Archive for the ‘Scholarly Sweets’ Category

The Aid Debate: Sachs v. Easterly

As of late, I have developed a minor obsession with foreign aid and its effectiveness. After reading Dambisa Moyo’s book, Dead Aid, I became extremely interested in the topic of aid, looking at whether aid helps recipient societies or actually hurts them through engendering aid dependency, corruption, etc. (I think by now everyone has come to recognize my non-sexual female crush on Moyo). Easterly and Moyo both make poignant arguments about the lack of aid effectiveness, including the fact that (extremely) large sums of money (think $2.3T in the last half century or so) have been funneled into foreign aid with no real growth to show for it. Moreover, there are a number of aid recipients that are worse off now than they were before. Surely, aid has a direct effect on bettering the living standards of a certain number of individuals here and now, but in terms of long-term poverty alleviation/eradication (eradication’s probably an entirely too ambitious term), is aid really where it’s at? Sachs, who penned, ‘The End of Poverty,’ is the former director of the UN Millennium Development Goals and is super pro-aid; he sees aid as a large and beneficial factor in development and has continually pushed for a large boost in aid. I’ve continued to look into all of their arguments (plus arguments of Paul Collier) to figure out where I stand on the matter… as for now, I tend to lean towards the side of Easterly & Moyo.

I found this fantastic write-up done in 2007 that puts Sachs up against Easterly in a discussion about foreign aid and it’s effectiveness in the development arena. Check it out. Perhaps it’s just the idea of these two brilliant (and somewhat dichotomous) men having it out that makes me love academia (and academics). Even more, it makes me love that we live in a world where people can voice their opinions on these types of matters freely.

For anyone else out there that finds this debate interesting, here are a few fun links to help you stay connected.

– Check out William Easterly’s Blog

– Check out Dambisa Moyo’s Website

– Check out the Center for Global Development’s work on Aid Effectiveness

– Follow Dambisa Moyo on Twitter

– Follow William Easterly on Twitter

– Watch Moyo speak at LSE on January 26th!

– Watch the debate: Moyo vs. Alison Evans (ODI)

Enjoy!

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Welcome to Lent Term!

I’m sitting in Cafe 54 on campus, sipping some coffee (only one cup — one of my NY resolutions is to cut back on caffeine consumption) and watching the hordes of people that are back on campus… it was so nice being here just a week ago when the majority of people were sleeping their lives away in their homeland. Now, once again, it’s packed and I have to use physical force to find an outlet. In any case, my first seminar of this term is done and though my brain was only 60% on, it was good to get back into the groove of things! I have a busy week ahead: on campus today from 930A to around 6P, with Tuesday and Thursday shaping up to be very similar. I’m still trying to decide on my last class for this term, so I’m sitting in on three lectures, hoping one will really stand out (Public Management of Development, African Development and Globalization & Social Policy — if you have insight, leave me a comment)!

This term is going to be a rough one, but now that I’m back in an intellectually stimulating environment, I feel much more prepared to take on assessed essays, dissertation proposals, exams, job applications and the like. I’ve also made it my goal to go to at least one LSE public lecture or partake in some cultural experience each and every week. Also, exciting (for you LSEers out there), my lovely flatmate, Lindsay, has her own radio show (‘Brunch Buffet’ on Pulse Radio) this term! If you’re an LSEer and want to show a peer some support, you can join her facebook group here!

In other news, I have a load of guests coming to visit in the next few months: my cousins are coming for a jaunt over from Malta next week; my sister & dad are coming in April (yay!) and my cousin from San Diego is coming over for a couple of months in the summer! My (overly ambitious) goal is to have my dissertation mostly completed by the first week of July so that my cousin and I can do a bit of traveling while I put the final touches on my thesis. Here’s to hoping! Send some positive energy my way <3.

Now back to work!

A Day at the Museum

With my paper nearly finished, I thought today would be a perfect day to reward myself with getting out of my shoe box of a room before my break comes to an end (*tear*). I decided to embark on a rather cultural excursion after hitting the gym this morning. Mission: Explore the museums at South Kensington. There are three museums in South Kensington, all within ten minutes walking from the tube station: the Victoria & Albert Museum, The Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The best part is that they’re all free (donations encouraged, of course). In hindsight my mission was clearly too ambitious, nevertheless it still got me to the area to explore. I ended up only seeing the Natural History Museum, but it definitely inspired me to go back for more museum time. I tend to take for granted the fact that some of the world’s best museums are in my backyard; upon coming to this realization I have decided to make much more time for cultural experiences while I live in the epicenter. Duly noted: only in England do you run into museums that look like this (see the facade at left).

I had my doubts about my general interest in so-called ‘natural history’, but thankfully it ended up proving me wrong! It was such a cool experience and definitely lives up to its reputation. Plus, it’s definitely a great place to bring the kiddos – they have loads of interactive exhibits. Plus, they have this if you want to get out of teaching your kids about sex:

Does anyone else think this is a little too Rated R for a museum? They had an entire section dedicated to human biology and ‘how babies are made’. Literally, an entire section showing the birthing process with super-sized human models… it was a little aggressive for me; not entirely sure how a little one would take it. My guess is that they’ll be traumatized for life and never have sex. Maybe that’s the point?

Though that exhibit traumatized me a bit, I was elated when I got to the fossils, volcanos, solar system and the ‘earth’s treasury’ sections: all Grade A!

You definitely have to see this in real life to appreciate the magnitude of it, but the Earth section is seriously cool! There’s an escalator leading up into this massive globe, and then you’re inside of the earth where they have loads of goodies about the earth’s core, volcanoes, magma, etc. I’m not even that much of a geek (a point which I realize can be argued, but I digress…) and I appreciated every second of it.

The treasury… well, that was like shopping without the fear of spending. I think any woman could spend a couple of hours perusing the merchandise… er, I mean, enjoying the natural beauty of it all. They had case after case of precious and semi-precious stones. Gorgeous! I didn’t even realize how many amazing gems there are… definitely gave me some space to think about my engagement ring (*cough, cough, wink, wink*).

(Kidding.)


Plus, more importantly, I got to check out the diamond case and see what different weights look like; this display ranges from 1 carat on the left to about 1/8 of a carat on the far right. 1/8 of a carat looks like a nose stud. Seriously. So small. No offense to any newly minted brides showing off their 1/8 carat of bling.

After spending a few hours there (you could seriously spend the whole day if you’re into this kind of stuff… there was a whole dinosaur section that I sort of breezed by), I headed back home only to find that it was dumping snow outside! It had been snowing pretty lightly when I was on the way to the museum, but the skies started falling on the way back. Pretty crazy seeing London semi-snow covered!

Can you guys see the snow fall at Covent Garden?! So intense!

Despite the mini snow storm, or perhaps because of it, the museum was a perfect way to spend a few hours! Snow-free, free admission plus loads of cool stuff. Still on my list to check off: Victoria & Albert, the Science Museum, Tate Modern, and the Imperial War Museum!

Have you guys been to any of the museums in London? Any that you recommend?

Lots of love,

Boo on Reality. It’s Finally Setting In…

December is coming to a close which means January is right around the corner! Before January 11th rolls around and Lent Term begins, I have a dissertation proposal to write and a summative essay to conclude. Ideally, both will be done well (let’s all cross our fingers for distinction). On top of that, real life has begun to hit me: although last term was challenging, this term is going to be a real feat. Not only do we have to concern ourselves with normal coursework, but most of our graded coursework is due at the end of this term/beginning of Summer Term, plus we have to get a substantial start on our dissertations, plus there’s the whole job/internship situation if we actually want to put our education to use (I like to think that most of us do).

Knowing that we’ll be 100% done in 9 short months is a little daunting. Most people are leaving before then — off to law school, other professional programs or back to their homelands to send in their dissertations. Theoretically, we can all go back home in July and submit our dissertations via courier. For some of the direly homesick, this is a great option. I, on the other hand, have been wanting to drag out my European excursions for as long as humanly possible! I’m loving London life (aside from the occasional mild bout of homesickness) and have thoroughly enjoyed my ability to travel and meet some amazing people along the way. Thinking of all of this coming to an end is saddening (and an impetus to pursue a PhD). So, this term is going to be a full one: normal coursework, a trip to Cumberland Lodge with my program, a summative ‘project planning’ submission, a dissertation to begin, careers to investigate, jobs for which to apply, summative essays to submit and preparation for exams in May/June. On the bright side, I also get to look forward to some special visitors this term! My cousins are coming at the end of January for a visit, Chris is hitting up Londontown in February, and my dad and sister are coming during my break for a two-week, three to four-country mini tour (England, France, the Netherlands & maybe Scotland)! Hopefully seeing all of their bright, smiling faces will help in getting through the term and alleviating a bit of my homesickness (and hold me over until I return back to the US).

Also, I must wish my friend, Pooja, congratulations on getting her first acceptance to law school! She’s the perfect example of a girl who has her stuff together: finishing her Masters and off to start law school all before the tender age of 22 — talk about motivation! On that note, I’m off to look for jobs/PhD programs to feel like less of a delinquent.

Here’s to Lent Term and to facing reality!

On an amazingly bright note, Lent Term marks the welcoming of one Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid, and I am going to be 1st in line to see her! I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to take advantage of the university’s speakers and public lectures. We get some amazing visitors at our school (Presidents, Prime Ministers, Queens, Scholars, etc.) and now is the time to get to see them in person!

More Moyo for Moi.

I just finished reading  a newly published book entitled Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian native. Born and raised in Zambia, she has worked for Goldman Sachs and at the World Bank as a consultant. She obtained her Masters from Harvard and her PhD in Economics at Oxford and, all in all has some amazing, eye-opening (albeit controversial) views on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of aid in Africa. The foreword, which was written by Niall Ferguson, problematizes the idea of the public debate on Africa’s economic problems being conducted by ‘non-African white men’ (Jeffrey Sachs, William Easterly, Paul Collier, etc.) and ‘rock stars’ like Bono and Bob Geldof. It follows that having a book of this magnitude written by an African woman makes it that much more salient. I found the text so eye-opening, in fact, that I’ve been flirting with the area of aid dependency as a dissertation topic; it is an area that I find incredibly interesting and somewhat controversial. Four books currently gracing my desk? The White Man’s Burden (Easterly 2006), Organizing US Foreign Aid (Lancaster 2005), Foreign Aid: Diplomacy, Development, Domestic Politics (Lancaster 2007) and Aid to Africa (Lancaster 1999).

Though I have always been a self-diagnosed proponent of the ‘pro-aid model,’ I have found myself delving into loads of literature that has changed my point of view (the flexibility of one’s mind is one of the things I love about being a grad student). Moyo is one of many academics/economists/intellectual forces that has criticized aid, and the reasons that she brings to the forefront are hardly unsubstantiated. In fact, it would seem that if most people were given the facts on aid in the way that she presents them, very few people would be proponents of doling out the huge amount of systematic aid that we do. She suggests that Africa has not only not been able to development due to large aid inflows, but it continues to flounder in a state of poverty because of aid. Due to the corrupt nature of government, bilateral and multilateral funding is easily stolen/misused by those in power. Additionally, due to the fact that elites end up with access to aid, people are that much more compelled to fight for powerful positions, further engendering violence and hostility. Regardless of your stance on aid, I highly recommend picking it up. It’s a relatively easy read and it has a lot of great information.

One of my coursemates sent me a video of this debate between Dambisa Moyo and Alison Evans, the head of the ODI. It’s 22 minutes long, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Also, if you want more Moyo, here’s a shorter clip (under 10 minutes) from a CNN segment.

Now I’m off to read some Easterly — I’ll let you know if my views change (yet again)!

Happy learning!

My Surprise Christmas Gift!

I just got the best Christmas gift ever, courtesy of my amazing little sister back in California. As some of you may already know, I’m a huge fan of Michael Crichton and was pretty distraught when he passed away last year. Not only is he a brilliant person but his books absolutely make my life. So, imagine my surprise when I received Pirate Latitudes, a Crichton novel that was published posthumously! I had no idea it was even being published, but it seriously made my day.
{Always so excited to receive mail!}

Now I have a fun novel to add to my pile of school texts to take with me on my impending excursions!

Thank you, Tiffy!

Always love having my most favorite author in tow!
Does anyone out there have an author they absolutely can’t live without?

xoxo,

Time to Revise!

Hello fellow grad students!

In light of next week’s mock exams and the revising that’s currently taking place, I found some really awesome tips on a study skills-focused website to help with revisions. Although some of it seems pretty common sensical, I still think it may be useful to some. In addition to some basic tips, the website outlines how  to leverage your learning style when studying!

Tips for Visual Learners

-Rewrite your notes as mind-maps
-Use colour to highlight important things
-Draw diagrams and sketches to help you remember points.

Tips for Auditory Learners

– Read your notes aloud
-Record yourself on cassette reading key points of your notes aloud, then listen to the tape afterwards
– Revise with other students if you can

Tips for learners who are readers and writers

– Copy out your notes
– Read your notes silently
– Rewrite the key points using different words
– Write down key points from memory.

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Tips for Active Learners

– Move around the room
-Revise while working out
– Mentally review what you’ve been revising while you’re swimming or jogging

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Also, I’ve found that looking through old exam papers has been incredibly useful! It’s always nice to see what questions typically arise on exams and how questions are phrased to know what you’re dealing with. Click here to check out old exam papers held in the LSE Archives.

Also (since I happen to be an auditory & visual learner), I find that revising in groups is much more effective than sitting alone in one’s room, staring at a PC and old exams. In addition to hearing other’s opinions and input on a particular topic (and being able to ask questions and expand upon topics that are confusing), working in a group tends to keep relative focus. I find that when I’m working with others for five hours, I can be pretty focused for most of it. If I’m at home by myself for five hours, half of that time will surely be dedicated to facebooking, blogging and the like. It’s always nice to have others to keep you in check!

Happy revising and good luck to everyone <3.
Hello, last week of Michaelmas term!

xoxo,