Aaron Ebner Peru

Aaron Ebner (center, MPA ’11), co-founder of the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development, with MIIS students in Peru

Peru Practicum: Breaking Down Barriers Between Classroom and Real-World Development

February 5, 2014

Five MIIS professors took an introductory policy analysis course and turned it into an optional year-long immersive learning opportunity. Students have the option to enroll in a Peru-focused policy class in the fall, design a research project, conduct in-field research as part of a winter-term practicum in Peru, and then follow up by working with the information and data collected as part of a seminar in the spring, all while they are learning the tools of data analysis.

Linking faculty research, alumni activities, and students’ desire for practical learning experiences, this is a true MIIS community collaboration. It started with Professors Robert McCleery and Philip Murphy, who have been working on research on the links between poverty and isolation, and grew through connections with the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development, a non-profit co-founded by alumni Aaron Ebner (MPA ’11) and Adam Stieglitz (MPA ’11) that is working on community development projects in the isolated Sacred Valley of Peru.

Professor Jeff Dayton-Johnson and his team of 25 International Policy StudiesMaster of Public Administration, Master of Business Administration and International Education Management students looked at several dimensions of connectivity as it relates to a poor rural economy like that of Andean Peru. That included roads, telecommunications, connectivity to public services like health care and education, and connectivity via language (while the national language of Peru is Spanish, Quechua is the language spoken by most of the people in the study area).

Five students—Mario Guzmán-Soria, Josefina Lara, Luz Vázquez Ramos, Ximena Ospina, and Rafael Hernández—presented a preliminary report on major themes and initial findings to local authorities in Calca before returning to Monterey. Says Professor Dayton-Johnson about the experience: “This student-organized and delivered presentation in Calca effectively breaks down the barriers between the classroom and the real world of development practice. Our students took advantage of this opportunity to share initial findings from a field research project they had designed and carried out, to respond to policy makers’ questions, and to strengthen the relationship between MIIS and this region of Peru. I’m very proud of them and look forward to building on their work with another group of students next J-Term!”

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