International certificate program wins prize for helping professionals break down barriers
The UBC Certificate in International Development, part of Continuing Studies, has received the 2013 International Program Excellence Award from UPCEA, The University Professional & Continuing Education Association. The program thrives, in part, because it gives students—many of whom are already working internationally–the opportunity to learn from each other.
“The biggest thing I liked about the program was how you’re always learning from both the instructors and your classmates,” says Katia Wong, who completed the program in 2011.
Covering a wide range of topics such as health and development, education, migration, project planning, and evaluation of development work, the Certificate in International Development is an online program developed for working professionals who are looking to enhance their existing careers or change direction and enter the field of development.
Joenita Paulrajan, the program manager, says that it also strives to raise awareness of cultural differences and encourages respectful and inclusive dialogue in the field. “International development professionals need to be familiar with how to take intercultural differences into account.”
Wong, a community nurse in Toronto, is now applying what she learned to her work with the homeless.
“Many of the concepts we explored in the program relate to marginalized communities in Canada. We can apply the same knowledge to help those who are out of reach from health services and good education, and help them break through the barriers that hold them back.”
All of the courses offered are taught by theorists and practitioners, who share best practice in this fast-evolving field.
“One of the problems I see among international development professionals is that many are so busy doing their job they fall behind on the latest thinking,” says instructor Zack Gross, who is the outreach coordinator for the Manitoba Council for International Co-operation, a coalition of international development assistance groups.
While Gross is based in Canada, he notes that many instructors are working in countries around the world; one instructor is currently helping students remotely from Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Students want the benefit of other people’s experience, and to hear what works, and what doesn’t work,” says Gross, a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.
The program is completed entirely online, with the exception of an optional week-long field study course. This year, students will go to Thailand to learn about the concept of Buddhist economics and sustainable living. They will visit local communities to see first-hand how traditional shell-fish harvesting, rehabilitation of mangrove ecosystems, farming, development of rural technologies, and innovative organization of manufacturing and food supply networks have all been impacted by indigenous methods to create sustainable livelihood options.