July 17, 2013

Combating Global Poverty From Tucson

New master’s degree trains students to tackle economic issues worldwide.

The University of Arizona is training seven students –soon to be 22 – to help mitigate poverty wherever found.

The new master’s degree in development practice at the UA is part of a network of 23 universities around the world, working together to “prepare people to lead complex development projects,” said Wayne Decker, a co-director of the program.

The program would prepare students to do field work on issues, such as education, public health and agriculture, Decker said.

“Poverty in the developing world is a little bit different than it is here,” he said. “You’ve got a whole range of problems...natural resources, climate change, water, women’s rights, education, lots of issues that all feed into each other.”

The UA has faculty in a number of areas with skill sets that fit this kind of degree program, said Decker, who also is director of the international program in the School of Geography and Development.

The degree also fits people who come from a variety of educational backgrounds.

“It makes sense to train people (who) really have some kind of expertise in a lot of different areas," Decker said. (People who have) management skills to run a program, and (are able) to do measurement evaluation to say, 'this works.'”

The program started a year ago. There are seven students, from the program, working around the world this summer. Another 15 will start in the fall semester, Decker said.

This story is part of Arizona Public Media's week-long series on poverty.

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