Finals

End of Semester

I have three finals coming up: international trade, international finance, and Arabic. I wrote two papers already. The library is packed with students. The weather was foggy yesterday, and it’s been rainy and cold. Despite all this, I’m having a great time. Camaraderie is high — I see people from my program all the time no matter where I go. Extra-curricular events within the program are a blast. (the girl in red is an ex-Marine captain and marathon runner!)

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I applied for several things. One was to be the representative from MSFS to the Achievement Summit, being held on the Big Island in Hawai’i this year. Last year, the summit was held in DC and the grad student representatives started off by taking a limo convoy to the Supreme Court to meet all the justices. They also got to schmooze with Bill Clinton.

Anyway I was selected as first alternate. The guy who won is an all-star. I think he’s a few years older than me, I don’t know. He’s acted as a COO and as a network and software engineer. Also worked in the Spanish embassy in Tehran. So I don’t mind losing to the guy, even though I hate to lose.

There’s a chance I could still get to go, so we’ll see. I pretty much made my pitch by promising to document the whole thing online, and pushed the fact that I’d be a representative veteran during July 4th weekend which would also reflect well upon the program.

I also applied for the Google Policy Fellowship, which Google provides a stipend for for students to work in DC for various policy groups that push ideas that Google is supportive of. I listed my preference as working for the Electronic Frontier Foundation or the New America Foundation, working on net neutrality, online transparency, removal of copyright restrictions, etc. This would be for the summer break.

For next semester I applied for Google’s communications and public affairs internship position here in DC.

Christmas

I am not quite sure how or when I’m going home for Christmas yet. I should probably get on that soon.

Next Semester

I’m taking Arabic next semester again. Intensive. Also, social entrepreneurship:

“This course immerses students in the risks, rewards, responsibilities, science and art of starting a new social venture. Social entrepreneurship means being an agent of progress and is “best learned by doing.” Students will learn to identify and screen opportunities; develop, critique and revise business plan(s); evaluate financial needs and resources, and negotiate with classmates. To the extent possible in a classroom, students will be entrepreneurs. The required skills and (un)expected challenges are addressed, as well as the psychology and personal decisions involved. Students are encouraged to think big in their proposals, but will learn to be ruthlessly hard-nosed in evaluating the competitive prospects, and to develop a thick skin. No previous interest in entrepreneurship is assumed, nor are any business skills, knowledge or experience. Anyone with the drive to “change the world” (Drayton) is encouraged to enroll.”

Development orthodoxies:

“‘International Development’ as a field of academic inquiry and field operations is both relatively recent and constantly changing. Successive theories have been promoted vigorously, and then discredited as incomplete, ineffective or even pernicious. The ‘best practices’ associated with each of these theories have been first widely publicized and then gradually abandoned as outdated and flawed.

This course will examine the most significant theories (or ‘orthodoxies’) of international development over the last 50 years. These include classical development theories (such as Rostowian ‘take-off’ and modernization theories), critiques from the left (such as dependency theory), human capital and basic human needs approaches, neoclassical theories (such as the Washington Consensus) and more recent theories of social capital and institutional reform.

For each of these orthodoxies, the course will explore how development theory has shaped development practice. It will systematically focus on four distinct aspects or questions:
• key dimensions or definitions of development (that is, ‘what is development?’);
• theories of social change underlying these definitions (that is, ‘what drives development?’);
• critical assumptions of these theories (that is, ‘what are the limitations of this perspective of development?’);
• practical implications of these theories, including the bureaucratic structures, professional vocabularies, programmatic approaches, operational tools and instruments to manage international development (that is, ‘how can we shape and manage development?’).”

Political economy of international communications policy:

“This course explores how government policy shapes the development of communications services – the Internet, television, and telephone. Specifically, the class will investigate economic policy challenges, such as the transition from monopoly to competitive markets and international trade in services; political concerns such as the role of regulatory institutions and the blurring of national borders because of technological change; and social effects like the creation of new communities within and across nations. Case studies will be drawn from every region of the world, from countries at varying levels of economic development.”

And finally, statistics:

“This course is designed as an introduction to the use of quantitative methods for graduate students. The progression of this course includes the theory and rubric of scientific research designs and the practice in generating, interpreting, and ultimately employing quantitative methods to critically assess empirical works as well as informing one’s own research questions. The goals of this course are to develop statistical literacy coupled with analytical and research abilities. We will cover topics such as descriptive statistics, including measures of central tendency, dispersion, and association; inferential statistics, including probability theory, Normal distributions, and statistical significance; and OLS regression, including the use of dummy variables, interactions, factor analysis, and extensions to regression for categorical and limited dependent variables. The course is designed to enable students to critically assess and contribute to a broad range of quantitative work in the policy setting (e.g. risk assessment, policy analysis), applied fields (e.g. development, political organization), and applied theoretical work in international affairs (e.g. academic and professional works such as Foreign Affairs). The course will include weekly exercises in the discussed analytical techniques (including independent lab work) and three policy papers that include presentations. It will include a final exam and a participation evaluation.”

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