Forum for International Development Saturday
The Wesleyan Forum for International Development will take place on Feb. 18 at 41 Wyllys Ave. and the Daniel Family Commons (DFC). Organized by students and sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs and several departments, the forum will be a combination of lectures and workshops.
Rachel Levenson ’12 said that the forum, while broadly based on international development, would specifically be about themes of effectiveness in aid to underprivileged areas.
“There’s this whole idea of Wesleyan students going out there and doing good, creating organizations and interning, [and we wanted to] create a space where people can talk about the work and figure out ways to make a bigger impact and make what they’re doing more effective,” Levenson said.
According to Kathlyn Pattillo ’12, the Forum for International Development will bring together alumni working in international development, academics from different universities on the East Coast, and student leaders, to critically assess the results of the international work in which University students are currently involved. Speakers include Founder of United Villages Amir Hasson ’98, Executive Director of the NYU Development Research Institute David Rice, and Founder of Shining Hope for Communities Kennedy Odede ’12.
“It’s basically bringing research and innovative models in international development to campus so that students can learn about these models and hopefully improve the work that they’re doing,” Pattillo said.
Pattillo also mentioned that while the forum would be of particular interest to students in social sciences or health-related fields and those planning to volunteer abroad, a variety of topics, ranging from education to public health to the role of technology, would be covered.
“There should be something for everybody,” Pattillo said. “If you’re an English major or a psychology major, there’s still something you can learn from this.”
One of the key differences between other campus events and the Forum for International Development is that the forum is entirely student initiated.
“I was studying abroad at Oxford last year and [helping] plan Oxford’s Forum for International Development, and I [thought] ‘Wesleyan needs this,’” Levenson said. “I contacted some friends over the summer and [we] gathered resources and had to do everything. The University’s been really supportive [and] we’ve had a lot of faculty members that helped out, but it’s been student initiated, which I think is great because that’s one of the things that makes Wesleyan unique.”
Pattillo emphasized the interactive nature of the forum, which will encourage students to participate in small discussion groups.
“I think it’s different from a lot of the current events on campus because it’s not just bringing in speakers to talk one way to students,” Pattillo added. “It’s really aimed to be more of a workshop and a discussion between speakers, panelists, and students. All the sessions are going to be pretty small, usually about 10 to 15 people in each session. It will really give the students the chance to ask a lot of questions and really be in the dialogue.”
Due to the forum’s early start time on Saturday morning, Levenson and Pattillo are trying to motivate students with incentives for those who attend the beginning of the event.
“[We’ve been] trying to [encourage] people to come by [offering] a free Iguanas Ranas lunch, free breakfast, and a free book if you come before 10 a.m.,” Pattillo said.
Levenson also stressed that students didn’t have to stay for the entire session.
“It is a long event, but you can drop in and out, or come just for the sessions that you’re interested in,” Levenson said.
Pattillo hopes that through the forum, students can gain a greater knowledge about the work being done in the fields of global education, public health, and technology.
“I hope students walk away knowing they can play a part in affecting issues related to international development in their own lives,” Pattillo said. “They can do work internationally that does make a difference and has a positive impact.”