Training future leaders of development

May 29, 2015

Co-authored by Graham Wood, Senior Vice President, Pact and Beryl Levinger, Distinguished Professor and Program Chair, The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

This summer, a new generation of students and practitioners is learning how to design international development projects rooted in local solutions. Development program sponsors and implementers are increasingly recognizing that local solutions are a vital ingredient in any sustainable development strategy.

Through a partnership between The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and Locus, a landmark initiative dedicated to finding new solutions to old development challenges by focusing on local solutions and integrated programming, 19 students and current development professionals will gather in Nairobi to gain hands-on experience in design, partnering, management and innovation (DPMI).

This is a pivotal year for international development. The Millennium Development Goals are coming to a close and a new chapter is unfolding with the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals. With these big changes come discussions on what has and has not worked, the path forward and how to finance this path.

Across the international development field, one prescription that is rising to the top of the discussion is local solutions. No longer are people satisfied with the historical nature of development in which someone in Washington, D.C., or Geneva determines solutions to challenges faced by communities in Myanmar, Ethiopia or Guatemala.

Local knowledge and expertise must be harnessed to achieve true, transformational change.

This is a core objective of Locus, which promotes local, integrated solutions to address the underlying causes of poverty. The Locus agenda also includes adoption of a shared measurement system that helps the development sector readily identify effective initiatives, as well as those that require further refinement.

Monterey’s DPMI certificate program offers participants the tools and skills they need to forge effective, local networks, alliances and partnerships. This orientation makes Monterey and Locus natural partners.

DPMI participants will learn how to map local systems; translate findings into compelling project designs; and promote organizational learning for continuous improvement. DPMI participants, who come from the U.S., Africa and Latin America, will learn from one another as they search out innovative solutions to persistent problems.


Locus is a coalition of nongovernmental organizations, foundations and consulting firms dedicated to finding new solutions to development challenges, focusing on integrated approaches to development and a search for evidence-based, local solutions. To date, its members include Pact, IRC, FHI360, SNV USA, Africa Capacity Alliance, the Aga Khan Foundation USA and Nuru International.

The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey is a professional graduate school that offers rigorous training for the next generation of development practitioners and policymakers.