reputation for thought leadership and effective, results-based project management. The company recently launched the Center for Development Excellence to train development practitioners in all aspects of procuring and implementing development projects. The firm is providing a $107,500 gift to support a partnership whereby the InfoSpring Q&A Web site, which was created by the DAI-sponsored Development Practitioners Forum, will be incorporated into our development practice Master’s program.

Our MPA-DP program was sought out by DAI because of its global reach, interdisciplinary approach to solving development problems, and focus on the knowledge needs of development practitioners. DAI is committed to sharing best practices and successful innovations, by making it easier for practitioners to share and leverage their experiences with peers in different development sectors and geographic locations. The InfoSpring Web site currently serves a diverse, growing community and we are pleased to be able to leverage this resource for our MPA-DP program.

MPA ClassIncorporating the InfoSpring website will enable the MPA-DP program to enhance existing efforts to connect students, faculty and practitioners in the classroom and the field. “InfoSpring can have a unique role in the support of the growing population of front-line practitioners by offering a community platform for exchanging practical knowledge. Because of its practical focus on Q&A as a learning tool, it can also be a very valuable tool for academic programs,” says André Corrêa d’Almeida, the manager of the MPA-DP program, which is one of 22 programs developed under the Global Master’s in Development Practice Secretariat. The MPA-DP will provide a link to the InfoSpring Web site to encourage other MDP programs to also participate. “Moreover, [InfoSpring] will help enhance the MDP global network,” says d’Almeida.

Columbia’s MPA-DP program was launched in fall 2008 as the first program of a global network of graduate degree programs supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The global network is providing aspiring development professionals with the tools and academic background needed to make informed decisions of the depth and breadth typically required in their field.

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