A Peace Corps Master’s International program in mitigation of natural geological hazards: Student outcomes and lessons learned
Published:May 01, 2016
Stephanie Tubman, Essa Paterson, John S. Gierke, 2016. "A Peace Corps Master’s International program in mitigation of natural geological hazards: Student outcomes and lessons learned", Geoscience for the Public Good and Global Development: Toward a Sustainable Future, Gregory R. Wessel, Jeffrey K. Greenberg
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The Michigan Technological University Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) program in mitigation of natural geological hazards combines Peace Corps service with a master’s degree in geology, geophysics, or geological engineering. The program provides students with a 2 yr international field experience, which helps to educate an adaptable, interculturally competent geoscientist. The challenges of conducting research while serving in the Peace Corps often provide opportunities for substantial learning and growth. A multiple-year evaluation of the PCMI program (2005–2013) suggests substantial impacts on students’ professional confidence and career aspirations. These conclusions are supported by data drawn from an objective-based evaluation of the Remote Sensing for Hazard Mitigation and Natural Resource Protection project, which supported the PCMI students. Instruments employed in the project assessment include the Intercultural Development Inventory, exit surveys, individual qualitative interviews, postparticipation tracking, and a comparison group survey. The small participant population and relatively short project duration, however, limit the definitiveness of the conclusions and how broadly they can be applied. These first 10 yr of this unique program have provided many lessons on the administration of a nontraditional international master’s degree program, including the difficulties of applying research to international development, funding, and advising students serving abroad in the Peace Corps. While the career paths of the program’s graduates remain in progress, the students’ unique skills and experiences are likely to be in demand given the global scope of many natural resource and environmental challenges.