Updated December 1, 2007

   these are NOT official Open University Web pages   

 

One student's personal experience as a part of:

      Development Studies:
Human, Community and Environmental

OU Courses I Have Taken

 
In the Fall of 2002, I went back to formal studies for the first time in more than 14 years -- and for the first time, post graduate studies. I pursued a Masters degree in Development Management. That means development relating to human development, community development, environmental development, institutional development, country development, etc. I officially finished in December 2005, when my final paper was graded.

How does one successfully manage activities and initiatives meant to improve people's lives and their environment, and address critical situations such as HIV/AIDS, violence and discrimination against women, child labor, illiteracy, environmental destruction, hunger, and so forth, in sustainable ways? That's the focus of these courses with Open University, a British University dating from the 1970s and consistently ranked one of the top five in the United Kingdom (yes, up there with Oxford and Cambridge -- and sometimes over the latter).

I finished the degree in late October 2005 when I turned in my final paper, just three months shy of my 40th birthday.

What's wonderful about studying development management is that its applicable to so many, many professional and personal settings, in any country. And I'm happy to say that I've used the materials from courses again and again in various work since then, including in Afghanistan, and that I've seen the lessons from these courses affirmed again and again.

It is very helpful in going for the OU MSc in Development Management if you already have experience, as a volunteer or as a professional, in helping a community anywhere address a particular issue, educating a particular group of people about a specific issue, etc. In fact, I relied much more on my volunteer and activism experience in the USA, rather than my UNDP-related development work, for past experiences that related to what I learned in these courses. For instance, I've worked with American Indians in California who were relocated off their reservations through the 1970s, worked with a nonprofit organization promoting access to technology and tech education for people with disabilities, and undertaken a lot of advocacy work for various reproductive rights groups -- all of these experiences were most helpful in relating to what I studied.

According to OU materials, nearly all OU students are part-time and about 70% of students remain in full-time employment throughout their studies. OU courses are considered to be among the world's best distance education materials. Several people at UNDP's UNV headquarters, where I worked until February 2005, have gotten or are pursuing Master's Degrees through OU.

 
Courses I took for the degree:

 
How much do you think all of the materials for all of the above weighs? You can read the official descriptions of each course I've listed above.

Also see How I Studied and my Advice for TMAs and Exams

 
In November 2007, I started taking a free course through Open University's open content initiative, OpenLearn. The 43 units of study offered through OpenLearn are spread across nine subject areas: Arts & History, Business & Management, Education, IT & Computing, Mathematics & Statistics, Science & Nature, Society and Study Skills & Language Learning. In short: it's free university courses online, except you don't pay... and you aren't graded. I'm currently taking Achieving public dialogue (S802_1), which looks at active forms of involvement by the public in policy relating to science: how is the public voice heard and understood? What is public involvement of this type for and is the outcome in some way Œbetterš than traditional methods of policy making? What do phrases like "public consultation," "public engagement" and "Œscientific literacy" really mean? How do non-experts weigh the risks and benefits that science offers?

Why am I taking this OpenLearn course? Several reasons:

Only downside of OpenLearn: it requires that you use a latest web browser. So if you use an older operating system and cannot update your browser, you are locked out of many of the features (but not the reading materials).

Also see:

 
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