Initial thoughts on becoming a development professional

This second post is confined to the two weeks spent in Rome doing the Intensives for the MA in Global development and Social Justice (GDSJ).

Had I known how intense the pressure was gong to be for the two courses in the GDSJ, I may not have agreed to do it. Having said this however, I did enjoy the course, meeting a diverse and amusing group of people, Cohort 9 was 20 strong, visiting different sites in Rome in the evenings and, on the whole coping with the content of the two courses for the two weeks. 10494755_10152526090725871_6701288444126448350_n

Increasing stress caused me to do a SWOT analysis of my situation in the very first week. We had been learning on how to go about planning interventions in global development and social justice situations and that tool came in handy. Using that analysis I realized three things: I had to be more patient with myself for the content was very new most of the time; that having basic computer skills was not enough to do Prof Rioux’s course successfully, and that my favourite sites of late on the internet contained some types of information not yet found in books or Journals- later I realized they were indeed blogs. While my idea of a blog was a mix of text and pictures, those that I regularly read used texts almost exclusively. To my surprise the directions for this final blog for Information resources for GDSJ from Prof. Rioux were more inclusive of media and texts, and by its very nature demanded more research. More stress!

I mention the “unknown” familiarity with blogs because I see them as sources for research. Apart from the two blog sites I frequented for up-to-date information on bioethics, I now appreciate even more the one edited by Sheila Liaugminas on the site The page banner is called “Demography is Destiny and the byline is “human dignity and world population”. All these keywords are important and were actually used in my practice assignments while researching how to use the databases and the library during the course. The site gives its sources of information, its writer is a well-known commentator of the US political scene, and there is an unambiguous moral stance in discussing contents. I sometimes contributed comments to discussions, but did more of that on the bioethics sites. The url for Mercator net is: Having done this course, the topics from the RSS feed on the blog of April 14, 2014, have spurred me on to have and to share info: Are we ready for the “grey tsunami”; Iran leads Muslim countries in fertility decline; and my favourite (I printed the blog) Why you shouldn’t take alarmist population predictions seriously. As a result I can go to the following site to do some cross-cultural research: Since I am really interested in population ageing and the implications for our society in the Caribbean and the wider world, I include a snapshot of Ageways, the bimonthly newsletter Global Age Watch that is published by HelpAge International. Their site is found at [Insert Snapshot] To these links I add one to the BSEC site, Bioethics Society of the English Speaking Caribbean, where I submitted a short article which asked whether we (in the Caribbean) were prepared to deal with the question of euthanasia. That link is As mentioned previously, specific content must be included in this blog. I did experience a learning curve where the Projects were concerned, and there was never enough time to fully assimilate the new material. In the Jing presentation attached, I had wanted to include two pictures and use a slide effect but never got around to acquiring that skill. Even at the moment of writing, I have not been able to go back to it because of the demands of other assignments. I have therefore attached a crowd shot of carnival revelers in costume to complement the single shot with the same theme used in the Jing. (Insert picture here). The Jing was done in the context of preserving carnival as a cultural product and of its being swallowed up by Brazilian influences where costuming is concerned. Insert Jing. (Jing refused by WordPress)

The themes of social justice were paramount in most of the exercises attempted. Since I am concerned about aging people, that theme more or less informed the Excel project. There I compare population and age trends between 1995 and 2010 in Jamaica and Trinidad. The Powerpoint Project deals with Social Justice and the attempt to have a more holistic understanding to what it means. Various media are used there.AthenePPTonSocial Justice

The attached file is used to provide another dimension to the themes inherent in global development and social justice, namely access to information and the power dynamics contained therein. It is a theme that interests me. [Module 5.2 is attached to the Zotero Project as I was unable to transfer selected items from the Annotated Bibliography into Module 5.2]ZoteroAnnotated Bibliography APA

With the Zotero Project I felt most challenged and even though I can appreciate its power for citing, editing and research, I am still very far from understanding it. We were asked to provide annotated bibliographies using Zotero. It was one thing to use two methods to input the texts; it is another to be sure the conversion to APA style is done properly. In the first exercise I kept getting notices like “this item is not supported” when I was using Identifier numbers and DOI’s to input books and journals. Had there been a Workshop for Zotero, I would have been less at sea. It is one thing to go to the sites and try to follow the tutorials which by the way are not exactly alike. I used three tutorials before I hit on a straightforward one on how to embed YouTube files in presentations. Time management is critical, and course designers have to be alert to this fact where Intensives are concerned.
How am I shaping up to be a development professional? I am not sure. Computer skills are only one aspect of the process. I will need time to master those skills and like using the Matrix for Project Management as in the other course, it comes with practice. I will never be hooked on the smartphone as some other members of Cohort 9 seemed to be. Blogging takes up much of one’s time as well, and I have a healthy respect for information overload. I relax by listening to radio serials (BBC Radio 4 Extra) or gardening or music. And I missed all three over the past 4 weeks.



AthenePPTonSocial Justice