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International Developement

A photo of Chickadee Chickadee
I was wondering, if anyone is in International Developement, which university has the best program?

I'm looking into Trent, Guelph, Ottawa, or Toronto.
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7 replies
A photo of uoftlover uoftlover
Ottawa's always good because it is the capital, Parliament is there, and a lot of political events take place there. However University of Toronto is among the top three Canadian schools (along with McGill and UBC), and is internationally renowned. I would definitely choose UofT (hence the username of said university).
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A photo of NumberOne NumberOne
Like ^ said, Ottawa and UofT would both be good choices.

Each has its own set of pros and cons. Ottawa has a much more relevant location and there are many co-op/internship jobs available whereas UofT does have a better international reputation.

Personally, I'd choose Ottawa though. In a field like International Development where everyone has a general degree (i.e. Political Science), your job experience is going to set you apart and Ottawa's co-op program is one of the best in Canada.
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A photo of Chickadee Chickadee
Thanks! But both Ottawa and Toronto have co-op programs... wouldn't it be far more competitive to apply to Ottawa since it's by parliament and everything?
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
I'm studying International Development in Guelph and I absolutely love the program and the university. There are about 120 students in ID in my year and you get to know your peers really well. The program is broken down into 7 streams (you have to choose one stream by the end of second year): Gender and Development, Development and the Environment, Latin American Studies, Economic and Business Development, Rural and Agricultural Development, Historical Perspectives, and Political Economy. They're all really great and allow you to focus your studies in one particular field.

There are several awesome study abroad programs if you are interested and many opportunities in Canada as well.

The campus is big enough to have plenty of opportunities to get involved, yet small enough to feel connected on campus. Guelph is close to Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener Waterloo, yet has a nice small town feel. If you have any specific questions about the program here, let me know!
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A photo of Malinka Malinka
Yeah you'll find a lot of people on here that will tell you to go to Toronto or Queens or McGill because they're "the best schools in Canada". This is blown way out of proportion among high school applicants. Ultimately you need to make the choice, and basing a decision off of some one else telling you to go to uni x because it's popular probably isn't the best method.

I am biased toward Guelph's international development program. Having been abroad working in the development field I've run into Guelph grads everywhere. Guelph's ID program is one of the biggest and oldest in Canada, and the entire university has a development focus (changing lives and improving life - "The university community shares a profound sense of social responsibility, an obligation to address global issues, and a concern for international development" taken right off the home page).

There are many many opportunities for volunteering, interning, and working with faculty on various research projects. Guelph has exchange agreements with over 30 countries, and if you don't like any of them, you can always go to the place of your choosing through a letter of permission. Guelph students are generally active citizens and volunteer a lot, and Guelph has a strong sense of community.

Though I don't know much about Trent, I am familiar with Trent's 8 month (or a year?) programs in Ghana and Ecuador. I have heard they are great programs, allowing students to learn in a developing country and applying their skills and knowledge. You do not have to go to Trent to participate in this - you can still go to Guelph, Ottawa, or Toronto and participate in the Trent abroad programmes.

I know even less about Ottawa's development program. The only positive thing I can think of for U Ottawa is living in Ottawa would expose you to more French than the other universities and bilingualism is a very good asset in development. I would imagine there are more opportunities for part time jobs or volunteering with NGO's during the school year, but if everyone goes to Ottawa for that reason I'd imagine competition for these positions would be high as well. There are great opportunities at other universities as well.

I hope this helps you make the decision that is right for you.
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A photo of halinawilliams halinawilliams
For international development, its definitely experience that counts most. I did a 2 year program at a small college in North Vancouver. Not a big name school, but a very specialized program that's making a name for itself. It's provided me with awesome experience! Yea Global Stewardship!
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A photo of Malinka Malinka
That's a really good point you make Halina. Though I think education is important to help an individual shape their idea about how to properly and effectively approach development work, and to know why a situation is the way it is and how it came to be that way; experience is everything. And by experience I don't mean "building a school in Africa" or "teaching English as a 3 month volunteer". Nor is "working in an orphanage" or "going on safari". These are all tourist activities and though it is great that people are interested in doing something useful with their vacation and cross cultural experiences are invaluable, simply "building a school in Africa" is not development work - it is a gross oversimplification of much larger complex issues.

What I mean by experience is that you'll need to know how to manage, facilitate and coordinate groups. You'll need critical analysis skills, experience writing project proposals and grant applications. You'll need a language that is not English (I recommend French or Spanish). Technical skills are always useful.

Look at the MSF website on the four key areas they hire from (non-medical). You'll notice they aren't looking for someone with a high degree of education. They need administrators, logisticians, technical staff, and financial skills. What they don't need is people who simply want to "save the children" or "help the poor people".

I hope this helps. It's something more people should know before pursuing a degree in international development.
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