This was written by one of our outstanding U.P. alumnus, Mr. Yfur Fernandez.
The Alternative Practicum of UP Development Studies
UP Development Studies demonstrates how to hold an “alternative practicum” with an aim to infuse nationalistic goals – a break from the traditional.
The “practicum period” of any educational institution is the soul of an academic course. While others do it in offices and institutions, the University of the Philippines Manila, Development Studies Program holds it alternatively – making it a non-traditional academic practicum.
Subscribing to its ideal of “theory and practice,” the Development Studies Program of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila takes the countryside as its alternative practicum base.
UP Development Studies
Social Science Professor and former UP Faculty Regent Roland G. Simbulan defines Development Studies as “a multi-disciplinary field of study that includes an understanding of the economic, political, social, technological and cultural aspects of social change especially in underdeveloped and developing countries.”
He adds, “It contributes to policy-making by seeking solutions and strategies to address problems and obstacles to genuine human development. These issues are examined within a historical, comparative and international perspectives, taking into account the countries’ specific circumstances, history, and culture.”
According to its academic description, B.A. Development Studies at the state university combines economics, political science, and cultural studies. Its objective is to provide the students with the theories and skills in the social, economic, political, and cultural development of people.
Political Economy as Guiding Mechanism
In line with the instilled idea of “praxis” or the marriage of theory and practice, Development Studies takes political economy as its gear for social investigation and class analysis.
Political economy takes into account the substructure or the economic base. This includes the condition of both the mode and forces of production. Alongside is the keen scrutiny of the superstructure, which covers concepts as religion, culture, laws and other non-economic concepts.
Development Studies PracticumBy doing so, students are able to analyze the two differing ideas of the material condition and the political dominion, thus the concept of “political economy.” The Marxist perspective of political economy shows the nearest resemblance to this alternative practicum.
Technically called DS190 (Development Studies 190), the program with the support of local mass organizations inside and out of the University successfully holds its “alternative practicum” in the countryside every summer.
Student practicumers, who come in groups, are given specific advisers, guides from an agrarian reform group and a native guide from pre-assigned communities. They stay alternately with foster families who live in the same deployment area.
In a period of five to six weeks, students learn to live with the people from the countryside, which include peasants, fisher folks, and national minorities. This, as an entirety constitutes the largest population of the Philippines, thus being considered as the “economic base.”
The program believes that the mass base is the most appropriate channel in order to serve the program’s purpose of being pro-people, pro-mass, and pro-poor. Students get to live with the marginalized, underrepresented, and disenfranchised sectors of the Philippine society. They participate in people’s day to day existence and integrate in their struggle for land and other social issues.
After the actual deployment, students are assigned to accomplish two assessments, the mid and final assessments of the practicum proper. They are expected to expose the “objective condition” of the locality and align it to the concepts of Development Studies – a logical discourse expected from social science students.
A practicum conference will be held weeks after. This practicum conference highlights the learnings of the student practicumers. They are given the chance to uncover the plight of their respective localities through audiovisual presentations, which are cautiously organized and examined.
In addition, daily journals, student reflections, a primer and a case study are required to be submitted as part of the grading process. However, students’ grades are weighed in from a major percentage from the local organizations, which cultivated the entire practicum.
Development Studies, An Alternative Course
The Development Studies course at the UP Manila is commended not only because of its alternative practicum, but also its trail as an alternative course. The program houses a faculty of professors specializing public administration, cultural studies, political science, economics, and political economy promoting “nationalist goals.”
The program considers its alternative practicum as a humble return of the University to the people. Students are expected to observe not only their passion for “academic excellence” but also their principle to serve the people – their “social responsibility” as “scholars of the nation.”
*Yfur Fernandez is an alumnus of the Development Studies Program.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in posted Aug 9th 2010