Monthly Archives: October 2016

Recap & Response: Measuring 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 latest 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.

When Pope Francis spoke at the United Nations in September of 2015, he delivered a powerful message on poverty calling all to action “to enable these real men and women to escape from extreme poverty [by allowing] them to be dignified agents of their own destiny.”

Professor Henry Schwalbenberg and his students at Fordham University answered this call.

Using Pope Francis’s speech as a guidepost, they developed a new tool to measure areas of human need, titled “Fordham’s Pope Francis Global Poverty Index.”

Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg.

Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg.

From the speech, they identified seven indicators across two categories: material well-being (water, food, housing, and employment), and spiritual well-being (education, gender, and religious freedom).

Unlike previous indices, such as the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), Fordham’s includes measures for both gender equality and religious freedom.

The index was created with easily obtained public data, focusing on impact indicators. This led to some interesting results—for example, the study found that literacy is correlated to graduation rates, but not to primary school enrollment, nor spending on education. This may suggest the importance of focusing policy to help students stay in school and get their diplomas.

The study also found that access to water was strongly related to several other indicators, especially housing and gender. This is an area where the index can be improved, with future work looking at different measures for gender and housing.

Fr. Elias D. Mallon expounded on the inclusion of religious freedom in the index, raising several philosophical questions with which the development field is currently grappling:

  • Does the right to religious freedom reside within the individual or within the corporate body?
  • When does the right to religion impinge upon the rights of other religions (intentionally or otherwise)?
  • At what point does one group’s right to religious freedom end?

According to Fr. Mallon, these issues become political when one group calls on the state to promote their own beliefs.

Fr. Elias Mallon

Fr. Elias Mallon.

The potential for these issues to unravel into myriad loose ends is great, but Fr. Mallon pulled everything back to the centrality of our humanity.

“When Pope Francis talks about, ‘goods,’” said Fr. Mallon, “he means more than just physical things. He means ‘the common good’ as well.”

“Thus religious freedom is a shared space, built with everyone’s participation. We are to regard all as brothers and sisters, with our work done in the service of the common good.”

Because Fordham’s Pope Francis Index strongly correlates with the standard Human Development Index (HDI), it provides a powerful new way to begin to not only address the material needs of people, but to identify ways to attend to spiritual well-being as well.

IPED Conference (Sept. 23, 2016) Photo by Bruce Gilbert

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

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Language Immersion Study Award: Armand Aquino, Katie McCann, Jackie Yap – France

Summer Shenanigans
Three  IPED students – Armand Aquino, Katie McCann, and Jackie Yap – spent their summer in France for an intensive French language study and cultural immersion with an Alliance Française Institution. Armand was in Toulouse; Katie was in Bordeaux; and Jackie began in Toulouse then continued on to Lyon.
Armand and Jackie were recipients of the 2016 Language Immersion Study Award (LISA) while Katie is an Arrupe Fellow who decided to use her summer grant from her fellowship to pursue French language study. French language study is part of their professional development to further their careers in international development.

Learning French at an Alliance Française Institution in France is a great opportunity because of the diversity of its students. Aside from the structured lectures, Alliance Française organizes a number of activities for its students so they can immerse themselves into the French culture. Such activities include guided tours of museums and the city, “art” hunting, and cheese (and wine) tasting (this is France, after all).

In addition, Alliance Francaise arranges homestays for the students which enables them to continue speaking in French even at home.
Armand and Katie shared that the summer experience has also been great opportunity for them to expand their network in the international development space. Both have met people working in international organizations such as the International Red Cross and World Food Programme who like them are studying French for their own professional development.
When asked for advice to students considering a language study for the summer, Jackie said that “If you are just starting out in the language, I encourage you to take advantage of the language class (audit) at Fordham. It helped me learn the basics and allowed me to be more confident in practicing the language. Also, do not be afraid to practice and make mistakes. Many, if not everyone, appreciate the fact that you are trying to learn French.”

Armand in Toulouse, France

Armand in Toulouse, France

Jackie gives a two-thumbs up to the French Cuisine even though she accidentally ordered frog legs despite the waiter’s attempt to translate what “grenouille” means.

Jackie gives a two-thumbs up to the French Cuisine even though she accidentally ordered frog legs despite the waiter’s attempt to translate what “grenouille” means.

Katie in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Katie in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Katie, Jackie, and Armand showing their IPED pride at Lourdes, France

Katie, Jackie, and Armand showing their IPED pride at Lourdes, France

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IPED Summer Blog: Entrepreneurship in Latin America – Daina Ruback

I had two goals for the summer before my last semester with IPED: to practice my Spanish, and to gain on-the-ground work experience outside of the US and in my chosen field of small business and entrepreneurship development.  So last fall, as Dr. S tasked us to formulate proposals for summer endeavors in our Project Management course, I sent a quick email to some former colleagues with whom I managed a women’s entrepreneurship working group at the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE). My task was simple: “Can you keep an eye out for any potential opportunities for projects/internships in women’s entrepreneurship in Latin America and pass them my way?”

The next May, I was on my way to Guatemala to attend a workshop on women’s entrepreneurship.I was invited to develop a policy paper on creating holistic women’s entrepreneurship training programs in developing countries. After the initial 3 days in Guatemala, I spent 6 weeks in Mexico City with Value for Women and ANDE (with support from Oxfam’s Women in Small Enterprise Program), meeting with stakeholders, conducting research, and writing a policy paper that focuses on autonomous decision-making of women business owners and appropriate ways to include men in women’s entrepreneurship initiatives.  

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Hanging with some of my coworkers. Nah, I didn’t take any photos at work since I was mostly based out of a shared space in Mexico City, so here’s a shot from Diego Rivera’s studio museum.

Concurrently, I applied to be part of a research and evaluation consortium with Emory University. In February, I was selected to be part of a group of graduate students to help Emory carry out research with TechnoServe Inc., a non-profit organization with entrepreneurial accelerator programs in four Central American countries (Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras). The ultimate goal of this research is to see what works with accelerator programs for developing country entrepreneurs: what types of services and trainings are most valuable, and what broader macro socioeconomic factors impact an entrepreneur’s success.

During the two weeks spent in Central America, our group from Emory interviewed dozens of TechnoServe entrepreneurs, advisors, and sector experts in Nicaragua and El Salvador. These interviews were truly the highlight of my summer. For example, in Nicaragua, we interviewed Karen Tijerino, founder of Cerveza Artesanal Pinolera, one of the country’s six craft breweries. Karen founded the company last year and has been leading Nicaragua’s burgeoning craft beer industry as the only woman brewer (with an all woman staff) and one of the only native Nicaraguan brewers.  In a small town in northern Nicaragua, we spoke with Leana Gámez- who transformed her grandmother’s small, home-based bakery into a sought-after brand available in almost all of western Nicaragua- and ate a lot of delicious, carb-y treats.

Enjoying the new craft beer scene in Managua

Enjoying the new craft beer scene in Managua

 Emory research team and Leana Gámez, Bakery owner and TechnoServe Entrepreneur

Emory research team and Leana Gámez, Bakery owner and TechnoServe Entrepreneur

 Owner of NicaTextil shows us around his clothing and uniform manufacturing shop

Owner of NicaTextil shows us around his clothing and uniform manufacturing shop

TechnoServe’s program in El Salvador has a specific focus on women entrepreneurs, and we were able to speak with nine of the over 60 amazing ladies who participated in the program this past year. Businesses ranged from a beauty product supplier, to a children’s furniture producer, to a veterinarian whose business sees over 1000 animals every month (and has a really adorable Facebook page)! We were also shuttled around the city by the fabulous Linea Rosa, a taxi company founded by a TechnoServe entrepreneur in San Salvador, driven by women, providing safe transportation for women passengers.

An exciting part about this project is the broad reach we hope these interview findings will have. I’ll be participating in a session to present this research at the SOCAP (Social Capital Markets) Conference in San Francisco in September and am thrilled to share what we have learned with other accelerators and entrepreneurs. I’ll also be happy to share the final reports from both projects with any interested IPEDers!

As an Arrupe Fellow, I was really lucky to have the flexibility in my summer funding to create a program that fit my personal and professional goals.  It was also a perfect opportunity to apply so much of what I had learned over the past year of IPED to real world international development projects. I’m now looking forward to using the learnings from this summer throughout my last semester.

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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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World Food Systems Summer School – Jaclyn Yap

After completing my Language Immersion in France, I headed to Switzerland to attend the World Food Systems Summer School. It is organized by World Food Systems Center at ETH Zürich. This year’s theme was “Organic Agriculture and Food Systems.”

As an IPED student specializing in Global Environmental and Resource Economics, I purposely searched for a summer program that would help me gain a more holistic understanding of and interdisciplinary knowledge on the food system to supplement my academic research. Through the IPED Summer grant and the GSAS Professional Development Grant (PDG), I was able to take part in this unique opportunity to learn more about food systems.

Classroom session

Classroom session

 

The course ran from August 7 to 21, 2016 at Rheinau, Switzerland. Leading researchers and practitioners from agricultural production, food processing, health and nutrition, political economy, came to speak to us about their field. Aside from lectures, we also had plenty of group activities to further discuss the topics. The speakers were certainly very open to discussions with us students during breaks and even after the sessions.

My classmates and I visiting an apple orchard in Bachs

My classmates and I visiting an apple orchard in Bachs

 My groupmates and I presenting our final project to the class


My groupmates and I presenting our final project to the class

 

We did not spend the two weeks just inside the lecture halls. We also had farm tours, alpine excursions, and site visits. We got our hands dirty with our soil analysis activity and organic farming exposure. The field trips were definitely my favorite!

A beautiful day for Alpine Excursion in Graubünden

A beautiful day for Alpine Excursion in Graubünden

Soil analysis in Rheinau with my groupmates

Soil analysis in Rheinau with my groupmates

Making traditional Swiss bread “Zopf”. I’m at the back observing my Swiss friend as she skillfully did it.

Making traditional Swiss bread “Zopf”. I’m at the back observing my Swiss friend as she skillfully did it.

 

We stayed at a wonderful guesthouse in Rheinau. Our hosts served us the freshest and healthiest meals every day, as well as weekend barbecues at the garden! Coming from different backgrounds and culture, we spent many of our nights (and days) getting to know each other. We learned a lot from each other and made new friends and professional contacts.

My fellow participants and I dancing to a Kenyan song

My fellow participants and I dancing to a Kenyan song

 

Attending the summer school with amazing people who shared the same passion for food and for helping make the world a better place was truly a memorable and informative experience.

My Class Photo

My Class Photo

 

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