I came to Bryn Mawr knowing that I was interested in development and that I would devote the next four years to mastering every single Economics course offered by the college. Immersing myself in complex growth models, at the time, seemed like the best and the only way for me to critically examine development issues. It was only my dean’s constant reminders that I needed to take classes in the Humanities and Area Studies, in order to fulfill my college requirements, that pushed me to sign up for a Philosophy class called “Development Ethics” and a Political Science class called “Political Economy of Middle East and North Africa”, my sophomore year. Somewhere along the way, it struck me that while the Economics class I was taking laid out the policy issues associated with development in a quantitative framework, the Political Economy class enabled me to apply the same models to a very specific and volatile region in the world, which grapples with the very real challenges of development. Bringing in the philosopher’s perspective by way of the Development Ethics class gave me a fuller understanding of the true connotations of development by examining the underlying values associated with it including justice and gender norms. These newfound connections I was drawing between my classes made me realize that to truly understand development was to see it as a complex, comprehensive and multi-faceted process, that couldn’t be captured by any one variable or induced by any one policy.
This is exactly the kind of complexity that we’re looking to explore at the Women in Public Service Institute at Bryn Mawr College this summer and what drew me, in the first place, to spend the majority of my senior year on working to develop this Institute. Our Institute program is comprehensive; highlighting the emphasis on finding the important intersections between the different aspects of development, in a post-conflict setting. In addition to spending a day looking at issues of economic development, we also have days in the program where we’re examining issues of transitional justice, peacebuilding and development, technology and social justice, among other things. In developing the different days of the Institute program, we have drawn from the expertise of academics and practitioners from a variety of departments and backgrounds. As someone who decided to undertake an independent course of study in order to study development from a multidisciplinary lens, I am excited for the conversations that will emerge from the interplay between our program topics. I am confident that this will make for a rich and rewarding experience for all our participants and on a personal note, will be a great validation of my own academic project!
Maddy Bajoria is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College. She majored in International Studies and minored in Economics with a special focus on International Development. She grew up in Kolkata, India and has always been keenly interested in exploring the intersection between economic development, political systems, and ethics. She explored these intersections in her yearlong senior thesis titled “An Alternative Approach to Human Development: Operationalizing and Modeling an Account of “Interactional Agency” for Development Policy”. Her love for travelling and learning in different contexts drove her to spend her junior year abroad in England at the London School of Economics. At the end of the summer, she will be moving to Washington DC to begin a one year fellowship with the Strategic Partnerships and Alliances team at CARE.