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Ph.D. Option for Rural Development Practitioners
The Rural Development Leadership Network is a U.S.-based, multicultural social-change
organization established in 1983 to support community-based development in
poor rural areas through hands-on projects, education, leadership development
Network members compose a community of rural development practitioners and
learners, many of whom have earned master's degrees while enrolled in RDLN.
Now some participants are also working toward bachelor's and associate degrees.
Because of the interest of some of those who have earned master's degrees through RDLN, we are providing the option for rural community-based development practitioners to work toward Ph.D. degrees with some peer support and interaction with others working in rural areas. The degree-granting institution is the Union Institute. The cost is approximately $60,000, not including cost of travel and lodging for required orientation, seminars, and peer days. RDLN expects members to take on the task of raising this money themselves, although we are looking for scholarship funds. A master's degree is a prerequisite, but there may be exceptions for those who are excellent writers with extensive professional experience.
The Union Institute Ph.D. is changing its requirements, but the format enables learners to work toward a degree while based in the community. The format does not require class attendance, but does require learners to attend a ten-day initial colloquium, fifteen days of seminar attendance, and ten "peer days" while working for the degree. Learners work with committees composed of Union faculty, outside faculty and peers.
This model provides the opportunity for on-the-ground rural development practitioners
to earn an advanced degree while continuing their community involvements and
to compose a community of learners who are working toward defining the field
of community-based development from a practitioner's point of view. The field
is underdocumented, and we hope that the theses of cohort members will help
contribute to literature in this field.
If you are interested, please write to us, stating the earliest date you could
begin. Please attach a resumé, a statement (one paragraph to one page)
about your proposed focus of study, describe funds identified for participation,
and give the names of three people who can provide references regarding your
work and community experience and educational background. We will send you
a packet of information and a full application. A Union Institute advisor
will assist you in developing your application if you would like this assistance.
The RDLN application asks you to describe your
background in rural community development and your reasons for choosing
to study with a group of rural development practitioners. Union Institute
recommends that you consult other university catalogues to get an idea
of the scope of work required by a conventional Ph.D. program.
If you plan to participate with the RDLN cohort,
please note this fact on your Union Institute application.
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