All Social Entrepreneurship and Non-profits students are required to participate in at least two Connecting Experiences as part of their BDP work. A minimum of 3 credit hours must involve research with a faculty member. Take a look at what some Social Entrepreneurship and Non-profits students have done recently for their BDP Connecting Experiences, then read on for additional information and resources.
Major: Communication Studies/Human Relations
Type of Experience: Research, “Non-Profit Methods of Community Development and Social Justice”
Mentor: School for International Training faculty
How did you find out about this research project?
I designed this research project based on my interest in non-profit, international development work, and the opportunity to study abroad in Chile with School for International Training (SIT) World Learning. The theme of my study abroad program was Social Justice, Community Development and Cultural Identity. The reason I chose this particular study abroad program was that it involved a month-long independent study project at the conclusion of the semester. This opportunity allowed me to combine my interest in development with what I had learned about social justice and cultural identity throughout the semester.
Describe your research project and your interest in the subject area.
My research narrates the history of a non-profit organization that was founded in response to human rights violations committed by the Chilean military dictatorship of the 1980s. This organization has been working to develop the poorest sector of Viña del Mar, Chile, since its origin. I first became interested in studying international development after traveling to the Dominican Republic in 2005. Since then, I have worked with four different international non-profit organizations in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. This research project gave me the opportunity to systematically study a non-profit’s methods of community development and social justice.
Tell us about the process you went through to perform your research.
In order to perform my research, I first established connections with one of the directors of the non-profit organization. After meeting with her to explain my project, she connected me with interviewees and provided documents that explained background information about the community. I was able to interview two of the original founders, several staff members and people from the community who have been directly impacted by the non-profit’s development work. I conducted my research in Spanish and compiled my findings in a 38-page research paper that narrates the parallels in the history of the organization and the development of the community.
How did this experience connect to your BDP?
This experience was an incredible opportunity for me to observe first-hand the theories and ideas I have learned in the classroom. I was able to formulate interview questions from concepts that I have studied in order to determine for myself whether or not those ideas hold true for the specific non-profit I was researching. I learned just as much by observing the day to day functioning of the organization as I worked alongside the staff of the non-profit nearly every day for 3 weeks.
In what ways has this CE shaped your plans for the future?
This connecting experience has directly impacted my future plans. I am in the process of applying for a variety of scholarships, post-baccalaureate fellowships and internships that would allow me to return to South America to continue my research. I gained invaluable experience that has confirmed that social justice is my passion, and I plan to pursue non-profit, international development work in my future studies and career. As a communication major, I plan to take advantage of my interdisciplinary education to tell stories of my experiences working with development efforts around the world.