Advice

Course Reviews: Communication for Development at Malmö University

There are a lot of development related degrees out there. So many, in fact, it can be overwhelming. To help people out, we’ll be running several reviews of courses. If you would like to contribute a review of a course you’ve taken or if you want to attract more students to your programme please email development.intern.blog@gmail.com

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Communication for Development (ComDev) is an interdisciplinary field of study and practice, combining studies in culture, communication and development integrated with practical fieldwork. It explores the use of communication – both as a tool and as a way of articulating processes of social change – within the context of globalisation.

While Communication Studies commonly is associated with concepts like information, media and messages, Communication for Development not only encompasses these terms, but also embraces a much broader approach. ComDev focuses on approaches that work to facilitate dialogue and define priorities for messages and information, but most importantly, on social processes to involve people in their development – making people active participants, and not only passive receivers of messages and information.

From its start in 2000, ComDev set out to be an academic programme available to everyone, everywhere, even those students unable to relocate for their university studies. One of the key aspects of this approach is our livestreams where our students can follow the lectures in real time, no matter where they are in the world. These livestreamed sessions also allow students to interact with their peers and the teachers and to engage in group discussions and assignments.

Our student body is diverse: culturally, geographically and in their academic and professional backgrounds. This allows our students to deepen their knowledge within their existing area of expertise while also gaining a broad overview based on the academic backgrounds and practical experiences of their peers, allowing them to be able to work both interdisciplinarily and transculturally in their future professions. Many of our students and alumni work in professional media companies, international organisations (governmental and non-governmental) or are undertaking doctoral studies.

The programme runs part-time over two years and is conducted online with the opportunity of attending two or three weekend seminars in person. During their first year, our students receive a comprehensive overview of globalisation and an introduction to the field of Communication for Development. During their second year, the students are introduced to the use of new media and ICT in a development context and receive a thorough introduction to research methodologies in order to prepare them for their final thesis.

The benefits of studying in an international setting with the opportunity to interact with students from all around the world is a great asset to the programme and in combination with students who are working in ComDev-related fields, the opportunity to share experiences provides added value. ComDev embraces the international mind-set when planning for seminars and to date we have held seminars in Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, South Africa and Tanzania to name a few and we encourage our students to attend the seminars in person if they have the opportunity.

When writing their theses, we recommend students to conduct field studies and our students have had the opportunity of doing fieldwork in countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa. We always encourage our students to think outside the box and employ innovativeness and creativity to their fieldwork experiences. ComDev theses have included documentaries, short films, photo essays and a wide array of dissertations presented in exciting and original formats.

As an addition to our master’s programme, we offer a part-time course called Advances in Communication for Development, which aims to enhance skills and deepen knowledge in the strategic use of media and communication in development cooperation. Students are given the opportunity to independently plan, implement and evaluate a ComDev intervention. From 2014 this course is also offered as Commission Education for organisations and companies.

Web: www.mah.se/comdev

Twitter: @mahcomdev

Facebook: www.facebook.com/comdevmalmo

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Experiences

Ethical Student Internships: My experience

Written by Molly Whyte, cross-posted from Student Hubs

While I’ve long been certain that I want to pursue a career that makes a positive impact on society, if you’d asked me back in the autumn of last year what exactly that would entail, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you.

When I applied to the Ethical Internship Scheme during my first year at university, I saw it as an opportunity to gain valuable experience in the third sector. I hoped the process would narrow down my career aspirations and provide an outlet for my interests in education, culture and international development. One month into my placement with United World Schools (UWS) and I’m happy to say that this is definitely the case.

UWS, a small charity founded in 2008, uses a low-cost, community-focused model to deliver basic education to marginalised children in remote areas of South-East Asia. UWS seeks both top-down permission and grassroots collaboration to build schools and train local teachers. They support the continuation of indigenous cultures and traditions, as well as recruiting help from committed international volunteers. Currently, there are 14 UWS schools in Cambodia, with plans to expand and replicate the model in countries such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal in the coming few years.

Alongside providing general support to the UWS team working on school, corporate and volunteer partnerships, my role is centred on communications (which complements my position as Publicity Officer on the Southampton Hub committee). I edit and proofread newsletters and PR resources, as well getting to interview some of UWS’ partners and write case studies on their experiences.

I also currently manage the UWS Twitter account (@teamUWS) and work with members of the UWS Council to plan awareness and marketing strategies. I’ve enjoyed learning more about fundraising too, and recently submitted UWS’ application to The Big Give Christmas Challenge 2013.

So far, my expectations of the Ethical Internship Scheme have been met and exceeded. My experience with UWS has given me a real insight into the workings of a small charity, and I now better understand the skills needed to effectively engage both existing and potential supporters. I benefit from working with highly experienced people from a diverse range of career backgrounds, as well as getting to attend the Student Hubs training sessions that run alongside our placements throughout the summer.

Overall, I’m grateful to be constantly learning and already feel more prepared to start a social impact career when I graduate. I’m now looking forward to continuing to develop my communications, marketing and fundraising skills as I carry on my internship until the end of August.

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