“An Imaginative and Practice-Based Example”
This is how George Rupp, former dean of Harvard Divinity School and president of Rice University, Columbia University, and the International Rescue Committee, refers to Future Generations Graduate School in his book Beyond Individualism: The Challenge of Inclusive Communities.
The central claim that Rupp makes in his book is that modern Western individualism must engage with the more collective patterns that are common in much of the world. He makes a compelling case for enhancing local capacities – educating and training individuals within communities in order to do the work that is needed there, rather than relying on help from the outside. Not only does this facilitate the delivery of services, it prevents outmigration and keeps human capital in the community, creating a multiplier effect that continues even after relief workers from other areas are gone. Education, he writes, “cuts across all of the exemplary practices.”
He cites Future Generations’ efforts, saying “its programs are specifically designed for staff of international relief and development organizations. Students continue in their positions, interacting with faculty and other students online. Over a two-year period they participate in four one-month residential sessions with faculty and fellow students. Each student also develops a two year practicum for field-based research in his or her own community. There is limited financial aid, which together with some support from the student’s organization makes the two-year program affordable. The degree earned is an MA in Applied Community Change. I can testify that IRC national staff members have enrolled in the program to great benefit.”