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New global development group aims for community, political awareness

DEVON NICOLE ZANDER/The Stanford Daily

A new student group, the Stanford Global Development Association (SGDA), aims to connect students to global development programming in an effort to increase awareness and understanding of international issues.

SGDA co-founders Jasmin Dalsgard ’21, Anjali Katta ’19 and Nick Shankar ’20 officially launched SGDA on Oct. 6.

“[At the launch event] we saw the beginning of a community I have been looking for since I came to Stanford,” Dalsgard said.

The co-founders were put in touch with each other by Corrine Thomas, program manager of the Stanford Center on Global Poverty and Development. Thomas and Grant Miller — director of the Center — will serve as faculty advisors for the group.

According to the three student leaders, the inspiration for SGDA came from a sense that Stanford’s global development programs were disjointed and insufficiently student-led.

“Stanford has so many resources pertaining to issues that really matter to the world, but there is not [a] distinct, cohesive community that can bring these resources to one place,” Shankar said. “We hope to be a hub bringing resources together for global development.”

Additionally, Katta believes SGDA can offer a way for students to learn about the political issues that exist outside of the United States.

“A lot of organizations on campus for politics and political issues center around America, and I think that’s important but that’s not where my interests lie,” Katta said. “I think SGDA is a good place to make more global involvement happen.”

In fact, all three co-founders attributed their interest in global development issues — including healthcare, refugee rights and poverty — to experiences of international exposure such as travel, time spent living abroad or family stories of immigration. They said such experiences made them cognizant of the privileges afforded by their own upbringing.

The group founders hope that SGDA will serve not only as a hub for people already passionate about development but also as a means of exposing newcomers to various global development challenges through internships and fellowships.

“[We] have to remember that it’s almost a privilege for us to have had the opportunity to see international issues firsthand,” Dalsgaard said. “That’s why we want to give students opportunities to go physically to these countries and understand them.”

The co-founders added that two specific programming goals also informed the formation of the group: a desire to bring faculty, outside experts and students together to discuss global development, and a goal of forming mentorships between new students and upperclassman.  

The latter in particular is rooted in the vision Daalsgard, Katta and Shankar have for building a community that can engage with these issues together.

“The main thing that I really hope to accomplish is building that community because [SGDA] is a really important platform to doing meaningful work together.,” Katta said. “If you get along with the people and you know who they are, it makes it much easier to work on something.”

 

Contact Megha Parwani at mparwani ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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