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University of Colorado Denver

Study Abroad/Global Education

International Development in East Africa

Understanding Public Management and Public Health Practices - Maymester 2015

Information Session

Monday, February 9, 2015

4:00 - 5:00 pm

Lawrence Street Center Building, 1380 Lawrence Street 

Conference Room 450

Uganda & Rwanda

The very notion of what constitutes international development – and how successful development is achieved – are fundamental questions being confronted at present by governments, NGOs, scholars, activists, and citizens in general. How relatively free markets can be used to promote development and how aid or development programs can be made effective and sustainable are key related questions. From the nonprofit and philanthropic perspective, NGOs draw on a finite pool of resources available from private foundations, corporations, governments and individual giving. Do nonprofit sector efforts at securing these resources increase their capacity to impact change in the fields such as health, education and public management, or do their efforts diminish overall local development capacity? How these kinds of questions get answered in practice speak directly to the challenge of improving the lives of people in the developing world. Thinking about these issues sets the stage for this course. 

In this unique study abroad experience, the objective is to bring a set of policy and practice issues to life in an applied setting. Specifically, the course offers student knowledge and skills acquisition through executing service learning projects with several different organizational partners in Uganda in both the governmental and nonprofit sector. Students will be exposed to a series of dialogues, conversations and interactions with the grassroots leaders of several distinct communities, with university professors, and with nonprofit and public sector personnel and leaders in Uganda. Thus, we can say the following: the overall goal of this course is for students to gain an understanding of how to engage in good governance in the areas of public management and public health in a developing country context, through both service learning projects and participation in transformational dialogue with members of the community.


 Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jamie Van Leeuwen​


 Q & A with Dr. Van Leeuwen​


 Did you study abroad as a student?

I spent my first academic experience abroad in Dortmund, Germany when I was a junior in high school. It was a really big deal to do this and long before the advent of international travel where junior high school students take a field trip to Butaan or Santiago. I did my second study abroad as part of my capstone for my Master’s in Public Health thesis in Ghana working on a malaria project. Both of these experiences significantly changed me and the way I think about the world.​


 Why should Public Affairs students go abroad?

I think everyone should go abroad. We are living in a global economy where the decisions we make in everything from health care to education are impacted by the rest of the world. How we engage one another internationally will define how we impact change in the health and wellness of our own communities and how we govern effectively.​


 Why did you choose Uganda for your program?

I get asked this question a lot. I have traveled extensively around the globe and have had the humbling opportunity to engage in rural and urban communities on almost every continent. In

2006 the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation invited me to join their inaugural class of Livingston Fellows. My fellowship was designed to support me in finishing my PhD, expand my network in the Denver business community via the Chamber of Commerce and grow my understanding of international youth poverty. I traveled to Uganda in 2007 at the tail-end of my PhD to better understand how they were integrating child soldiers back into their communities in Northern Uganda after Joseph Kony moved into Sudan. My travels through Uganda and Rwanda won my heart and I decided that this would be where I would begin developing my international work. I’m not sure why you gravitate to one place over another… there are just people and experiences that draw you to certain corners of the world. For me it was East Africa.​


 What excites you about the subject matter of Public Administration in Uganda?

I get excited when students and community leaders are interested in looking for innovative solutions to poverty. I will spend the rest of my professional life working for the poor and we live in a world that desperately needs to cultivate leadership committed to ensuring that people around the globe have a better quality of life. I was born a child of privilege where education, health care and basic needs were never in question. How do we work collectively to ensure that other communities have access to resources necessary to ensure that no child ever has to live life on the streets or go to bed without a proper meal? We need to think bigger and we need to think differently about how we solve our complex social issues. This subject matter facilitates that dialogue.​


 What do you expect students will learn from your course?

That is part of the fun of this course. What happens when you turn a group of really smart, internationally engaged students loose? All too often we try to define our outcomes in advance of the experiences that we need to have to think differently about the world.  This course allows students to touch, taste and smell East Africa; we meet with community leaders, political leaders and other students…and we listen and we think before we act. But after you have those conversations and engage in the community and begin to understand the issues, then what happens? I get very excited to see what students and community leaders do when they take all of the information they gather and then run with it.  And that is when you get outcomes you could have never anticipated! 

I have personally noticed this "spark" in thought and passion in my past students of Matthew Bravo and Christine Pack. The immersion travel that Matthew and Christine experienced on their trip encouraged them to return to Uganda after graduation and tackle some of the issues they grappled with as students. As Christine continues to build a women's association with a growing candle making business, and Matthew works with an all Ugandan staff to run the Entusi Retreat and Resort Center, GLI is proud to support their endeavors. Maybe the way Africa changes you will manifest itself when you return home and work in your local community, but regardless of your future trajectory, interests or career it will have an impact on how you think critically about complex problems and navigate challenges in all aspects of your life. 

How will Africa change you?​


 What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you in Uganda?

When I was 27 years old and on my first trip to Africa as a Livingston Fellow, Sister Jovita taught me the difference between need and want. I was visiting her jungle clinic in Northern Uganda in a town called Lira.  She was serving hundreds of poor women and children in this rural community every day; most of whom were impacted by malaria and HIV. She had a small team of dedicated nurses and they were doing amazing work. When she showed me her pharmacy, her shelves were bare of the most essential medical supplies. I boldly made my first promise in Africa to her that I would return and fill her medical shelves with supplies in the next year! She smiled ever so sweetly and told me that it would be lovely if I did that for them but if I didn’t… they would be just fine! She reminded me that Africa doesn’t need me and that as Africans they are not waiting around for us to come back and help them. If we want to partner with them and collaborate, that is terrific! But Sister Jovita humbled me into the understanding that we often treat Africa as a charity case as opposed to a partner in international development.  Africa doesn’t need us to teach this course… but there are many students and community leaders in East Africa who are eager to work together and learn together with us through courses like Public Administration in Uganda.​


 What is your favorite aspect of Ugandan culture?

I love how similar we all are. The Global Livingston Institute is committed to creating reciprocal relationships in the communities where we work. The more we engage in these communities the more it becomes evident how we can learn from each other. Africa doesn’t need us. The people of Africa do, however, want to work with us! Together, if we move out of the mode of looking at Africa as a charity case and really dig in and look for ways that we can work collaboratively, some truly amazing things can happen. There is so much we can learn from the work they are doing in Uganda that could improve our own communities if we find ways to put our neo-colonial preconceptions of Africa aside and level the playing field.​


 What is one thing Americans should know about Uganda?

That when you go to Africa…  Africa will change you.  It is different for everyone; some personally; some professionally. But every time I go… it changes me too.​


 Final Thoughts?

I love the notion that we need to change our frame of reference from “Don’t just stand there… do something!” to “Don’t just do something, stand there!” This course is designed to get students and community leaders to just stand there; to listen; to think.  And then when you do that, it genuinely changes the way that you ultimately act. The Global Livingston Institute has created a space to really dig deep into the intellectual curiosity and tap into the countless talents and ideas that students and community leaders have when they better understand the issues that communities in East Africa is facing.

What will you do after you listen and think in Uganda and Rwanda? And more importantly, how will you act?



Quick Facts

  • Course
    PUAD 6600/7600 (graduate), 
    or PSCI 4995 (undergraduate)
  • Faculty Dr. Jamie Van Leeuwen​
  • Dates                  Arriving in Uganda May 16, 2015, Departing Rwanda from June 2, 2015
  • Cost $4,200
  • Deadline March 1, 2015 
  • Credits 3
  • Program Advisor   Jessica Tharp​

Costs and dates tentative and subject to change.

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