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Student involvement in international development:
A thesis in the making

Graduate student Caroline Archambault has been interested in international development issues for a long time. She graduated with a B.A. in international development studies from Trent in the early 1990s and went on to work with the former intercultural training centre at CIDA, and at TFO, the French network of TVOntario.

"I worked at TFO for four years as an associate producer and researcher," explains Ms. Archambault. "My work involved a lot of community participation, which was interesting because, for years, I had been thinking about why people choose to become involved in community and international projects."

When Ms. Archambault decided to pursue her master’s degree, she wanted to delve deeper into this issue, and discovered that, through the Frost Centre at Trent, her interdisciplinary approach could be successful. "It’s certainly reinforced, for me, the value of interdisciplinary studies and it’s been wonderful to have the resources of so many great scholars and professors at Trent," she says.

Ms. Archambault has fine-tuned her research to the study of university students and their engagement in international development. She is asking why students get involved and how their participation takes shape.

Focussing primarily on the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), Ms. Archambault has completed interviews with students at WUSC local committees at Dalhousie University in Halifax and at the Collège d’Alfred, near Ottawa. In late November she will travel to the University of Alberta in Edmonton to conduct additional interviews.

WUSC is a non-governmental organization, based in Ottawa, which has approximately 80 local committees and contact groups at colleges and universities in Canada. Its mandate is based on a belief that all peoples are entitled to the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to a more equitable world. Its mission is to foster human development and global understanding through education and training.

"I am using WUSC as a case study specifically because of its involvement at the local level and with students," explains Ms. Archambault, who is in the second year of her MA program. She also works as a TA in Politics 201 and does copy editing and translation work for the Journal of Canadian Studies and Labour/Le Travail. She still does some contract work with TFO.

Hoping to complete her MA by the summer of 2003, Ms. Archambault is excited about her research and is seeing trends emerge from her interviews. She says it is gratifying to be back in a learning environment and is happy to be involved again in the Peterborough community.

Posted November 29, 2002

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