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Panel talks global poverty

The Center for International Development held a panel discussion focusing on global development on Thursday, April 3. The topic of the subject was asking what it really means to improve the lives of people in poor countries.

The event was facilitated by the Center for International Development Director and Professor Rob Gailey and featured Lindsay Morgan, Jamie Gates and Brian Becker on the panel.

Lindsay Morgan is a PLNU alum who is now a senior health analyst coming from a Washington D.C. based consultancy, where she specializes in programs dealing with low-income countries.

Facilitator Rob Gailey said the speakers were chosen because of their experience and knowledge in this field. He knew PLNU would especially benefit from any ideas Morgan had to share.

“The timing of the event was chosen because Lindsay is in town as a visiting scholar for PLNU,” said Gailey. “PLNU has always cared about the needs of people living in poverty, both here and abroad.”

Morgan opened up the discussion by offering broad thoughts about what exactly global development is and what the intended goals are. She defines global development as “lifting people out of poverty” by creating a lasting change.

Morgan closed her commentary by giving her audience three thoughts about global poverty to ponder: the fact that big inequalities still remain within global development, how social norms and behaviors and cultures affect how we think, feel, and participate in development, and the main question, does aid work or not?

Jamie Gates, a professor of cultural anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Social Work, brought up the questions of anthropology known as the “who” questions about global development, such as who is involved and who is being helped?

From a cultural anthropology standpoint, Gates said that “anthropologists, instead of standing on the outside as critics, spend time within these villages and communities and assist directly with the development.”

Brian Becker was the last on the panel to offer his insights about global development and began by mentioning that first-world nations must continue to learn about global poverty and global development. Sometimes ideas that seem great to the people who are trying to help are not as useful to the nations that actually need the help. He believes the empowerment of a local population to create their own responses is very important.

There were about 30 people in attendance and a short question-and-answer segment followed the discussions. Some insightful questions were brought up by students for the panel to answer.

Megan Christensen, a junior international studies major, attended the event and enjoyed all the ideas that were presented, but wished there was more time to hear from the students.

“The only thing that would have made it better would be if each presenter spoke less upfront and we had more time for questions and answers,” said Christensen.