Category Archives: Community & Culture

Philippines Study Tour 2017

Fifteen IPED students and one Economics undergraduate traveled to the Philippines over the winter break for IPED’s annual immersion program in project monitoring and evaluation. The program was led by faculty advisors Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg and Dr. Booi Themeli and managed by Ms. Donna Odra.

Katipunan Road outside of Ateneo de Manila University

While in Manila, the students took extensive coursework in project monitoring and evaluation. Additionally, guest lectures on the history, culture, economics and politics of the Philippines provided useful insights.

IPEDers in class at Ateneo de Manila University

In addition to classes, the group was taken to Corregidor Island and Intramuros, two of the historical sites found in the Manila area. The students were also taken to visit the Asian Development Bank to learn about the work that they are doing.

IPED at the Corregidor ruins

Angeli and Donna at Intramuros in front of Fort Santiago

View from the roof of the Asian Development Bank

As a practical application of the coursework, students traveled to Calapan, Pola, and Bulalacao, towns in the province of Oriental Mindoro. The groups evaluated a farmer’s co-op creating organic fertilizer in Calapan, a calamansi juice co-op in Pola, and a seaweed processing association in Bulalscao. The groups were split up into five different teams and set to evaluate different aspects of each projects. Team 1 evaluated the fertilizer production, Team 2 evaluated the calamansi juice co-op’s management and production, while Team 3 evaluated the farming practices of the calamansi itself. The final two teams evaluated the management and production, respectively, of the seaweed association in Bulalacao.

Pola Crew

Bulalacao Crew

Sunrise in Bulalacao

The program concluded with a dinner cruise around Manila Bay.

Manila Bay

Here are a few of the promotional videos that the groups made for their project.

Calapan farmer’s co-op creating Vermitea, an organic fertilizer.


Two videos for the MARCCO co-op in Pola creating Calamansi products

The video for the Seaweed processing association in Balatasan, Bulalacao.




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Language Immersion Study Award: David Masagbor – Egypt

I studied Arabic for a period of 6 weeks at the Arab Academy in downtown Cairo. Arab Academy offers courses in both colloquial and classical Arabic. Having lived in Egypt before and having an acceptable grasp of colloquial Arabic, I chose to study the classical form of the language.

David at the Arab Academy

David at the Arab Academy

Arab Academy is an exceptional institution. I will 100 percent recommend it to anyone looking to learn the language. Classes aren’t group sessions. Every student has their own tutor which allows you to learn at your own pace and ask as many questions as you want. My classes typically started between 12pm and ended 3pm. The first hour was spent practicing basic responses to common questions while the other two were spent mastering the alphabets, forming words with them and eventually whole sentences. The teachers were very patient and understanding.

Can’t make it to class for some reason? No problem, Arab academy offers classes online as well. They organize online sessions for students unable to be physically present in class for whatever reason. Students are also given access to their online resources and can self-study at their own pace and complete assignments online as well.

Arab Academy is also very diverse. Students come from just about everywhere…the US, Chile, Europe, everywhere.

Jumping for joy about Arabic!

Jumping for joy about Arabic!

Unfortunately, I did not do much travelling while in Egypt partly because, well, I had been to most places prior to this trip (completed my undergrad degree in Egypt). I did get to reconnect with old friends though and visit places I didn’t get to visit while I was an undergrad such as the Cairo Tower from which you can observe all of downtown Cairo and many parts of the city west and east of the Nile River. I also visited the “Time Square” of Cairo aka “where every Cairo resident avoids” aka “Oldest tourist trap of the Middle East”- The pyramids. It was fun though don’t get me wrong.

David at Giza

David at Giza

Being that it was Ramadan, I was able to share in the breaking of fast (Iftar) with friends after 6pm everyday during the period which made the experience all the more interesting. I thank IPED for giving me this unforgettable opportunity in Cairo!

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Beyond Economic Man*: Fordham IPED’s Feminomics Club


In spring 2016, Fordham University welcomed a new club from the midst of the IPED department: the Feminomics Club, short for Feminist Economics. As prospective economists, IPED students understood the need to create a space where a more critical and pluralistic perspective on the discipline could be discussed and considered. In many ways, economics is not only a man’s world, but also a world mathematized for its own sake, neglecting the inclusion of more qualitative dimensions.

Feminist economics as we know it today emerged in the early 1970s as a response to predominant theories of the household and the labor market that neglected women’s and children’s experiences, struggles, and power relations within the household. This view was later married with the aforementioned critique of mathematization and narrowness in the discipline.

Accordingly, the Feminomics Club aims for a critical reading of economic theory that reflects and discusses the theory, methodology, practices, and policy implications of the discipline from a more holistic and inclusive lens. In doing so, we host guest speakers on the topic, turn to literature and paper journals (such as the International Association for Feminist Economics, IAFFE) as well as look for cues in pop culture through contemporary film and media. We address the mathematization of the discipline, the dominance of certain economic thought, and female experiences in economics departments.

But the club doesn’t just consumer information. From time to time, our members present their own interest and previous research on the topic: while one talked about his ideas on the role of men in empowering women and how they can challenge perceptions of power in society, another shared her research on the relationship between gender equality and growth; yet another member presented resources on outlets that amplify female voices in foreign policy debates.

Just last week, the Feminomics Club hosted its opening guest speaker for this fall semester, Dr. Mary Combs, a feminist economist, advocate of a more holistic understanding of economics, and a professor at Fordham University. Among other things, Dr. Combs talked about the beginning of economic thought and argued how one of the great thinkers of the discipline, Adam Smith, advocated for a holistic understanding joining observation and deduction. She presented her own research on women’s property rights in 19th century England, and discussed her own trajectory as a female economist.

The Feminomics Club welcomes everyone to join its bi-monthly meetings featuring a different topic with different culinary delights. Please write to to be put on the mailing list and receive resources, meeting dates, and more.

Schima Labitsch is a second-year student in Fordham’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

*In reference to Marianne Ferber and Julie Nelson’s seminal book “Beyond Economic Man: Feminist Theory and Economics” (1993).

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Recap & Response — What is Poverty?

On September 23, 2016, CAPP-USA and Fordham University co-sponsored a conference called “Pope Francis’ Call for Escaping Poverty: Practical Examples and New Proposals.” The conference examined the definition and measurement of poverty and proposed specific, practical efforts which operationalize Pope Francis’ insistence that people “be dignified agents of their own destiny.” What follows is the second in a series of posts authored by graduate students in Fordham University’s International Political Economy & Development Program that offer a summary and response to a topic discussed at the conference.

Dr. Sabina Alkire

Dr. Sabina Alkire

What image comes to mind when asked, “What is poverty?”

Often one pictures empty pockets, bounced checks, or simply being poor.

Until recently, economists used income (e.g $1/day) as a “good” measure for poverty in trying to identify who was poor. But using income alone can lead to incorrect diagnoses—and prescriptions—by policymakers addressing poverty.

To correct this, Sabina Alkire and James Foster developed a new measure called the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), and it has significantly changed the way economists and policymakers look at what it means to be poor.

The conversation began to change about fifteen years ago when the World Bank conducted a study titled “Voices of the Poor” that approached the question in a new way.

Field researches sat down face-to-face with people who self-identified as poor and asked them, “What is poverty?” The answers spanned several categories: material wealth—sufficient food or a roof over one’s head, bodily well-being—health and appearance, social well-being—dignity and respect, and security in neighborhoods and communities.

Poverty, in other words, is more than just lack of income; it has many dimensions.

The MPI is comprised of ten indicators that span health, education, and living . This allows for a much more comprehensive and detailed look at who is poor and in what ways, and it’s having a big effect on policymakers around the world.

The magic in the MPI is that it doesn’t dictate broad or vague policies, but rather alerts policy makers to areas of issue. This allows for policies and funding to be targeted to specific geographic regions and initiatives within the ten indicators.

Examples include President Santos of Costa Rica, who declared that government spending has to match MPI indicators. This means specific areas that scored poorly, such as education, receive more funding as a result. In Colombia, businesses in the private sector use the MPI as a management tool to drive their social enterprises.

And because the MPI is now employed in over one hundred countries, it allows countries to compare and contrast with one another—and to compete to lower their MPI scores.

As Dr. Alkire stated, “The clustering of disadvantage is a defining feature of poverty.” By acknowledging and defining the multidimensionality of poverty, policymakers and practitioners alike can better identify and serve the interests of the poor.

Luther Flagstad is a first-year student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

Global Multidimensional Poverty Index.

Global Multidimensional Poverty Index.

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Recap & Response — Insights into Pope Francis’ Views on International Poverty and Development

On September 23, 2016, CAPP-USA and Fordham University co-sponsored a conference called “Pope Francis’ Call for Escaping Poverty: Practical Examples and New Proposals.” The conference examined the definition and measurement of poverty and proposed specific, practical efforts which operationalize Pope Francis’ insistence that people “be dignified agents of their own destiny.” What follows is the first in a series of posts authored by graduate students in Fordham University’s International Political Economy & Development Program that offer a summary and response to a topic discussed at the conference.

The Most Reverend Archbishop Bernardito Auza

The Most Reverend Archbishop Bernardito Auza

Optimistic is the word that the Most Reverend Archbishop Bernardito Auza repeatedly used to describe “Pope Francis’ Views on International Poverty and Development,” in his presentation at the CAPP-USA and Fordham University conference last Friday. Above all, the Archbishop emphasized that in the words of Pope Francis, the poor are “dignified agents” of their own destiny. As such, they should be empowered to actively participate in the fight against “undignified” poverty.

According to the Pope, there are three “illnesses” that cause and perpetuate poverty: the globalization of indifference, consumerism and over consumption, and “ferocious idolatry of money.” To those suffering from these illnesses, Pope Francis ascribes a lack of empathy, a blunted conscious, and a loss of ethical control. In spite of this, the Pope’s message remains hopeful, asserting that spiritual renewal, restrained consumption, and a return to God are antidotes that will resolve the three illnesses.

Just as each of the three illnesses has an antidote, so does extreme poverty. The Pope’s answer is “integral human development.” The key components of this holistic approach to development are solidarity, a preferential option for the poor, and the three T’s: Tierra, Techo, and Trabajo (Land, Lodging, and Labor). Integral human development entails a return to the culture of encounter that is central to the Church and incorporates a renewed focus on the Gospel. This guide for treatment of the poor underscores the necessity of basic prerequisites for a dignified life. The Pope’s final sentiment is, unsurprisingly, highly optimistic. He insists that international poverty can and must be defeated and that we have the power to accomplish this task if we all work together.

In the midst of relaying the Pope’s views, the Archbishop seemed to caution us against blind optimism, reminding us that it is difficult to classify poverty. He inquired, “how do we know that only 1.2 of 7.2 billion people live in extreme poverty today? Can we trust the statistics presented by the World Bank?” The Archbishop reveals a cynicism of international institutions and arguably a bit of exasperation at the extent of the challenge before us. Nevertheless, he echoes the Pope’s optimism, especially when it comes to the growing recognition that religion and religious organizations are receiving from the United Nations, as catalysts for change at the grassroots level. Perhaps the Archbishop’s purpose, in voicing his concerns regarding multilateral organizations as well as his pleasure at the credit being afforded to the Church for its work on the ground, is to offer clarification. In order to effectively answer the Pope’s call to work together to fight poverty, we should turn not to the IMF or World Bank, but rather to the Church.

Kelsey Garcia is a first-year student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

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