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New group promotes international development

Amanda Gray | Friday, October 9, 2009

 International Development Research Council (IDRC) is a new student-created and student-led group on campus, dedicated to bringing students together toward the pursuit of international development, IDRC President and Notre Dame senior Paul Jindra said.

The group’s main purpose is to point students toward grant opportunities and strengthen applications for grants to travel and experience developing countries first hand, Jindra said.
“I believe IDRC fills a hole in Notre Dame‘s current academic environment,” Katy Smith, Second Vice President and Notre Dame senior, said. “Many students want to do research or complete an internship abroad, but aren’t quite sure of where to start or, can’t nail down a specific research question, or can’t find contacts in their country of interest or the grant money to get there. We can help them connect the dots.
“There are so many opportunities for students, but they don’t know about them.”  
The IDRC is currently working with the Center for Social Concerns, the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement, the Kellogg Institute, and various other post-graduation fellowships to help students, Jindra said.
Discussion is an integral portion of IDRC, she said. IDRC is divided into five geographical regions that meet separately for discussion. Each group is directed by a student that has traveled abroad and is familiar with the region they are leading, Jindra said. At the meetings students discuss viewpoints and ideas.
“IDRC facilitates interdisciplinary discussion so students can confront issues they didn’t know existed,” Jindra said. “There really are roles for every major, ever student. The effort stretches across lines of where we study and what we’re interested in.”
“One of the amazing things about ND students is that they’re so passionate about combating worldwide poverty and injustice,” John Firth, First Vice President and Notre Dame senior, said.  “IDRC harnesses that passion and helps students put it to use on the ground all over the world.  Any student at this university has the potential to make a difference — whether his or her interests are in business, engineering, the liberal arts, the sciences, or architecture. The philosophy underlying IDRC is that if we talk to each other and combine our efforts, we can prove to be more than the sum of our parts.
“The University mission statement calls students to put their education into action ‘as learning becomes service to justice.’  IDRC facilitates the discussion, the contacts, and the resources so that students are able to truly live out what they have learned and believe,” Laura Cassel, IDRC’s Working Group Chair and Notre Dame senior, said.
“Through IDRC, students can bring the knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom into a real world context.”
IDRC has been in the works for some time, Jindra said. The idea for IDRC came, in part, from Jindra’s personal experience abroad in Uganda with the Ford program.
“Coming back, I had made contacts to go again, but other students didn’t have that opportunity,” Jindra said.
Now the group is hoping to build networks and connect students easily to grants, Jindra said. The working group chair, Laura Cassel, is responsible for sending out opportunities and helping students develop ideas and applications.
IDRC is always taking new members, Jindra said. Group meeting times and locations are available at the IDRC Web site, www.nd.edu/~idrc.