Blog #2 – July 1, 2014
By Subi Azim and Kate Olson (Group 1 Social Structures and Migration)
Day Two started nicely, after yesterday’s rain, we saw some sun! After arriving on the UAEM campus we started right into learning about Comparative Rural Policy from Ray Bollman and Tom Johnson. The role of policy and comparative rural policy became clear in this session. The level of density and distance to high distance areas are important when considering rural policy according to Ray. He also discussed the value of the case study, emphasized the fact that one case study doesn’t really give you the really important information unless you compare. But you also need to consider the number of observations… To add to this, Tom gave a clear understanding of why comparative policy is important and relevant: it allows us to understand different roles of history in different places. The challenges of policy, however, come from the forces of change (societal) as well as the institutional context. Important questions to take into consideration in these contexts are: 1. How are challenges addressed by policy? (and also the unintended consequences) 2. How have challenges changed policy over time? And 3. How have policies and responses to them changed the challenges?
Once we finished the first session, Judy Stallman facilitated a conversation about the “simple” topic of government (How many levels of government does your country have?). Which, with a little conversation we realized this was not as simple of a task as it seemed. We also took into consideration what defines a government, as there may be different definitions. In describing what a government does, the importance of autonomy was also addressed.
By this time we were hungry and had another good lunch at the UAEM. On a full stomach some of the group went outside to enjoy the nice weather and discovering the campus surrounding!
When we returned for the afternoon session Willi Meyers, Ray Bolman, Bruno Jean and Matteo Vittuari led us in a discussion about agricultural policy. They gave an overview of Agricultural Policy in European, American and Canadian (and Quebecois) contexts. They also talked more about the issues surrounding food waste and food losses in European Union—which still do not have a common policy. After the many student and faculty questions and discussion on these topics, we bussed over to the other UAEM campus.
At the UAEM campus we had a wonderful presentation by Dr. Manuel Gerardo Flores from the OECD (Director of the Public Governance and Territorial Development, Mexico). He discussed Structural Reform in Mexico and how it impacts rural areas. Answering questions from students, he also discussed issues associated with regulations—how in some contexts they work well and are enforced and in other situations they are not at all enforced and how corruption can enter the scene.
To close our day of lectures, we got to hear wonderful music again during our reception with UAEM authorities. We also had wonderful snacks and drinks. Our beautiful day ended with a delicious and authentic Mexican meal at La Reliquia and a nice walk back to our hotel.
Tomorrow we will be going on our first Field Trip to Malinalco where we will see trout farms, museums and pyramids!! Stay tuned for Group 2’s update!