Getting ready for work in the field of development cooperation

Two summer schools form part of the Development Management (MADM) Master’s programme at the Ruhr-University Bochum and the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town. Students are given the chance to practice statistical methodologies and get to know the field of development work.

Group Picture Intercultural Communication Petershagen_500

The first of many meetings: Students from Bochum and Cape Town come together in Bochum © private

As every year, the entering class of the Development Management MA (MADM) programme at the Ruhr-University in Bochum (RUB) began their studies with a summer school session together with fellow students from Cape Town. The summer school is a permanent part of the curriculum for both programmes. The three-day seminar titled “Intercultural Awareness and Team Building” was an important component of this year’s summer school programme.

When people from 15 different countries get together, navigating the cultural diversity is a skill to be learned. “In the seminar, we spoke about our backgrounds. That’s important if you want to understand and respect cultural differences,” says Maria del Pilar Locano Godinez, a RUB student from Mexico. Elisabeth Kiamba from Cape Town emphasises that individual differences can exist even within a single culture. “Every person has her own set of values and interests,” she says. “We need to respect those in our actions. That’s become clear to us.”

Statistics requirement
The summer school focused on the study of statistics.  “In our programme, political scientists, human geographers, economists, and sociologists all begin with different academic and professional backgrounds,” explains Tobias Thürer, coordinator of the MADM programme. “The goal of the summer school is to bring everyone up to the same level on quantitative methods.”

Although statistics and methodology are disliked by most students, they remain absolutely essential not only for the Master’s thesis but even in a future job. For DAAD scholarship holder Maria del Pilar Locano Godinez, the need for a sound background in statistics is clear: “Meaningful data is the basis of any plausible scientific result.”

Vor der Berliner Mauer: auch eine Exkursion nach Berlin stand auf dem Programm © Privat

Taking in the Berlin Wall during a Summer School excursion to Berlin © Privat

Change of perspective
Deeper insight into the world of employment completed the summer school experience.  Representatives from western developmental aid organisations, including the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG), Engagement Global, and Don Bosco talked about their daily working life. Many of the speakers are alumni of the MADM programme.  “Most of the students come from developing countries, and already understand the countries’ perspectives on foreign aid work,” says Thürer. “In Bochum, they meet representatives of development agencies from so-called donor nations”. The summer school also provided ample opportunity to speak about internships and other forms of cooperation.

Summer in Cape Town
The students will meet again for a second summer school this coming January.  There the students will have the chance to put their theoretical knowledge gained in Bochum to the test and deepen their methodological know-how by capturing and analysing data from a self-produced survey. Employees from South African organisations will also be there to talk about their work, and an excursion will take students to an ongoing project in a township.

More information: