Joseph Courtney_International_Development_Management_MA

 Hi Joe – can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I’m from the UK – born ‘up north’ but primarily raised in Winchester. I’m 25 and my undergraduate degree was in economics, which I studied at Bristol UWE. I lived in Bristol for four years and then moved straight to London to do my Master’s degree at Westminster Business School. I love sports, music and love to cook.

I also have some volunteering experience and have taken part in a charity trip climbing Kilimanjaro, raising £2500 in 2013 for a charity called Child Reach International. They work in less developed countries and the money we were raising was specifically for Tanzania. Because we climbed Kilimanjaro we were able to visit the school that the money was raised for, which was great.

Why did you decide to study International Development Management (IDM) MA?

My undergraduate degree was in economics and when I chose my options, I chose a module directly related to development. It was really by chance then that I found the subject at postgraduate level, because I came to the open evening specifically to look at the economics courses. I then ran into a former International Development Management MA student who asked if I was interested in development and after saying ‘yes’ he introduced me to the Course Leader Dr Ola Sholarin. Ten minutes later I had made my decision. I really liked the idea that you could pick an option module – I thought this was great and it meant that I could carry on with econometrics. The variety of the other modules was also nice. I only went to the open evening half-heartedly because my mum told me to go – but I’m glad I went because it’s been great.

Class trip to United Nations, Geneva, 2015

What have been the highlights for you over the last year?

Passing all the exams was pretty good. I think averaging 70 in the first semester was really great because I was worried at the start of the year that it would be really tough. I think I worked hard and it paid off.

On top of that, I think what’s great about this course is that you study with such a small group of diverse people. There are about eighteen-nineteen of us in a class and there are students from all over the world, from different backgrounds. I love the fact that you don’t really need any development experience before you start the course, because it creates a real mix of people in the classroom – whether you’re from Uganda and you’ve previously studied education, or you’re from the Philippines and you’ve worked in health. It provides a multidisciplinary approach, different perspectives and you get to meet lots of different people.

What has been your biggest challenge?

The dissertation is and will be hard. I’d say that the course is a big step up from undergraduate level as well, but that if you put the work in it can be more rewarding because you’re doing something that you’re really interested in rather than just doing a degree for the sake of it.

What are you writing your dissertation about?

My dissertation is about how gender inequality affects development. My case studies are two African countries and two countries in Latin America.

Debate at the United Nations Headquarters Geneva (Photo credits: Lorna Kamau)

How have you found your experience of visiting the United Nations (UN), Geneva with the IDM MA class?

The whole trip has been really valuable and it’s been one of the highlights of the whole course. My favourite lecture was the session with the World Meteorological Organisation. I found this the most interesting because it was all about climate change, something which is related to all forms of development. Whilst I had an understanding of what climate change was, who was causing it and how bad it could get, it was nice to see that within the context of development and to hear about the UN Climate Conference in Paris (2015). I was able to get quite involved with asking questions and it was great to discuss how they’ll [the UN] get the agricultural sector involved because there are massive implications for food and water if disasters strike because of climate change. (Read more about the IDM MA trip to the UN).

United Nations Headquarters Geneva (Photo credits: Lorna Kamau)

How would you sum up your experience of Westminster Business School in one word?

It has been diverse.

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