Duong Do has just finished his Masters of International Development Practice (MIDP) at Monash. We caught up with the former social worker, and found out how the Masters course helped him develop his big picture thinking and gain new research and project planning skills to take his career in a new direction.
Developing big picture thinking skills through interdisciplinary study
Duong started out in social work and working for an NGO in his native Vietnam. It was during this time he noticed a problem throughout the sector with gaps between macro intervention and the core approach.
The Master of International Development Practice gave Duong the opportunity to apply big picture thinking to challenges in development, human rights and regional politics.
“MIDP made me feel like I’m actually doing something that can fix these gaps in social development policy, the program brings the macro and micro together,” Duong said.
“What surprised me about the MIDP program was that I was offered this very holistic program that allows me to take the classes in different disciplines”
Working on a paper about comparative regionalism in International Relations, Duong looked at how organisations like the World Bank, the UN, and ASEAN are formed and operate from a historical and political perspective, helping him to gain new understandings about the power dynamics in international development.
“I also did a paper in the Law Faculty about international human rights law which helped me become familiar with different treaties and conventions, and being knowledgeable about these treaties is something I can use in my career in future.”
Gaining new skills in research and project planning through field work
During the course Duong became increasingly interested in research and he did a ‘minor thesis’ which took him to Vietnam for field work. There he looked at how minority communities navigate larger structures like international development organisations.
“It’s not only the practical research skills that I got to develop: skills like interviewing, running group discussions or participant observation” Duong said,
“The field work also helped me to think about strategies for getting access to the community I wanted to work with, and how to negotiate with people I needed to speak to for my research.”
Honing research skills and his area of research interest has ultimately led Duong toward higher research. Although Duong’s original career goal was to set up his own not-for-profit organisation, a pairing with an experienced mentor through the ‘Colab M’ program, allowed him to learn about the challenges ahead, and helped him re-think where he wanted to focus his energies.
Recently Duong was accepted into a PhD program with the National University of Singapore, and is excited about his future research career.