Rodrigo Echeverría, Agronomist by profession and current Director of the Master’s Degree in Rural Development at the Universidad Austral de Chile, tells us about the particularities and current challenges of an essential program for the implementation of rural development policies.
Millaray Mariqueo, Science in Chile.- Rodrigo Echeverría studied Agronomy at the Universidad Austral de Chile, then completed a PhD in the United States, to later start working in academia, as Director of the School of Agronomy, Academic Secretary of the Faculty, Dean of the Faculty for 6 years and He is currently Director of the Institute of Agrarian Economics and Director of the Master’s in Rural Development UACh.
In this last position, Rodrigo mentions that his current challenges are related to receiving the visit of the peer reviewers from the CNA “we are evaluating our program, the different teaching and learning processes, the structure of the program, the conformation of the teachers, their curricula, research areas, the performance that the students have had, the strong aspects and also the weaknesses of the program, from that self-evaluation improvements to the program are emerging and we have to execute them there, that is where we are today”.
Master in Rural Development
This Master’s degree is one of the oldest at the Universidad Austral de Chile, it dates from 1984 and was created by professors Lucía Lorca from the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and Carlos Amtmann from the Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities.Thanks to this, there was a merger between the interests of both for rural development and this shared program between both faculties was born.
The researcher defines rural development as all those policies and actions that are aimed at improving the well-being of people who live in the non-urban world. In this framework, the challenges of rural development are directly related to the contexts in which it is inserted.
“Since a long time ago, Rural Development has had as dIt is a challenge to integrate people who live in the area far from urban areas and also to improve their socio-economic conditions; That hasn’t changed in recent times. However, today other elements must be added, it is not enough that they have greater economic activity or that they are more integrated or have access to better services”. The academic highlighted the importance of considering pillars such as sustainability with considerations to social and economic aspects: “without economic support, people end up migrating to the city, which is a phenomenon that occurred a long time ago, so everything that should work in terms of rural development must those elements”.
For this, the Director of the program mentions that they focus on delivering a transversal perspective, which is favored by the fact that it is shared by two faculties. The Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities provides a more social perspective from an anthropological and humanist point of view, and the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences provides a more technical perspective focused on the agricultural sector, “both elements complement each other and students can receive a fairly transversal and inclusive training, that is, it is not focused on productive technical aspects, nor is it focused on social aspects, but rather it is a mix between the two disciplinary areas”.
Thanks to this, the graduate profile of the program allows people to work in different areas, from politicians, government positions, public institutions and the private sector, “the labor field of those who end up in the program is absolutely wide and in fact many who did not finish it, but went through it, they also have development options”.
Currently, the program is accredited and ad portas of the visit of peer reviewers within the year. To enter it, the requirements are to have a degree and go through the process of selection of notes, however, the type of degree is not restrictive, since they have had applicants from all professions, both veterinarians, agronomists, geographers, commercial engineers , lawyers, nurses and others. In addition, Echeverría mentions that they have also had students from other countries “in this sense, the program welcomes all those people who have an interest in rural development, which is transversal; It also has to do with the interest profile of people. I have had students in the Master who are agronomists, lawyers and nurses, obviously each one of them has a different performance because the nature of the professions takes them down those paths, but the important thing is that they all have an approach linked to the rural sector both from the public and private point of view” he concluded.
The application date for the second semester of 2023 of the Master in Rural Development is from June 6 to July 30. And the dates for the first semester of 2024 will open during the second semester of 2023.