Student Learning in International Development Programming Abroad: A Structured Dialogue on Practices and Challenges

Panel, Facilitated by Brett Berquist

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  • Michigan State University has a long history of international engagement and has been the national leader in study abroad participation among U.S. public universities for six consecutive years, sending almost 3,000 students abroad on 260 programs to all continents. Students of today’s generation are increasingly seeking hand-on experiences abroad with the opportunity to connect with real-world problems within a community. Such programs present rich learning opportunities and unique challenges to faculty who lead them and to students who participate. In this session, MSU faculty and students will initiate dialog with the audience on three important questions: 1) How do we prepare our students for the field-based appraisal that is necessary to identify community development challenges and solutions? 2) How do we include a broad range of academic perspectives to help our students prepare for the experience when there can be only one or two lead faculty in-country with the students? 3) How do we initiate and develop sustainable community partnerships? Participants will be encouraged to share personal perspectives and practices so that all may benefit from the shared experiences. 

    About the Presenter: 

    Robert Blake joined Michigan State University in 2009 to direct the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. He previously held positions at Cornell University and Texas A&M University, where more than 30 years of research, extension and teaching were aimed at cultural context-appropriate agricultural system and rural development challenges in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the United States. Program foci include economic, nutritional and genetic issues of management of livestock, especially dual-purpose ruminants, and rural livelihoods from mixed farming systems in these regions. Outreach and development are integral activities. Objectives are to train scientists by investigating options to improve the productivity, net economic returns and sustainability of land use and the livestock component of farming systems. He orchestrates Experience Latin America, a two-course interdisciplinary offering by Michigan State and Cornell universities and Mexican collaborators. E-mail:

    Diane Doberneck, Ph.D., is a research specialist at the National Collaborative for the Study of University Engagement and is an adjunct assistant professor in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Scholars Program. Doberneck’s research interests include outreach and engagement in promotion and tenure processes; faculty integration of outreach and engagement across teaching, research, and service responsibilities; graduate student and faculty pathways to careers as engaged scholars; international community engagement; and effective strategies for teaching and learning community engagement. Informed by this research, Doberneck creates and supports the co-creation of professional development programs on community engagement—including Tools of Engagement (undergraduate students), the Graduate Certificate in Community Engagement (graduate students), the Emerging Engaged Scholars Workshop (graduate students and new/junior faculty), the Engaged Scholar Speakers Series (faculty, community members) and faculty development activities. In addition, she coordinates an international university-community partnership with the Tochar Valley Rural Community Network (Co. Mayo, Ireland) that enhances rural community vitality through community engagement. She won MSU's First Annual Curricular Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Award in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2008 and the H. Paul Roberts Award for Distinguished Service in Study Abroad Programs in 2011 for international engagement work. E-Mail:

    Anna Malavisi is a doctoral student in the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University with a specialization in ethics and development.  Areas of interest include social and political thought, ethics and feminist philosophy. She came to MSU after working for several years in international development in Bolivia in health and development management. E-mail:

    Vincent Delgado is an academic specialist for civic engagement at MSU’s Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and speaks and writes frequently about creativity, engagement, and international and immigration issues. He has worked as a print journalist, covering conflict in Central America, labor in Mexico, and politics and local government in the United States. His work appeared in major newspapers, travel magazines, and several Washington, D.C.-based political newsletters. Delgado regularly works with college students on international topics, maintains significant contacts with experts in the migration and humanitarian aid community, and co-coordinated the 21st Century Chautauqua on Creativity, Economic Development and Justice. A partner with the Global Workshop, LLC, Delgado founded Lansing’s Refugee Development Center. He is the author of the documentary cookbook A Taste of Freedom: A Culinary Journey with America’s Refugees (2003), published by Global Workshop. He was named International Humanitarian of the Year for the American Red Cross Great Lakes Region in 2005 and 2006. He co-coordinates the Creativity Initiative’s research cluster on Creative Processes and Organizations. E-mail:

    Frank A. Fear is professor and senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University.  Dr. Fear has served Michigan State University since 1978. A rural sociologist, he earned a doctorate from Iowa State University. As a tenured professor, his fields of study are community and organizational development. Dr. Fear served as chairperson of MSU’s Department of Resource Development, an interdisciplinary unit with emphases in community development, natural resource management, law and policy, and natural resource economics. Dr. Fear was also acting associate director of MSU Extension and the inaugural chairperson of an award-winning undergraduate Liberty Hyde Bailey Scholars Program, which is dedicated to student-centered education. He has published over 25 articles and book chapters in outlets such as The Journal of Leadership Studies, and the Journal of Higher Education, Outreach and Engagement. He is lead author of the book, Coming to Critical Engagement (Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, 2006)—a volume written about professorial experiences associated with community and organizational work. Since 2006 Dr. Fear has served as vice dean of MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where he coordinates the College’s global programs—the largest international portfolio at MSU; and represents the dean and the College across MSU and beyond. E-mail:

    Presented on: 
    April 20, 2011
    Symposium 2011
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