Posts Tagged ‘Social Policy and Development’

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!


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.


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


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!


Officially a Grad Student!

Inside of the LSE library -- staircase looks cooler than it is.

Inside of the LSE library -- staircase looks cooler than it is.


I am officially a grad student! I had really wished I could post a quintessential ‘first day of school’ photo with me in pigtails wearing a Rainbow Brite-inspired backpack for nostalgia’s sake, but now I get to be the grown-up version of my five-year-old (rather precocious) self; no pigtails today (boo), and a laptop case replaces my too-cool-for-school backpack. After being a London resident for over two weeks now, I finally got to wake up with purpose today. I had an introductory seminar session for my core course at 10A today, followed by a Social Policy and Development lecture from 2 – 4P. From start to finish, it was an amazing day. My laptop got some serious use during both the seminar and the lecture and we actually got into some substantive material during lecture number one, leaving me feeling like a fully focused graduate student. I actually had a very productive day today and got my schedule completely ironed out. I’m on campus Monday through Wednesday and picked three optional modules that are incredibly interesting to me. Here’s a gander at my schedule:

10A – 1P – Social Policy & Development Seminar (not sure on the exact times yet)
2P  – 4P – Social Policy & Development Lecture
430P – 630P (weeks 5-9 only) – Research Skills for Social Scientists


330P – 5P – Health and Population in Developing and Transitional Societies Lecture
5P – 630P –  Corresponding Seminar

{This will be replaced with a Basic Education for Social Development course during Lent Term}


10A – 11A – Child Rights, Child Poverty & Development Lecture
11A – 1230P – Child Rights, Child Poverty & Development Seminar

Monday is clearly my heaviest day and today definitely felt like a full-time job. I have a feeling that tomorrow and Wednesday will calm my fears of being overwhelmed. To add to the intensity, I have a paper due on Monday, October 12th, followed by another paper due on Monday, October 19th. Although both are non-assessed, they are a way for the professor/tutor to gauge your abilities, strengths and weaknesses and although I am here to learn, I would definitely prefer to have many more strengths than weaknesses. Plus, since this is my first chance to make a real impression, I have to go for the gold! I’ve finished reading the article, but I have just put a minor dent in the paper. And by minor, I mean that I’ve written the paper’s heading and cited the source per the Harvard System. Off to a start … ? Additionally, we have an ODI (Overseas Development Institute) paper to read and analyze for next week’s seminar and must come prepared to give a mini (10 minute) oral presentation if called upon. I have to say, despite the years of presentational skills that I have acquired, it’s still a bit nerve-wracking to consider giving an oral presentation during week one.

In any case, I am overjoyed to be back in school and even more excited to have classes with some of the most brilliant people in my field. I recently found out that Thandika Mkandawire (former Director of the UNRISD) has taken up a post at the LSE as the Chair in African Development for our DESTIN program and am secretly dreaming of running into him and taking a paparazzi-style photo; that would definitely be my facebook default. No doubt. I am still constantly impressed with this institution on every level — just sitting in the library doing my readings, I feel smarter; it’s like all the academics throughout all of the years have thoughts that permeate the walls. Osmosis, perhaps?

Not sure. As of now, the only thing that makes me sad is the realization that this program is only a year long. I have a feeling it’s going to go by entirely too fast!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

PS. On a non-academic note, I managed to purchase my tickets to Malta in December for under 59 pounds return! Like I said, great day all around. I love my life.

Registration, Orientations & Classes… Oh My!


This week has been insanely jam-packed with registration, orientations and mini-assignments. Although I should be more overwhelmed having found out that I have two papers due within the first three weeks of class, I found that the departmental and course orientations actually calmed my nerves. I finally feel like I’m here for a purpose and I’m incredibly excited to actually start class and go to the lectures. My course orientation was particularly exciting since I had a chance to meet my lecturers, all of whom seem incredibly interesting and friendly. On top of that, our course administrator is amazing and has already got me pumped about the coursework and our weekend at Cumberland Lodge during Lent Term. I’ve tried to meet as many people as possible in my course and so far it has been a very international experience! I am one of three US students in my course; there are kids from Uganda, Peru, Moldova, Malawi, Ireland, Greece, Sudan; I can already tell that it’s going to be such a cool experience being able to take classes with such a diverse group! I finally got signed into all of my classes through Moodle and already have some readings to do before our first lecture on Monday.

LSE Campus

We had our Fresher’s Fair on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and I signed up for a load of clubs! Since I worked full-time during my undergraduate career, I wasn’t able to participate in as many clubs as I normally would have, and I am sooo excited to be able to get involved this year! I joined a few academic-ish societies (Development Society, Social Policy Society, Politics Society and a Technology Innovation & African Development Society), but also hit up the RAG (Raising & Giving Society), Hummous Society & the Vegetarian Society, both of which I am super excited for! I’m considering a social chair position in the Development or Social Policy society if one’s available since I have an undying love for all things that involve planning.

Now that I’m all registered and officially feel like I’m part of the school, I was super pumped to hit up the library and check it out! LSE is home to the largest social sciences library in the world and it’s a pretty amazing sight (I realize that amazing is a subjective term, but for any scholar/academic, this place is like Christmas!) I topped up my student card in the library and was able to get printing right away! I am officially ready for class.

Now to finalize some class choices — stay tuned…

Signature Stamp - Shannon