There is no better way to learn about international development than to travel to Europe for a firsthand lesson. Students and faculty in the International Development Doctoral Program (IDV) at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Park campus recently returned from a two-week study abroad trip in Brussels, Belgium, and Munich, Germany.
The IDV study abroad program gives students the opportunity to examine issues in the fields of economic development, political development, security studies and social and cultural development through interaction with scholars, policy practitioners and members of the general public in countries outside the United States. This year’s program included 16 students who spent July 1 – 14 in Europe.
“It was a pleasure leading a contingent of our doctoral students to Germany and Belgium,” said Dr. Robert Pauly, associate dean for the College of Arts and Letters and associate professor of international development. “I came away from the experience privileged to have had the opportunity to interact with such a driven and dedicated group of students and proud of how well they represented Southern Miss. Their consistently pertinent questions and engagement with our speakers reflected extraordinarily well on the program, department, college and university.”
The first day of the program began at the International Office of Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. While in Brussels, the group visited the European Commission where students and faculty were briefed on the relationships between the European Union’s many institutions, as well as the commission’s humanitarian assistance wing. Throughout the two-week program, the group continued with visits to the European Economic and Social Committee, the Brussels Office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the headquarters of the World Customs Organization.
“The 2013 IDV study abroad trip to Europe was a fantastic experience,” said IDV student Joy S. Patton of Mary Esther, Fla. “I had the opportunity to apply my theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. The program offered a professional experience in a very personal setting. Furthermore, the strong bonds I formed with my fellow classmates and faculty are guaranteed to last a lifetime.”
To complete their study abroad experience, participants engaged in a discussion session with the vice president of the European Muslim Network, a volunteer organization working to better integrate Muslim communities into European society. The discussion centered on the roles and standing of Muslim communities in European Union member states and the evolving identities of younger Muslims born and raised in Europe.
“Ultimately, I think our discussions with a broad swath of Europeans, ranging from students, business leaders, European Union officials, and non-governmental organization representatives were mutually beneficial and served to forge enduring personal and institutional bonds across the Atlantic.”
Students can earn six credit hours for taking part in the study abroad program, as well as an additional three hours for a preparatory course. The IDV program is composed of a diverse student body who attend classes from across the United States and around the world. Students’ backgrounds vary from colleges, universities, military, private sectors, public sectors, non-profit and non-governmental.
For more information about the Southern Miss Gulf Coast International Development Doctoral Program, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast/international-development-doctoral-program.