It was while an undergraduate student studying sociology and anthropology at the University of Guelph that Sarah Tuckey first found herself interested in development work. She took a couple of classes in the latter half of that degree that focused her attention on issues of women and development in the global south. "They were anthropology courses, so they were very ethnographic in their presentation of the facts," says Tuckey with a smile. "I just thought it was so fascinating!"
It was an experience that ultimately helped her chart her course to Queen's. Tuckey, 24, is now one of a handful of students studying for her Master's degree in the university's new 12-month Global Development Studies graduate program. The Mississauga-native had been working at an NGO in downtown Toronto when a friend sent her a notice about the new Queen's program.
Though she had been accepted into a couple of different universities, Tuckey decided on Queen's because she liked the idea of being a "guinea pig" in a new program. "I liked the idea of coming to a place where they had a coherent, close-knit department that specialized in development," says Tuckey, who says she was also drawn to the idea of forging strong relationships with faculty in a new program. "(The professors) here really care about how we are doing," she says.
The intensive program sees students taking three courses a semester for two semesters, and then spending the summer working on a major research project. For Tuckey, that will mean focusing on "gender mainstreaming," which she describes as a way for development organizations to "consider gender dynamics" when making decisions. She says the notion applies to everything from UN peacekeeping missions in Somalia -- "they would have to consider the effects of war on both females and males -- especially because women are doubly affected by war" -- to small scale NGOs working on water purification projects by comparing water use among men and women, for example.
When asked about the future, Tuckey pauses, "That's a tough question!" she says with a laugh. "I think I'd like to go back into NGO work, though I'm not sure in what capacity yet...but I'd definitely like to use the lessons and things that I've learned here." Tuckey says that down the road she could see herself doing policy work, possibly at a smaller scale NGO that does work on gender.
For now, though, Tuckey is focused on finishing her degree. "This is definitely the busiest I have ever been in my entire life," she says, "but it's a good busy. I have learned more here than I have ever learned before...my undergraduate degree pales in comparison to what I have learned in the last six months. I think it's just been fantastic, and I'm going to miss every second of it once it's over."