It is a great privilege to be the Director of the Master’s in Development Practice Program at the University of Arizona. I have worked for the MDP for the past two years and am thrilled to lead it through an exciting period. This year we have moved to a new beautiful building, ENR2, and have become a fully embedded program in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. This move to the main campus of the University will allow for our students to take full advantage of all that the UA has to offer. The University of Arizona faculty are world-class researchers and teachers focusing on issues such as climate change, social justice, border issues, global health, and water policy. MDP students have access to faculty in all these areas and more.
The mission of UA MDP is to bring together talented students and faculty who have dedicated themselves to reducing the grinding impacts of global poverty and to defining the pathways to enhance wellbeing for the under resourced and socially excluded. The UA MDP provides a comprehensive foundation, strives to provide practical experience and to produce professional and well-trained graduates who understand and respond to the complexities of poverty. UA MDP is also a member of the Global MDP network, made up of 26 universities globally. This membership allows our students to interact with students from around the world on issues important to us all.
Unique to Arizona’s MDP, is our partnership with TANGO international, a local consulting agency that provides technical assistance in assessment, design, monitoring and evaluation for development and recovery programs world wide. Additionally, MDP students also have access to a wide variety of community organizations and internships in our border community. For instance, students have the opportunity to work with the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology on border and health issues, or to work with school and community gardens on food security and nutrition programs.
UA MDP has also had a lot of success assisting students in gaining real world experience through our summer practicum. Students spend 8-12 weeks working for small and large NGOs, companies and governments on real world projects. Our students have been placed in nearly 20 counties over the past 3 years. Students develop skills desired by employers and in several cases leave the summer with a job offer for when they graduate. We also will be graduating 9 MDP students at the end of this year. We know that they will go into the world and make a very positive difference in the lives of the many people they will work with in the coming years.
UA MDP Co-Founder
I am both elated and humbled to lead the Master of Development Practice (MDP) program at the University of Arizona (UA). For many years, numerous faculty and students at our university have dedicated themselves to reducing the grinding impacts of global poverty; defining the pathways to enhanced well-being for the under-resourced and unlucky; advancing the urgent need for social and economic justice; and raising the awareness of basic human rights. Through teaching, applied research and practice, UA has embraced its responsibilities in the global community to which it belongs. The UA MDP represents a milestone in this effort, a point around which the expertise and experience our diverse faculty and student body can coalesce and mobilize.
The University of Arizona is a public, land-grant institution of higher learning with a mission of service to both communities of knowledge and communities of practice. Located in the desert that links US to Mexico, our neighbor to the south and beyond, our global commitment is as much a matter of history and tradition as it is a mission. In the academic areas that have firmly rooted out reputation—environment, health, science and engineering, social sciences, law—the University has always looked outward across borders to the broader global community, and the MDP here at Arizona takes full advantage of the deep tradition of teaching, research and applied practice that has earned Arizona its international distinction.
Our MDP is founded in the MDP Global Network, which envisions the development practitioner as a broadly-trained, multi-talented individual who combines a solid knowledge base with a skill set honed in the reality of field experience. At the same time, we feel that our MDP adds unique value with its distinct Arizona character. We are particularly keen on our partnerships with TANGO International, a highly-regarded development assistance firm located here in Tucson, and with the range of international institutions in Africa, Latin America, and Asia which participate in our program.
The MDP at Arizona carries the promise that our university assures the quality of this learning-in-action experience and exposes our MDP students to the best of what we offer. I am confident that our MDP graduates will leave the University ready to engage and make contributions, with their professional credentials already established. The MDP program is a big moment for us at UA, the culmination of much effort and reflection, and we invite all of you to share in our success as it prepares the development practitioners of the future.
Tim Finan, MDP Founding Director