Master of Science Panama Field Work Experience

Master of Science Panama Internship Possibilities

For two years, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama, the Payson Center (now known as the Payson Graduate Program in Global Development) offered its Panama Field Work Experience program, which allowed students to maintain the same core class structure and sequencing of its Master’s of International Development curriculum, while performing an internship with a United Nations agency or other development organization for elective credit.

For the 2015-16 academic year, the Panama Field Work Experience program will be slightly different as a result of organizational changes in both UNDP Panama and the Payson Center, and while we hope to offer a similar option in subsequent academic years, we cannot guarantee continuation as of June 2016.

Panama, the Humanitarian Hub

Geographically situated between two oceans and two continents, the Republic of Panama has always been a natural global crossroads. Over the past couple of decades, as the Panama Canal, former United States military bases and surrounding Canal Zone have passed back to Panamanian sovereignty, these reverted areas have become a hemispheric logistics and humanitarian hub. Panama is now the designated United Nations Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) center that hosts the regional offices of most UN agencies, including:

Consequently, Panama has also attracted the regional offices of many other international organizations, which has led to the generation of humanitarian and development synergies for the entire region.

Tulane in Panama

Tulane University’s Dr. Nanette Svenson has lived and worked in Panama throughout this transition and spearheaded the development of Payson’s Panama Field Experience. First as a UNDP official and then as a development consultant and Tulane professor, she has worked steadily to strengthen ties between Panama’s LAC UN hub and Tulane’s Payson Center for International Development. This effort resulted initially in a series of short, intensive courses based in Panama, primarily in the areas of Environmental Law and Sustainable Development and UN Fieldwork. 

Internships in Panama for Elective Credit

In Panama, students will be able to avail themselves of a truly practice-oriented, international experience in pursuit of their degrees, with new electives related directly to development work in the LAC region. Starting in Spring 2016, Tulane's partner, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is implementing a competitive system for existing positions, which may not guarantee a student's ability to obtain a UNDP internship for the full duration of their one or two semester study term in Panama. We anticipate that students with development work experience and/or Spanish language skills will have an advantage in vying for these positions.

Nevertheless, because of the number of UN and international agencies in the City of Knowledge, the program anticipates that it will be able to place students in internships that align with their professional interests for those that are interested in the Panama Field Work Experience Master's program.

These include internship opportunities with UN and other development organizations along with specially designed courses on regionally pertinent topics such as:

  • urban development,
  • public health,
  • food security, and
  • sustainable tourism

A live course will be offered on the above topics provided we have a sufficient number of students in the Tulane cohort – likely at least six students. If there are fewer than six students, at least for the 2015-16 academic year, Payson will, through the offices of Dr. Svenson, seek to assist students in an internship placement and students can take courses on a distance-basis. If there is sufficient demand, it is our hope to continue to grow the program after the 2015-15(16) academic year.

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