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Apply Your AmeriCorps Skills to an International Research Experience

July 28, 2016

New IPSL logoToday’s partner post is sponsored and written by IPSL Study Abroad + Service-Learning™. IPSL offers undergraduate and graduate studies that include research opportunities. IPSL educates leaders for professional careers with NGOs and educational and community development organizations with an international and/or social justice focus. Students participate in service-learning and go abroad in a variety of countries where they apply theory to real world civic engagement experiences. To learn more about IPSL, visit their website.

Are you currently working on a research project for school? Will you be completing a thesis at some point? Would you like to take the social issues you tackled in your AmeriCorps experience to an international research experience? IPSL’s Advocacy Research™ program provides AmeriCorps alumni the opportunity to conduct research abroad with a purpose.

Here’s how IPSL’s Advocacy Research Program works.

  • Based on a notion of reciprocity, the program matches students with international grassroots organizations. IPSL does this by aligning students’ academic and professional interests with the needs of those organizations. Then, a study is developed that will benefit both stakeholders.
  • Students research while participating in a short- or long-term study abroad and service experience.
  • A student’s service organization abroad serves as the “field study location” and helps provide the context within which the student conducts research.
  • Data collected by students is shared with their service sites and can be used by those organizations to write grants, conduct internal assessments, and overall, continue their work in the local community.

Many grassroots international service organizations are resource-scarce. The research students undertake creates a new resource for the organization that can in turn, help enhance its community impact.  Students also gain a deeper understanding of the particular and intricate needs of the community by researching in the community rather than about the community. After the program, students have a more developed picture of the connections between the local and the global.

LeondraFair_IPSLAmeriCorps alum and IPSL student, Leondra Fair is enrolled in the International Development and Service Graduate Program through IPSL and College of Mount Saint Vincent and is a great example of the benefits of the Advocacy Research Program. Leondra shares her experience from a semester in South Africa below.

Researching Food Access, Programs, & Factors Impacting Nutrition in South Africa
An IPSL Advocacy Research Case Study by Leondra Fair

As a grad student studying abroad through the IPSL program at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, I have had valuable opportunities to conduct independent research concerning my interest in food security. Pursuing a double master’s in International Development and Business Administration, I wanted to make the most out of my first experience abroad in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In understanding the state of food availability and access in a developing country, IPSL’s study abroad and advocacy research abroad program has given me experiences and opportunities unlike any other.

LeondraFair_IPSL_South AfricaMy decision to conduct my graduate research abroad came to me when I decided that I wanted to be more serious about my education and interests. That meant doing more than what was required by finding out information for myself. I looked around and remembered that I was in a new country and realized that I must take advantage of the opportunity of speaking with the natives and living like them. This sparked my idea of creating a survey with questions surrounding the status of food access, affordability, programs, safety nets, and factors that may get in the way of individuals gaining optimal nutrition. I also made a point of actually speaking with people and going through the survey with them to gain a better perspective of their thoughts and experiences.

In creating the survey and speaking with locals, I was able to pull from past techniques and knowledge that I had gained in my undergraduate studies. What to ask, how to word questions, how many questions to ask, and how to analyze and compute correlations statistically were all considerations in my survey. All the work I had been doing in the past, which I once deemed useless, had become a saving grace in conducting accurate and reliable research on my own. The results were groundbreaking as it narrowed my focus on the issue of food security. Through the surveys and personal accounts, I found that there was a correlation between limited access to jobs and problems in affordable food. Although my previous secondary research confirmed this correlation, it was rewarding to know that I myself had validated the information and was able to dig deeper into how it affected families.

My research through the IPSL and College of Mount Saint Vincent International Development and Service Program has allowed me to become a professional in my own right. I’ve learned how to conduct research and gained real life exposure to the considerable variables that affect that research. All of this knowledge and experience helps advance my career and education as I finish my master’s degrees.

To learn more about how you can engage in original and/or sponsored research that produces relevant, useful data for the benefit of community organizations, nonprofits, and NGOs around the globe, please contact Emma Newton:

Want to learn more about other opportunities with IPSL? Join our next info session!

 IPSL Undergraduate and Graduate Opportunities for AmeriCorps Alums

August 31st 8pm ET / 5pm PT

Meeting ID: 682-046-997

This meeting is best accessed from your computer. You may also click the link to join this meeting from your iPhone®, iPad®, Android® or Windows Phone® device via the GoToMeeting app, or dial, (646) 749-3131 and enter this access code: 682-046-997 (Audio PIN is shown after joining the meeting).


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