In a Nutshell
Welcome to my Crowdfunder! I am raising £43,221 to cover the tuition fees for my two year MPhil in Development Studies at the University of Oxford.
Whilst at Oxford, I plan to research how the growing engagement from China in Southern Africa can bring about more inclusive development outcomes for marginalised communities, particularly LGBT people. Currently, the persecution of LGBT people across much of Sub-Saharan Africa creates obstacles to development. For example, the criminalisation of homosexual sex in Zambia contributes to the proliferation of HIV/AIDS; the illicit nature of gay sex means that many aren't aware of how to have safe sex. I think that by consciously including LGBT people within development solutions, China and other international actors can begin to nudge these countries towards greater levels of tolerance and development.
Through involvement in the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), which has significant influence on large organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme, I hope that my research can go beyond Oxford and bring awareness of LGBT-related development challenges into mainstream development discourse.
Please share and donate as widely and as generously as you can. With your greatly appreciated support, I trust that I can and will reach my goal and head to Oxford in October.
Hi! My name is Brian. Two and a half years ago I got a scholarship to study at New College of the Humanities (NCH) in London where I now read Philosophy and Economics. At NCH, I am a member of the LGBT society and I separately sit on the welfare committee.
During Uni, I have been almost exclusively self-funded. I have had a number of part-time jobs; from working at a gym 20hrs a week to tutoring school students. I have balanced this and my degree with a number of internships, the most recent of which was a research position at the China Africa Advisory; an international development consultancy. To supplement this, I have also had some commissioned photography work through my self-run website.
I was born in South Africa and have grown up very conscious of the drastic inequality that the country faces. During my second year I completed a module in International Development, which combined with my first hand experience has motivated my desire to study development at a Master's level (see later for more...).
I am on the home stretch of my degree and have just been given my dream offer to study a two year MPhil in Development Studies at Oxford starting in October. I cannot, however, afford to take up my place unless I raise the fees. With your support of my Crowdfunder, however, I trust I'll raise the funds I need.
Why support me?
The tuition fees for the two year course amounts to £43,221, which is a lot of money. Though I have applied for some scholarships, they either cover a very small proportion of the fees or have very specific eligibility requirements that I don't meet (such as needing to have been educated at a certain school). The requirements for my entry onto the degree are both academic (I need a 1st in my degree) and financial (I need to prove that I can pay for the the course). The Guardian estimates that over 1000 students like me each year who are offered a place for postgraduate study at Oxford have to turn it down purely based on the fact they don't have the money to pay for it. With your support, however, I will make it to Oxford in October.
What is Development Studies?
Development Studies is an interdisciplinary degree that uses subjects like economics, history and politics to address some of the worlds most serious problems, such as poverty, inequality, poor governance and corruption (to name a few). That said, it is academic and practical in equal measure; the course provides excellent training for both future academics and development practitioners. Ultimately, it's about trying to find ways to actually improve the lives of real individuals living all over the world.
The University of Oxford's MPhil course is second to none. It is a two year course, which is a year longer than most. They put a lot of emphasis on students getting to grips with the foundations of development in the first year before specialising in the second year - I think this is excellent. This also allows for greater specialisation in year two, both in terms of module choices and thesis.
Unique to the course at Oxford is the opportunity to spend some months in the country or countries of your choice conducting fieldwork. This is absolutely necessary, in my view, if we are able to say anything credible or valuable in our research; first-hand experience is key.
Finally, in terms of my research and my career aspirations, Oxford is by far the best-suited institution to me. Given my research on China-Africa relations and the role of China in bringing about human development outcomes for marginalised communities, the course and institutions at Oxford would allow for my research to go the farthest. Separate to the course, Oxford leads two initiatives that are massively influential in both China-Africa relations and Human Development; The OUCAN and the OPHI. As a result, it is at Oxford that my research can have the biggest impact.
What's my motivation?
Throughout my life, I have grown up with a great awareness of the massive inequality in the world. Born in South Africa, I could never come to terms with the contrast of poverty and affluence that lives side-by-side in the country. I have been very fortunate in my life thanks to my parents' decision to move to London from Johannesburg in 1998 and have received many opportunities as a result. I now want to dedicate my life to facilitating other people to have similar opportunities without having to travel across the world to get them.
As a bisexual man, I have had both first-hand experience and wider exposure to the institutional hostility towards LGBT people in Southern Africa. By looking into it further, I have become keenly aware of the continued stigmatisation and, in many cases, persecution of LGBT people in Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, a recent survey in South Africa revealed that over 50% of LGBT respondents had experienced discrimination due to their sexuality or gender identity and 88% of these who had experienced hate crimes would choose not to go to the police. This is all in the country that nominally leads LGBT rights in the region.
I have also found that though human rights campaigners were reporting on these topics, development literature almost always overlooked them and only very recently have a few individual scholars began to consider LGBT issues in the context of Development. My motivation is to use my research at Oxford and the work of my career thereafter to find development solutions for LGBT communities in this region.
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