Archive for Immersive Learning (MIIS & External Ops)

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

MIIS Students in London for UN’s International Maritime Organization Meeting

imoLast week a group of 7 students, led by Professor Patrick Cotter, went to London to attend the London Convention and London Protocol on ocean dumping of wastes and other matter at the UN’s International Maritime Organization(IMO) in London. Before leaving for the London Meeting students were asked prepare a position paper on the topics that were going to be discussed by the delegates. The topics for the papers were front-line environmental issues being considered at the meeting, including, marine geoengineering, carbon dioxide capture and storage, compliance with the treaties, technical cooperation and assistance, ship recycling, disposal of mine tailings, marine litter, environmental effects of chemical munitions disposal, and 25-year review of radioactive waste disposal in the ocean. The students were able to then listen to the discussions and debate on issues during the meeting.

During breaks for tea or lunch, they had the opportunity to interact with delegates who expressed their positions during the plenary session, including delegates from the Canada, Panama, Turkey, the US, GreenPeace and the London Convention/London Protocol Secretariat. In total there were 49 Contracting Parties (nations) at the meeting, 2 associate members, 11 observer nations, 5 NGO observers, 3 UN agencies, and MIIS student observers at the meeting.  The meeting was chaired by Nigeria with support from the London Convention/London Protocol Secretariat.

The MIIS Digital Learning Center setup a chat for the group using “SlackBot”.  During the meeting, Professor Cotter was able to comment instantly on points that were being made to allow the students to understand the importance or implications of an intervention by a national representative.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

DPMI and DPMI Plus Application Deadline for January Trainings is October 31

DPMI WI 2014

Design, Partnering, Management, and Innovation (DPMI) is 3-week training open to development professionals, career-changers, and graduate students.  The modules include (1) Managing Development Projects, (2) Social Change and Participatory Development, and (3) Strategic Partnership and Social Entrepreneurship. DPMI uses a cross-sector approach, taking promising practices from the development field and combining these tools with successful concepts drawn from the private sector.

DSC_7964The focus of this course is to apply and practice leadership methods within the areas of international development project management and social change.  We are looking for a diverse group of individuals whose passion revolves around the development and empowerment of communities at large.  Apply for January programs offered in Monterey and/or Rwanda by October 31.


20140117_154420With DPMI you will….

-Learn ground-breaking and ‘tried and true’ tools to solving problems, motivating staff, and establishing partnerships.

-Use the tools and standards set by major non-profits that break down and quantify processes through the lifespan of a project.

-Gain critical project management skills.  And learn how to put your training into action.

After participation in DPMI, Middlebury Institute students have the opportunity to go into the field for 3-9 month professional internships and be part of the DPMI Plus program. Read more about this opportunity on our DPMI LinkedIn Blog. Apply for DPMI Plus by October 31.

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Immersive Learning in Mindanao

Theiline Cramer in the field in Mindanao. Photographed by Maritza Munzon

Theiline McMahon Cramer in the field in Mindanao (Photographed by Maritza Munzón)

Theiline McMahon Cramer (Talie), duel degree candidate in TESOL and IEM, participated in last January’s Center for Conflict Studies field course entitled, Challenges to Peacebuliding in Mindanao led by Dr. Puspha Iyer.

Talie’s blogs speak to the immersive learning experience at MIIS, “I’m basking in the opportunity to reflect on my own experience as I learn a mile-a-minute.  It’s day one and my mind is full of preconceptions and is ready to be filled and sculpted and filled with the knowledge of the people that live in this very foreign world. ”  Her stories from Mindanao are very introspective and humble, “the longer we are here, the more I learn – and more and more I realize I know nothing at all.”

Tylie’s blog posts also highlight profound learning moments, “Going from meeting to meeting, community to community, I’ve begun to zoom in on the details of an individual’s experience, what the meaning behind a certain man or woman’s answer to a question about their experience with peace education may mean on a broader scale.  This trip is so rich with knowledge and experience that, honestly, I had started to focus in on the details – the details that lead you to the broader picture that these international organizations maintain.”

Read more about Tylie’s and her cohorts experiences in Mindanao on the field course blog Challenges to Peacebuilding in Mindanao>>>.

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Immersive learning in Japan and China

Merideth Bush touring the Japanese Diet in Tokyo.

The Dean of the Graduate School of International Policy and Management, Dr. Kent Glenzer, describes immersive learning as, “flying in a plane while you build it.”  Merideth Bush, duel degree candidate in IPD and MBA, participated in last Spring Break’s East Asia Practicum course, on foreign policy, trade, and security led by Dr. Tsuneo Akaha and Dr. Wei Liang.  During the seminar, Merideth “flew her plane” with a great deal of openness, awareness, and humor.

Thinking back on her experience, Merideth wrote, “I think of a region where I was impacted by the blend of the ancient with the modern, something that for me, as an American and and therefore a citizen of a very young country, was new and fascinating.  –I remember standing in the middle of Tiananmen square trying to imagine the immense plaza 26 years earlier, packed with passionate university students like myself, many of whom would meet tragic deaths in the very place where I stood.”

She also remembers, “a hilarious tutorial on how to eat noodles with chopsticks and a memorable first-experience with a high tech toilet fully equipped with a heat seat, sound effects, and frankly a rather over zealous bidet.”

Merideth concluded, “the political education I received in Tokyo and Beijing was invaluable, but it is the cultural experiences that will stay with me for years to come.”  Read more about Immersive Learning experiences available this January-term 2016 and Spring Break 2016>>>.

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

MIIS Center for the Blue Economy fellow gets surprise visit from MIIS staff at Nairobi UNEP Headquarters

IMG_1707On the day of my departure from Nairobi, I ventured to the Gigiri neighborhood of Nairobi to visit the 140 acre United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON). The complex houses over 20 UN offices including the headquarters for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). Both UNEP and UN-Habitat headquarters were established in Nairobi in the late 1970s.

After you pass through UNON security you are greeted by a beautiful winding walking path lined with international flags ending at life-size bronze elephants and 10 meter high “KaribuUN” letters. The compound offers the chance of observing local wildlife such as red duikers, squirrels, marsh mongoose, vervet monkeys and olive baboons.

As I toured the conference center, I made my way to the new UNEP offices to visit our unsuspecting Center for the Blue Economy Fellow, Emma Tonge, currently serving as an intern on the Marine Litter Project. Emma follows in the footsteps of 2015 CBE fellow, Kelsey Richardson (IEP ’05) whose summer 2014 UNEP Marine Litter Project research is now being used in two published UNEP reports including: “Valuing Plastics: The Business Case for Measuring, Managing and Disclosing Plastic Use in the Consumer Goods Industry” and a second report on the use of microplastics in personal care and cosmetics products. Kelsey is now serving as a MIIS International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) fellow at the Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia, Samoa.

Click here to read more

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

MIIS IPSS alumnus tracks illicit weapons trading around the world

Information provides governments and policymakers with arms data previously never available.

It was my first year working at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) at Monterey when I met MIIS IPS ’06 alumnus Jonah Leff. He was studying the effects of conventional and small arms violence under the tutelage of MIIS professor Edward Laurance, a pioneer in the field of small arms and light weapons trade treaties and research. Jonah was also a fellow serving an internship at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Research (UNODA) through the MIIS International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) program. The IPSS program is designed to help students jump-start their careers through junior-level internships in their field during their final semester of graduate schoo.

Jonah currently serves as Director of Operations at Conflict Armament Research and is based out of Nairobi, Kenya (where we recently met). It’s been wonderful reconnecting with Jonah over the years and to see the MIIS and Middlebury College students he has supported in entering the important field of preventing armed violence.

Click here to read more

Monday, June 8th, 2015

DPMI Kenya Course Focuses on Designing Solution Strategies for Local Systems

IMG_0017 IMG_0004 IMG_0014  IMG_0015

Group includes 13 wonderfully diverse participants from seven countries

Update from Nairobi, Kenya: We are halfway through our 8-day certificate training jointly offered by the Locus Network and the Program on Design, Partnering, Management and Innovation (DPMI) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS).

Participant Profiles

The group includes 13 participants from seven countries (Kenya, Nigeria, Niger, South Africa, the Philippines, Venezuela, and the United States). Participants include Locus Network members from Pact, MIIS graduate students, and other international development practitioners. One Locus participant commented, “I’ve enjoyed meeting others in the group, and it has been a tremendous opportunity to learn from Dr. Beryl Levinger given her decades of experience in international development and teaching.”

Click here to read more

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Mark Your Calendars: East Asia Presentations this Thursday!

Presentations at Irvine Auditorium this Thursday, May 7th, 6:30-8:30pm, Reception 8:30-9:30pm!

east asia

The students that went on the first ever two-country program through MIIS Immersive Learning Programs, the East Asia: China and Japan trip, will be presenting this Thursday at Irvine, with a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception to follow. The presentations will be very interesting as this program included a semester long seminar which concluded in robust papers, and the feedback from the journey has been very interesting!

The East Asia Practicum was an investigative tour of Tokyo, Japan and Beijing, China, where participants met with and interviewed policymakers, former politicians, and renowned scholars. With unique research topics looking into the the international relations of the region, students were able to seek first-hand information on the dynamics of the two major players: Japan and China. The rise in status of either nation will set the political and economic tone for the region. By experiencing and researching within each nation, students will be able to provide original ideas on the current state of Sino-Japanese relations and the future of region.

Facebook event:

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Immersive Learners Champion Seven Countries through Nine Programs

I sat down with Maritza Munzón (MPA/IEM ’15), and Rafael Hernandez (MPA ’15) at a local coffee shop last week to interview them about MIIS’s Immersive Learning Programs. Maritza has traveled on five trips to six countries through MIIS (Peru, Cuba, Kenya, Mindanao, and East Asia), and Rafael has gone to four (Peru, Cuba, Rwanda, and East Asia). Both had a lot to say, much more than I can fit into this interview; I can’t encourage you enough to talk with your peers about their experiences abroad.

Q: What made you choose the immersive learning programs you chose?

Maritza: For me it’s always about “why not?” It is always a question of “if I don’t go, will I regret it?” And the answer is almost always “Yes”. So I do everything I can to take advantage of the opportunity to travel. MarRafFurthermore, because I am in the IEM degree program and want to conduct these trips myself one day, the best way to learn how to do this is to go on as many as I can!

Rafael: I was eager to begin traveling right away when I got here. That was the reason I picked this school over many other options – the traveling component. Right off the bat I could go on this Peru trip, that had a practical application of policy analysis, – and so I went.

M: I don’t think many people have traveled the way we travel here at MIIS.

There is only so much reading you can do about culture, practice, and so on, but you need to embed it in your muscle memory to learn and understand.

Q: Have you gone on any trips together?

Both went to Peru (but in different communities), as well as Cuba, and East Asia.

M: Peru started my obsession with these trips; the experience got my feet wet and then I wasn’t scared, anymore, to do the others.

Q: Are there any programs you especially wish you could have gone on?

R: I would have liked to go to the Philippines.

M: I would have done the El Salvador trip if I had the time. But I am always torn between what is familiar and what is less accessible. El Salvador is within my reach because of language, so I decided to take the leap and go on trips that I was less likely to do on my own:  Kenya, East Asia, and the Philippines.

Q: How did the programs and learning styles compare?

Both: Cuba was more like learning tourism, while Peru and East Asia where more research based: we did academic research in Asia, and field research in Peru.

M: I was a guinea pig for many of the trips – for example:  Kenya, Peru, and East Asia. Cuba was established. Being on a program in its first incarnation is a valuable experience for someone learning about how these programs are conducted.

R: I learned a lot about different types of intelligence and understanding. You know there is the computer competency type, where you either know it or you don’t. And if you don’t, you can ask help from someone who does – and there are no ego problems associated with that. Cultural competency, on the other hand, and especially at this school, is more complicated in that way. Then there is emotional intelligence (EQ) versus the IQ. When you go to speak to someone in a village, everyone on these trips is so concerned about being politically correct, which makes them all self-conscious. I found that the best way to take to people is honestly and openly.

Q: Since you have gone on so many of these programs, do you have any constructive feedback?

R: Like I said, these trips are one of the reasons why I chose this school. And we are so grateful for these experiences.

M: Growing up the way I did, I would have never been able to do this on my own. And I am grateful, and the best way I can give back is by applying my IEM knowledge and skills and giving constructive feedback. I was able to design a pre-departure training for the Peru trip, which was very well received, but not yet implemented. Based on our experience in Peru, Cortney Copeland and I designed a pre-departure workshop and assessment for that trip through our IEM Design and Assessment Class. In the workshop we wanted students to bond with the people in their groups, learn each other’s working styles and strength, while also getting to practice giving the surveys and entering the data. There are always hiccups with international travel and our goal was to develop cohesive groups before departure to help student better work through some of those unpredictable moments. The assessment consisted of a simple survey that students took before and after the trip to better inform staff and faculty of what is working and what needs improvement.

One of my frustrations with the organization of these trips is that the system that puts these trips together does not value the experience that the students going already have. Because the information isn’t coming from a respected magazine or periodical, but from the mouth of a student, who has had the personal experience or cultural experience growing up – but they didn’t write a paper on it, so…. We don’t get a diploma for growing up bilingual or for living similar lives to that of the people we are studying.

R: So if professors and institutions have a way, for better or worse, of validating those experiences, for example, “here is Maritza, she grew up in a culture that…..” and by doing that, it validates the person, and symbolically validates the peers that have experienced this. People come back like “I was shocked to see this and that”, and that is the only thing that gets the spotlight. But there are people who have lived this their whole lives.

M: Out of the bad comes the good. MIIS is proud of its international diversity on campus, but now there are also conversation on national diversity and socioeconomic diversity as well, which is something that came out of a critique on one of these trips. We go on these trips, and learn, and some things are difficult, but the important thing is to take the bad with the good and make something out of it. For some of us, that meant creating the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which highlights domestic diversity on campus and is working on assessing the needs of all students, whether international students, first generation college students, student of color, LGBTQ, or second career seekers. We not only wanted to address diversity by identifying the needs of all students on campus but to make sure it is something that continues to be addressed in the institution after we are gone.

Professors should also make a point to make focus groups mandatory. A format of how to measure the trips as a whole, but also each trip individually, so it can be improved upon, but that responsibility also shouldn’t sit solely on the professor’s shoulders.

Q: Any advice for students who will travel on these programs in the future?

M: Some things you can’t prepare for. Keep an open mind, don’t sweat the small stuff. Like dirt, bugs-

R: – and cold showers –

M: – and so on because it distracts from the experience. Don’t fight the discomfort.

R: You don’t need language to communicate with people. You shouldn’t necessarily know a language perfectly – keep the willingness to go at the forefront. Don’t be catered to: we chose to go, to help. Be the one helping, not the helped. Own your decision to go.

Language should not be a barrier to communicating with people. In fact, I learned from my inability to speak the local language, which became a resource of information, connection, and interaction. When I ask you, “how do you say this?”, I become your student and switch the power dynamic. People love to teach you, to speak from authority. There is laughter, and it breaks the ice and opens new things. They think, “Here is a person who wants to know my language.” It helps equalizing the playing field.

Q: Is there something you never travel without?

M: I carry medicine for altitude sickness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, congestion, and allergies; but I also carry hydration salts and EmergenC to try and prevent getting sick as well. You never know how sick you are going to get and might not be able to get to a pharmacy right away or be able to communicate what you need so its good to carry some meds you trust. Oh! and Baby wipes.

R: Baby wipes! Pen and notepad.

*shows us his pen and notepad, which, sure enough, are in his back pocket*

M: That’s what I picked up, now I’ll do that.

R: I like to record sounds from the trips, it brings you back. *plays recording*

M: Learn how to say a greeting, and please and thank you in the local language.

R: So important!


smaller headshotKatya Gamolsky (joint BA/MA ‘17) is a first year student who works for the Immersive Learning Programs Office. She recently went on the Los Angeles trip that focused on Homelessness, with Dr Iyer, and will be attending DPMI DC this summer. If you have any questions, comments, or would like to know more about our Immersive Learning Programs, please email her at

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Student Presentations for East Asia Trip

Thursday, May 7th 6:30-8:30pm

Venue to be announced

Come listen to students present on their Spring Break Immersive Trip to East Asia! They will cover topics including history and territorial disputes between Japan and China, nationalism, soft power, trade policies, international education policies in Japan and China, their roles in the Chiang Mai Initiative and emerging regional trade frameworks, and partnership with Brazil!


Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Team El Salvador 9 Presentation

Team El Salvador

Please join the members of Team El Salvador 9

in a presentation of their project work during J-Term 2015 in El Salvador

Thursday, April 16, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Digital Learning Commons (DLC), MIIS

420 Calle Principal, Monterey

Come hear about innovative collaborations in coastal resource management, sustainable fishing, public space design for community empowerment… and plans for future initiatives!

~Light refreshments will be served~

To RSVP and for more information, please contact:


Friday, April 3rd, 2015

News about the East Asia Spring Break Journey!



News from the participants and professors was posted on the front page.east asia

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Team El Salvador Looking for a Team Leader!

Students from all MIIS Programs are encouraged to Apply!

TES Leader

TES Leader 2

 Description of Responsibilities 

TES Leader 5

Leadership term lasts early May 2015 to early May 2016

For more information check out the Team El Salvador Blog or email any questions to teamelsalvadormiis@gmail !

Send Resume & Cover Letter to by Sunday, April 14th!


Monday, March 16th, 2015

Center for Social Impact Learning (CSIL) Launch Invitation

You are invited to join MIIS faculty, staff, students and alumni for the launch of the Center for Social Impact Learning on March 25th in Monterey, California!


The Center for Social Impact Learning (CSIL) provides relevant learning and research programming for students interested in exploring and developing careers in social entrepreneurship and impact investment management.

 Register for this free event today! 


Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Follow a Current IPSS Fellow’s Blog



Tom Gray, is in the Nonproliferation & Terrorism Studies (NPTS) graduate program here at MIIS.  His final semester at MIIS he is working at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria as an IPSS fellow.  Follow his journey through his blog, Every Wich Way.

Tom’s Blog offers an insightful perspective of what it is like working for a large international organization in the nonproliferation domain.

Enjoy the Blog!


Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

What are you doing this summer?

We’ve got a new page to help you answer that question:


Thursday, March 5th, 2015

East Asia Practicum Program Send-off as they Gear-Up for Spring Break Trip


Yesterday, the East Asia Practicum program had a send-off for students as they gear up for their Spring Break trip to China and Japan. As a part of ongoing China-Japan collaboration here at MIIS, the students will be going on the trip with Wei Liang and Tsuneo Akaha. Faculty and students are working together to learn about trade and security in East Asia.

Read more about the class and the trip on the East Asia Practicum Site!

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Update on the Sarah Meek Travel Grant for Research in Africa

Summer and Fall Applications Invited

In January several students applied for this grant but none were awarded. In every case the requests were for the summer because there was little time for anyone to prepare a travel grant proposal for the spring immersive learning programs.

The result is that all the money available for travel grants is now available for summer and fall travel for research on social change in Africa. The research must be conducted in Africa for a duration of at least 2 and a half months.

To receive this grant students must submit a research design that focuses on a social condition in Africa of the applicant’s choosing; e.g., poverty, environment, crime, armed violence, gender inequality, conflict, disease, education, refugees, etc., with the goal of making policy/program recommendations that can change that condition.

The application must include the following elements:

  1. Dates of research
  2. Location of research, to include a letter of support from an organization which is hosting or assisting you with your project.
  3. A two page statement that includes a complete research design, to include a research question, a literature review that shows a need for this research, evidence generation methods, and its potential impact on the social condition.
  4. A description of the deliverable and date of completion.

Applications must be received between now and 1 April. A committee of faculty judges will evaluate all applications and determine the recipients of the award by 15 April. Awards will be given as reimbursement for travel to Africa. Only enrolled students may receive a travel grant. If two students will be conducting the research together, the award will be split between the two students with a cap of $1500 per award. Travel will not be awarded for an internship, unless appropriate research will be conducted as part of the internship.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss the eligibility of your planned research for this award, please make an appointment with Professor Ed Laurance at He can also be reached at 831-402-2631.

These awards are made possible by a continuing donation from the family of Sarah Meek, a MIIS alum of 1996 whose life was cut short while working to improve social conditions in Africa.

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

New Internship Opportunity in Uganda!

Looking for a summer internship opportunity in Africa? Check out ISLA – and feel free to join tomorrow’s info session from 12pm-1pm in Morse B206!

*MPAs – this could count for DPMI Plus!

isla Uganda

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Upcoming Info Sessions for IPSS, DPMI, and Tunisia

IPSS 2016

Info Session: Thursday, February 12, 2015, 12-1pm @MG100

Application Deadline: September 1st, 2015



Info Session: Thursday, Feb 26, 2015, 12-1pm @CF452

Application Deadline:

Summer 2015: Early Review – March 1st, 2015; General Application Deadline – April 1st, 2015

Winter 2016: Early Review – September 1st, 2015; General Application Deadline – October 31st, 2015


Tunisia’s Transition to Democracy – June 2015, and more info here.

Info Session: Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 12-1pm @ MG100

Application Deadline: May 1st, 2015