Foundation Topics for Understanding Rural and Urban Development: An Integrated Reflection Paper

aerial photography of brown roofs

Sharing with you my assignment for the subject DDA 329: Special Topics in Rural and Urban Development.

The Academic Journey

           Taking the track of earning the degree of Doctor in Philosophy and majored Development Research Administration is a journey of many tales to tell. The destination is yet to be reached, but the path opens different portals that piqued my realization about this road I am taking. 

           Making sense of research in the context of rural and urban development drags my thoughts on what public service means. It is for me a call to exert my full effort in understanding the different theories of development, for me to prepare myself that I may serve better – to be well equipped with the necessary skills and wisdom that I may help those who are truly in need. Just like what a medical doctor does, he did not earn the degree for the healthy ones, but for those who are sick and in need of immediate medical attention. Earning this degree is answering to the challenge set by Robert Chambers when he wrote his book about Putting the Last First – valuing the richness there is in poverty. 

The Relevance of Positivism and Normativism

           Indeed, when you make further steps toward the destination, you’ll get clearer visuals of what the journey is all about. When Dr. Antipolo elaborated about how the research designs are anchored to positive science and normative science, it is when that I realized that these philosophies are windows to reality as these talk about “what is” and “what should be” respectively. Research designs are just the bridges needed to transfer raw data and convert them into useful information, which can be ingested into a system.

           Positivism unmasks truth by challenging the researchers to go to the field, to dig deeper into the roots of reality. Normative sets the task of crafting the best standard measures of what policies and procedures should be. With the protocols on the conduct of the research designs, rational investigations can be done, which makes this academic endeavor more worthwhile.

GDP is Not Alone  

           As the discussion continued, we were brought into the shelf of development perspectives wherein it was highlighted that GDP is not alone as an indicator of progress. I would agree to this because I have discussed this with my students in our Science, Technology, and Society 121 class.

Indeed, there are other factors to be considered and one that struck me most is the measure of the Human Development Index. Although some authors would argue that this parameter can be measured by other social indicators, but for me, it will all boil down to the health conditions and literary rates of the citizens.

This realization is what I already shared with my students, highlighting the need to secure health and education as these two can make or break the future of every nation. Thus, GDP can still be a measure, but not a solitary indicator of how progressive a country is. 

The Ideal and the Real

           The Circular Flow Models are an eye-opener for me. It illustrated the ideal – the balanced system, yet it also acknowledged the disruptions caused by other factors, which moved the bar, putting more weights to the other corner, disrupting equilibrium, thus mirroring reality. 

           It is thought-provoking for me because when other factors were put into the model, it projected the chaos which is happening in the real world. It poses a challenge like a jigsaw puzzle where researchers need to organize and fix. But just like this board game, the struggle begins which piece needs to be picked first, where should it be placed – to create order.

When Numbers Make Real Sense

           Finally, when faced with uncertainties, this does not mean to take the U-turn, but a signal to push ourselves to give it a try. I believe that equations have meanings and the complexities brought by understanding how these equations were derived are just crooked paths leading to a paradise of wisdom and deeper apprehension.

           Untangling those abstract thoughts and replacing numbers with words – that represent people like the government, the people, the system, that’s when all start making sense. That’s when our job begins. It is about demystifying everything, translating these equations into words and phrases that can easily be understood by the common men because it is them who we serve.

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