My name is María Paz Sagredo and I am from Chile. For the past 5 years, after completing the MSc in SDP, I have been working as a researcher in the Public Policy Centre of the Catholic University of Chile. My main topic of research has been citizens’ participation and the role of civil society organisations in the design and execution of public policies. I also teach participatory research methods for sociology students.
What I like the most about my job is the possibility to work along different actors, such as CSOs, public officers, academics and students, researching and generating solutions to public issues. This is also one of the main challenge I face constantly: promoting collaborative and participatory processes with actors that sometimes have very different agendas and interests.
I am also starting a PhD in Sociology in the Colegio de México in Mexico City. Working in a university has helped me understand and value the role that the academy has to play in development and public policies, providing evidence-based knowledge and articulating different actors and institutions. I also value greatly the possibility of teaching and learning from students, specially by working together in practical activities, something that I really enjoyed while studying at the DPU.
Before enrolling at the MSc in SDP at the DPU I studied Sociology in Chile. While I was in college, I started volunteering in TECHO, an NGO working with families living in extreme poverty. During four years, I worked with different housing and neighbourhood associations of slums in Santiago, in slum-upgrading and social development programs. When I completed my studies in Sociology, I began to work professionally in TECHO, first as a researcher and later implementing permanent housing programs funded by state subsidies. After almost three years in Techo, I worked for two years in a private consulting firm, specifically in a socioeconomic and cultural Development Program.
I first heard of the SDP programme because of some friends that were studying at the DPU. I became really interested in the approach and the academics working there. The main reason why I finally chose the MSc Social Development Practice was its critical approach to people-centred development. I also valued that the program considers diversity and local identity as a very important variable of development. Additionally, I was attracted by the fact that practical experience is as important as the delivery of theoretical content, that I felt would complement my previous professional experience. What I hoped to achieve by participating in the course was learning about theories and practices of social development, identifying development practices that have contributed to the reduction of poverty and inequality in an efficient and sustainable manner. I was also interested in analysing the role played by public and private institutions in this area.
My main advice for current and future SDP students is: take advantage of all the opportunities that UCL, the DPU and the programme has to offer. Go to class, read the readings, get actively involved in the practical module projects, but also go beyond that. Get involved in the work done by the partner organizations, such as Citizens UK, talk to your teachers and work with them in other projects if possible. And finally, make new friends, learn about their countries and their cultures, have fun and enjoy London together.