What is the problem with the practitioner?

What is the problem with the practitioner who intervenes in people’s lives via international development projects? What is the problem with academia—particularly programs that educate future practitioners?

We (Kent Glenzer and Alfredo Ortiz, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) have been facilitating a conversation on these questions as part of a two-year inquiry process that includes the release of a special issue in the Action Research Journal on “Development, Aid and Social Transformation.”

Slated to be released in early 2017, the special issue will highlight examples of action research with the intent to support transformational change in the field of international development intervention (article profiles here). The special edition will also include 5 short pieces by practitioner / academics interpreting the practical relevance of each approach to their own work.

In addition to the special issue, our inquiry process has included multiple conversations via different online practitioner networks and a series of workshops with faculty and students at MIIS, where we “train” many students who have and will work in international development intervention. This has led to the creation of the “The ideal practitioner” website, an AR+ initiative sponsored by MIIS, in partnership with the Action Research Journal (ARJ).

The purpose of this initiative is to help discover, document, and foster conversation about innovative and progressive practices in fields that work to address human and environmental challenges. We wish to highlight stories of methodological innovation (including through participatory forms of action learning and research) by practitioners, teachers and learners who contribute to change processes in ways that help meaningfully surface and shift problematic patterns of interaction. In sharing these stories, our hope is they might have the opportunity to influence practice more broadly.