Meet Laura Baines, a Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development graduate who is set to help women in need around the world.
For Laura Baines, choosing a master’s program was a serious business.
“I developed criteria for what I wanted from a course: a focus on gender; a focus on the Pacific because I have an ongoing passion for all things Pacific-related; it had to have an internship option; and it had to be a world-recognised course. I went to a number of information evenings and actually visited Australia from New Zealand to look at a number of universities, and the Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (MAAPD) course at ANU just fit.”
But, that decision was easy for Laura compared to choosing a specialisation within the program.
“There is something for everyone with five or six specialisations, and it was a hard decision to choose one, but with my interest in gender and development, that’s what was most important to me. However, even if you are interested in a particular area you don’t have to take that specialisation to grasp that knowledge, because something like gender and development or indigenous policy is embedded into all the specialisations.
“Also, as part of the course you get to take electives, and I was lucky they approved for me to take an elective from Pacific studies, because of my interest in that area. So lecturers are willing to let you go outside the program and follow your interests so long as it’s within the development sphere.”
Having now finished the program, Laura says the MAAPD lived up to the high demands she set from the outset.
“It absolutely has. I just feel so blessed to have undertaken this course because it’s taught me so much and given me so much practical knowledge about gender and development. I’m confident after doing the course that I know I want to work in this area in the future; it’s really cemented that passion for me.”
Of particular benefit, says Laura , was being exposed to development issues in regions new to her. These included gender-based violence in Melanesia, and learning practical participatory techniques and qualitative research methods in the Social Mapping and Community Politics course.
Her teachers were also one of the program’s biggest selling points.
“They’re all renowned in their field, but they’re really nice people as well, and very approachable. They’re always encouraging of students and willing to encourage you within your interests. All of them have development experience either with NGOs or international organisations like the World Bank or the United Nations. Some of them have been working in development for 30 or 40 years, and their names always come up when you’re scanning the literature.”
Laura attributes her success in securing internships with CARE Australia and the Aurora Project to having completed the MAAPD, and is now looking for practical, hands-on experience at an NGO where she can focus on her dual passions of gender and the Pacific.
“I wouldn’t have been offered opportunities like the internship in the Humanitarian Emergency Response unit at CARE if I wasn’t enrolled in this course. This degree is well recognised, and employers actively recruit from this degree. In class, you get such a range of people from all over the world, you know it’s a world-class degree.”