Classes have been going well and I hope to have a good idea of what I will do for internship and thesis within a month or so. In our technology and agrarian development (TAD) course we made a presentation on an analysis of a sluis and fish ladder nearby, next week we will each make a presentation on our views on GMOs. All groups will report on Bt cotton in India but will approach the issue from different viewpoints, one from that of an NGO, one from that of the Indian government, and one from the view of Monsanto. During lectures we have been talking about how technology is reflective of social conditions and how to consider this in rural development.
The rural development sociology (RDS) course has been mostly lectures. We have been learning about different approaches and perspectives in development. Some put the focus on technology transfer, some on the actors, some on top-down develoment, and some on bottom-up development.
And finally communication and innovation studies (COM) or (CIS) depending on how the professor feels that day is also going well. We have been discussing how to perform extension in the most effective and ethical manner. Traditional extension has been of the institutional type meaning the plan is written in a corner office of USAID or World Bank and implemented without adjustment for good or bad. Interactive extension considers all stakeholders and considers input, knowledge, and local conditions of communities in which the extension will be carried out. Interactive extension gives local actors ownership of the plan, caters to local needs and conditions, and is generally a less condescending method than institutional. We have also been learning what extension shouldn't be. Politics should be kept out, commercial links should be reduced, and motives should be parallel to those of the communities.
I have also been speaking with an advisor about thesis options and we have been discussing two options. I will likely either study best management practices in quinua production or alternatives to coca production. The first option would be a survey of whether or not producers are using best management practices (integrated pest management, soil and water conservation, etc.) and why or why not. This may be related to a variable such as farmer field schools, communal land holdings, fair trade production, etc. The second option would be to study alternatives to coca production. I would interview farmers about what they have done as alternatives and possible examine untested alternatives as well. This would be seen as an alternative to coca eradication campaigns (mainly or completely carried out by the US government). Both options would be carried out in an Andean country, namely Bolivia, Peru, or Ecuador.
The internship consists of around 4 months of paid or unpaid work for a development NGO, governmental organization, or international agency. A few options that I am looking at are the international fund for development (IFAD), institute for agricultural and trade policy (IATP), or the Peace Corps. If the option is Peace Corps Amanda and I would both sign up and the commitment would be 27 months.
Thank you for reading my rambling reflections on research!
Here are some links to what I've been talking about, please check out the site on coca eradication