Graduation advice for aspiring humanitarians: Don’t try to save the world

Posted on May 29th, 2014 by

aaaaGeography Professor William Moseley of Macalester College gives advice for students looking to begin a career in international humanitarian service: “Graduates hoping to embark on an international humanitarian career should not do it to ‘save the world’.”

While working to make the world a better place is a noble goal, it often sets up a problematic dichotomy between those doing the helping and those being assisted. This approach also obfuscates the links between wealth generation in some parts of the world and deprivation in others. . .

“Rather than charity, the need is for allies and collaborators in a common fight against injustice.”

He also emphasizes the need for regional knowledge: “The prevailing wisdom in the development assistance arena today is that you need strong technical skills to be successful. While expertise in public health, agriculture or natural resource management is definitely helpful, don’t forget about the importance of deep regional knowledge. This means learning local languages, spending extended periods of time in an area, and studying regional history, culture, geography and politics.”

Read the entire opinion piece at Aljazeera.


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