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Archive for May, 2009

Time for a Change

TNS- A Real-time Change Laboratory

I am writing a lab report. Its something that I have not done since my sophomore year geology class.  This lab experiment however is not about chemicals or rocks. Its not even about economics or policy (common labs at Milano). In this lab my subject/victims are people and the topic of my research is CHANGE.

Concurrent to my Ms in Nonprofit Management I am also pursuing a post-graduate certificate in Organizational Development. OD, as it is often referred to, is a rapidly growing field in the public, private and nonprofit sector. Mark Lipton, the previous Chair of the Management Program at Milano is globally known for his work with the Vision’s Model of change -A key selling point for the school. But I digress…..

This semester I took a course title Foundations in Organizational Change. The title is fairly self-explanatory. The class focuses on the basics of how to effectively create change in an organization. For my final assignment, I had to seek out a ‘lab’ in which I can initiate and/or monitor a change process over duration of 4 weeks. The project was/is not so much about the change itself, but rather learning to plan and create a process that leads to a desired outcome.

This is exciting stuff….well at least I think it is.
My friend and fellow blogger Laura mentioned a few post’s ago, that I was recently elected to the New School University Student Senate (USS). Subsequent to that I was also elected to the position of President of the USS. In the last few months I have also been involved in organizing a trip to India for student of TNS. This winter about a dozen of us will spend 3 weeks backpacking across the world’s largest democracy, visiting and volunteering with various NGOs/Nonprofit organizations. Since Fall last year, I have been coordinating and organizing social events for Milano students. A student need that until my arrival had essentially been ignored.

My point is that, when it came to choosing a ‘change laboratory’ I was spoilt for choice. Instead of finding external labs, I had the option of writing my report on any of several great initiatives taking place right here at The New School. It feels good to do a paper without all the researching, footnoting and referencing. However, my finals in econ and quantitative analysis are more than making up for the slack I got from this one paper.

In the end, I chose the India Trip. Getting this trip off the ground has been a great experience and I promise to post more about it in the coming weeks. For now I must take your leave,  school work… I mean lab work beckons.

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Like most students during this time of year, we are in the midst of final classes and projects and many final tests will be taken next week. This semester I took a class called Education and International Development. Throughout the semester we discussed issues such as teacher incentives, bilingualism, enrollment, financing, comparative measures of educational systems, equal access and many other issues that developing countries deal with in their quest for quality education. This was my first exposure to education policies and I found it fascinating.

Anyway, yesterday was our last formal class and we presented our final project concepts to the rest of the class. We each picked a developing country’s education policies and system to research and had to write a paper on our findings. (The same assignment as all of our other classes…nothing new) But we also had to create a “poster” to illustrate the “story” of our country complemented by graphs and other visuals. I was not the only one in class for whom the term “poster” conjured up 8th grade  memories of bubble letters, markers and glue sticks. As much as I do love to craft and feel like a kid again, I was perplexed as to how I should proceed. Luckily our professor supplied us with examples and ideas for professional conference posters.

In the end, it was fun to see how my other classmates interpreted the assignment. The posters were displayed around the room and we were able to ask questions about others’ projects. I thought that it was a great way for each of us to engage in dialogue with our classmates about our research, without having the traditional presentation standing in front of the class pointing out notes on a powerpoint. While it was somewhat reminiscent of a middle school science fair, it was fun and different. (It probably helped that our professor supplied us with food and beverages. Grad students love free food, especially yours truly…) All in all, it was a memorable end to a challenging course. And for posterity sake, here is a rough photo of my final poster. Don’t laugh. 😉

Bolivia Poster

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Recap of a good week:-

Monday, April 27th, 2009:
Reception with Abdul Kalam, former President of India at the Indian Consulate in New York City. Dr. Kalam mentioned that the India of the future needs to be powered by alternative energies such as Solar/Wind, Bio-fuels and Nuclear. I agree about Solar and wind, but need more evidence to be convinced about bio-fuels and nuclear power.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
I won the New School University Student Senate elections. I am now one of the two officially elected representatives for the Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy. I am very very excited about the opportunity to set up a new student government in the 90 years old/New School.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
Attended a round-table discussion about Climate Change in the Himalayas hosted by the India China Institute of the New School. Nepal’s minister for Forestry and Soil Conservation was present and spoke at the discussion. Did you know that the Himalayas are considered the 3rd pole?

Thursday, April 30th, 2009
Celebrated the completion of Policy lab with the peeps from the Urban Policy Program. Also got a chance to strategize and discuss vision for the newly elected student government with fellow Senator, Rachel Scharf.
Oddly enough this happy hour was also the first time all the three writers of this blog were out at a bar together.

Friday,  May 1st, 2009
Internship and job search… not exactly a highlight but I think I cranked out a couple of decent cover letters.

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009
Volunteered at the Echoing Green Fellowship selection session. This awesome 21 year-old, NYC-based organization helps social entrepreneurs from across the globe turn their innovative ideas about social change into a reality. Milano was selected to host this year’s final judging weekend. Nearly a 1000 projects were submitted, 22 ideas were selected, based on their performance this weekend  15 of who will receive fellowships to seed their actions of change. I got the chance to interact with some this years finalists. Based on what I heard lets just say the future of the  world is looking pretty bright people!

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