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Student Research Projects

Humanitarianism and the Politics of Economic Development in Vietnam

Student Julie Maggioncalda, Lauren Perry, Matthew Ryan, Lan Tran, Sarah Tytler
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Steven Emmanuel
Department Philosophy

Abstract

Despite remarkable economic progress in recent years, Vietnam continues to struggle with serious problems such as poverty, environmental contamination, and disease. These problems are to a large extent the result of decades of war and subsequent economic isolation. In addition to the health risks associated with increased pollution and environmental degradation, the growing disparity between urban and rural conditions exacerbates long-standing social inequity issues for Vietnam's ethnic minority populations. One of the ways Vietnam has tried to address these problems is through coordinated humanitarian efforts, such as the Office of Genetic Counseling and Disabled Children (OGCDC) at Hue Medical College. Our collaborative project focuses on the various humanitarian programs managed by the OGCDC for the people of this region.

What is extraordinary about the work of the OGCDC and makes it an ideal subject for a liberal arts inquiry is the way it coordinates the efforts of so many diverse groups: government bureaucrats, scientific/medical researchers, foreign humanitarian organizations, local civic groups, and the religious community. Each student will focus on part of these efforts, in order to contribute an important piece to the larger story. Collectively, their work will present a nuanced account of how politics, economics, science, religion, and social attitudes intersect, and sometimes clash, in the attempt to improve the conditions of Vietnam's rural poor. The planned end product is a documentary video that will situate the humanitarian work of the OGCDC in its social, political, and cultural context. Student research will provide the basic background material for the narrative, in order to raise public awareness about conditions in contemporary Southeast Asia and the complex challenges of development in the Third World.

Grants

AsiaNetwork Student-Faculty Fellows Program Grant

 

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