Bringing Undergrads into the Discussion: SLC’s Very Own Development Conference

How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean ~ Arthur Clarke

At Sarah Lawrence we understand that the student population embodies a variety of interests, be it musical theatre or research in rare bacterial biology. However, this year, a group of students are going the extra mile. These enthusiastic students have come together to organise a conference on international development for undergraduates. Such a conference has never been done for undergraduates before, and this year the group hopes to target the event at undergrads in colleges and universities of the Northeast.

Meghan Roguschka -a senior – spearheads the project. She began the process in the summer by contacting the Deans of various universities in the Northeast. At present the group has grown to include a medley of students – mostly from the social sciences – who are all committed to making this conference a success.

But why do this? A primary reason for organizing this conference was the lack of opportunity for undergraduates to present their papers at conferences. In most academic fields, conferences are open only to graduate students, professors, professionals and the occasional undergraduate escorted by a faculty advisor. The distinct lack of a platform for undergraduates to present their work to their peers prompted the organising committee to reach out to other students. We have seen and read the papers produced by Sarah Lawrence students – the research is thorough, and the writing solid. It is time that we shared that research with other institutions.

Secondly, we felt that international development was an issue that needed a stronger voice – in Sarah Lawrence and in the world. It comes with its pros and cons, but at the end of the day, we are all inhabitants of a highly inter-dependent world, and this inter-dependency should prompt us to analyse the issues we see in the world and find viable solutions to them.

Our goal is simple: to provide a platform for undergraduates in the field of international development to present in front of their peers and be challenged in the process. The process of intellectual discussion and critique allows participants to not only hone their debating skills but also gives them a chance to test out their ideas on development. We hope that all students will benefit from a richer understanding of the processes and issues of international development.

This is an event that concerns all of us. The issues within international development do not just concern the ‘developing world’. They concern politicians, philosophers and us, as students. The conference spans different academic fields, from History to Economics. It is for students who are keenly interested in international development; it is for students who have a mild curiosity about the issues in our world; it is even for students who are curious about how art and literature are informed by different socio-political trends in different nations.

Above all, it is for students who believe that as citizens of the digital generation – with the ability to connect with anyone in the world – it is our responsibility to understand how other people live, and what determines livelihoods.

Interested? Contact for more information.


Image courtesy of Google Images

Jing Min Chia – who goes by Jeamme, which is pronounced Jamie, a name her mother created – is a Malaysian who loves to eat, cook, write about food and ponder about everything related to food. She reads the BBC, Nature and The Economist like its no tomorrow because she believes it is theoretically possible – and important – to understand how the world actually works. At Sarah Lawrence College she studies Economics, Anthropology, French, Agriculture, Development, plus a medley of sciences and tries to convince her mother that the combination is a good idea.

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