The internet, embraced by scholars, professionals, nonprofits and international organizations, has created a new menu for learning about global affairs. And this new menu, which includes sites like NDI.org and DemWorks.org, should be of special interest to students of international affairs.
Dave Algoso, author of Praxis, a the well-known international aid and development blog, explains that when graduate students read blogs they gain a “policy” and “practitioner” perspective on current events instead of getting headlines that only skim the surface or scholarly articles that are stilted toward academia.
Through the website of the National Democratic Institute NDI, NDI.org, students have access to handbooks on political participation, public opinion polls from many countries, a global elections calendar, and press releases and stories about the Institute’s work around the world. In the publications section students can search by country or topic, such as citizen participation, debate, technology and marginalized groups.
While NDI currently has offices in 60 countries, it has supported democratic institutions and practices in 132 countries and territories since its founding in 1983, making the organization a storehouse of information on political development across a broad range of local contexts. The NDI blog, DemWorks.org, gives students a view of some of the world’s most pressing issues directly from those on the ground.
Reading blogs is a great way for students who are fresh out of undergrad schools to make up for their lack of professional experience. Students can read expert analyses on such topics as how the “democratic recession” needs to be matched with a “democratic stimulus” or how women are making democracy happen around the world. NDI.org and DemWorks.org can help fill the gap between scholarly articles and the morning headlines.
For students with a regional focus, NDI.org has a page for each of the countries where the Institute works that offers descriptions of ongoing programs and insights on how democracy is evolving, including in countries that aren’t often in the news like Kosovo, Burkina Faso or Niger. The page Key Documents on Democracy is a collection of UN conventions, charters and declarations that are relevant to democracy and human rights.
Resources and articles on NDI.org cover many topics, from constituency dialogues in Cambodia to nonviolent youth campaigns in Nigeria. Being versed on how organizations are supporting democracy and peace today can help students bring real-life examples to the classroom and be better prepared when it comes time to launch a career.
But job prep can also begin with the ubiquitous 20 page research paper that students know so well. By using one of NDI’s latest public opinion polls, for example, students can understand how the latest theories on development are being put into practice. And citing NDI resources is easy. Students can use Owl Purdue’s guidelines for electronic sources. If citing DemWorks.org, use the instructions for “Blog and Video Blog Posts,” and if citing a webstory from NDI.org, use instructions for “A Page on a Web Site.”