INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT WORK: Evaluation and assessment studies described below are on community participation and implementation processes and social and interdisciplinary aspects of developmental work conducted in rural areas of North India and Western Kenya.
2009 to Present: Evaluating Implementation Projects in India, Engineers Without Borders, University of Hartford Student and Hartford Professional Team.
Implementation evaluation of environmental development work carried out by faculty-student teams on the University of Hartford’s Engineers Without Borders “Water for Abheypur” project, Abheypur, India. Information and data are collected through structured interviews with a range of stakeholders in the village to better understand level of interest, understanding, and engagement in Engineer Without Borders projects in relation to decision making and influence on implementation. By analyzing participant motivation, information, and influence, the model (Contextual Interaction Theory, Bressers & Xue, 2006) evaluates the likelihood that a project will “get off the ground,” and the likelihood that it will adequately address the problem. See presentation: “Water Implementation Projects In Rural North India: Evaluating implementation ‘on the ground’”
2008 to Present: Program Evaluation of University of Hartford’s Engineers Without Borders “Water for Abheypur” project, Abheypur, India.
The University of Hartford’s Student-Professional Engineers Without Borders (EWB) team has been working with villagers in Abheypur, a rural village in Haryana state in Northern India to establish sustainable and dependable water sources in areas of the village that have historically been dependent on neighboring communities. The purpose of the evaluation work, led by faculty-student field researchers, is to 1) conduct needs assessments to determine community priorities, 2) assess the impact of EWB efforts (i.e., positive change) on the daily lives and routines of the villagers, and 3) engage and involve local people in EWB activities and use what is learned to inform project development and ongoing management and maintenance for sustainability.
Evaluation activities include: on-site information gathering and observations of water systems and related infrastructures; reviewing available data and reports; and conducting meetings, interviews, focus groups, and household surveys with a cross-section of relevant villagers and key stakeholders such as village leaders, community members, women’s self-help groups, farmers, health care professionals, and educators.
2009-2010: Service Learning Workshops in lieu of Village Based Project. Grant award, Connecticut Campus Compact.
Evaluated the impact of service learning workshops in preparing students for field experiences in community development work. Students were taking courses at their own college to prepare them for their specific role in an Engineers Without Borders effort, then came together to participate in four service learning workshops prior to their fieldwork. The workshops were conducted during the fall semester, 2009 and work in Abheypur, a rural village in India, took place during the winter session, 2010. See report: “Summary Evaluation of Service Learning Workshops In lieu of Village Based Project.”
2010 to 2011: Promoting Health and Economic Opportunities in the Western Kenya Lake Region through Entrepreneurship, Grant award, Women’s Education and Leadership Fund, University of Hartford.
This initiative builds on a partnership with the Kenya Agriculture and Research Institute (KARI) to establish amaranth grain as a cash crop and a new food staple within Gem District in rural Western Kenya. One objective of the partnership is to improve the livelihood of Alour, a group of HIV-positive women who have organized into a farming collective focused on “Living Positively.” A student-faculty team worked collaboratively with extension workers from KARI and with farmers from Alour on the co-development of business practices for marketing of amaranth and assessment of new technologies for production of amaranth. Student-faculty teams conducted interviews, surveys, and observations to collect information and feedback from individuals involved in the collaboration, assessed the receptivity of the local people, and assessed the resources and materials available for production and distribution of amaranth. Interviews also gave an understanding of how the various stakeholders ‘on the ground’ consider and evaluate projects and make decisions. Business practices and strategies (package design and marketing materials) and new innovative technology solutions (human powered thresher and a mechanical seed planter) were designed, piloted, and further customized based on the marketplace, the receptivity of the local people, and the resources in the region. See presentation: “Kenya 2010: Working in Partnership with Farming Collectives.”
2009 to 2011: Project Development: US-Kenya (ACESS) partnership promoting research on clean water, appropriate technologies, and sustainable agribusiness, University of Hartford, University of Rhode Island, Mount Holyoke College, African Center for Engineering Social Solutions, and Kenya Agricultural and Research Institute.
Developed university-community partnerships based on a model of action research that provides faculty and students with opportunities for problem solving community-identified issues and conducting research designed for social improvement. Facilitated communication and kept process in motion for developing interdisciplinary collaboratives, fostering both team work and individual contributions, and advancing the goals of community groups. See presentation: “University Partnership Supporting Africa Center for Engineering Social Solutions.”