Development Studies – Student Profile Kevin McParland

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Kevin McParland completed his Master’s in Development Studies at Kimmage Development Studies Centre. He tells us about his postgraduate experience and working in the field in Sri Lanka.

Name: Kevin McParland

Course: MA in Development Studies

College: Kimmage Development Studies Centre (KDSC)

Understanding complex and challenging development issues

I chose to undertake my postgraduate studies at KDSC. This was due to its reputation for fostering rounded personal and professional development. The approaches to learning tapped into the experiences of the participants in the programme. For me, such an approach to learning was crucial. It helped me to achieve a critical understanding of complex and challenging development issues. Discussion and debate, reflective practice and active learning methodologies were just some of the key elements used to create an engaging and innovative learning environment.

Field Director

I work as Field Director for a small development NGO in Sri Lanka called Shining Life Children’s Trust. We work in partnership with local community-based organisations to improve the lives of children disadvantaged by war and poverty. By making use of the skills and knowledge I developed in Kimmage, I can instigate projects and initiatives. These will hopefully impact positively in the communities where SLCT works. This is possible by drawing upon KDSC’s expertise in development planning. This included managing development organisations, project cycle management, leadership and group facilitation, as well as monitoring and evaluation.

A key purpose of my work is to facilitate a process where programme participants have the opportunities, knowledge,as well as confidence and skills to undertake action orientated projects at a local level to meet their own needs. KDSC’s approach is exploring and examining development issues in a participative way, and realising just and equitable outcomes. As a result, this has been crucial to helping me to be effective in my own practice.

In addition, I acquired a diverse range of professional skills through the MA programme at KDSC. These include problem-based learning, critical reflection and participatory research. All have been vital in my career development. Furthermore, as Field Director of SLCT in Sri Lanka, the need to be an independent decision maker, to work in partnership with local NGOs, facilitating training and coaching, and ensuring that projects are managed effectively and efficiently, are all skills I acquired or refined during my time at Kimmage.

Undergrad vs postgrad

There is quite a difference in the experiences of being an undergraduate and postgraduate student. Because of that I was glad to have gained some work experience in the youth work sector after graduating and before commencing the postgraduate course. However, the MA programme at KDSC has allowed me to become a more adaptable, capable learner by placing much more emphasis on independent thought and critical analysis as well as an inquisitive mind. Consequently, these assets have proved critical in my subsequent career. They have also contributed immensely to my ability to fulfil my responsibilities and to creatively and confidently develop as a professional.



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