The purpose of the Keegan Traveling Fellowship is to pursue personal enrichment and international travel for one full year through a self-directed project or proposal. Furthermore, the Keegan Traveling Fellow is also responsible for additional fundraising, planning, and maintaining a personal website and finances. More importantly, the Keegan Traveling Fellow represents Vanderbilt University as a global leader and traveler.
As next year's Keegan Traveling Fellow, I plan to work with local and international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in developing countries. I hope to study and explore how NGOs work to meet their objectives and work with their local communities. NGOs play a vital role in development work in many developing countries. However, some NGOs work better than others, and there is plenty of criticism and support for NGOs in the developing world. Furthermore, the countries that I will visit are those that endured many years of conflict, turmoil, and corruption. All of these countries are in the democracy and peace building/keeping process. Many NGOs help to restore peace and maintain democracy in these post-conflict countries. Moreover, I hope to observe NGOs that focus on democracy and human rights. Human rights violations are still a major problem around the world. Lastly, the final component of my research is to identify service learning opportunities for students. Service learning is a critical component of our education because it allows us to immerse ourselves in the lives of others, learn from their stories, and to impact the lives of the people we meet.
To study and explore the role of NGOs in post-conflict countries and communities in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
To witness and to understand the role of democracy and peace in these countries.
To challenge myself to live and study in 12 countries from 3 diverse continents.
To spread awareness about global human rights issues.
To identify a strong, reliable network of international opportunities for college students.
To improve the networking between undergraduates and recent graduates with international non-profits or NGOs.
To teach students the importance of cross-cultural awareness, global issues, civic participation, and the endless possibilities of service abroad. To challenge students to experience a different way of life.
To expand my personal knowledge of global cultures and issues.
To create an alliance of universities who will offer short-term or long-term volunteer programs or opportunities for their students (credit or non-credit based).
To educate the Vanderbilt University community about the Michael B. Keegan Fellowship and its current project.
To provide service or fundraising/donor opportunities in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to United States corporations. Corporations would serve as sponsored donors of service projects.
What are Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)?
The following article is from Beyond Intractability
The article is by Carol Stephenson and it is accessible by the following link: NGOs
Nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, are generally accepted to be organizations which have not been established by governments or agreements among governments. According to Harold Jacobson, author of one of the established texts in international organization, NGOs, like intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), have regularly scheduled meetings of their members' representatives, specified decision-making procedures, and a permanent staff. Their members are usually individuals and private associations, rather than states, and they may be formally established networks of other organizations. A wide variety of NGOs function in intractable conflicts. These include conflict resolution NGOs, as well as those in humanitarian assistance, development, human rights, peacebuilding, and other areas.
While the term "NGOs" is sometimes used interchangeably with "grassroots organizations," "social movements," "major groups," and "civil society," NGOs are not the same as any of these. Grassroots organizations are generally locally organized groups of individuals which have spring up to empower their members and take action on particular issues of concern to them. Some NGOs are grassroots organizations. But many are not. Social movements are broader and more diffuse than organizations; a social movement encompasses a broad segment of society which is interested in fomenting or resisting social change in some particular issue--area, such as disarmament, environmental, civil rights, or women's movements. A social movement may include NGOs and grassroots organizations. "Major groups" is a term coined at the time of the United Nations 1992 Rio "Earth Summit" as a part of Agenda 21 to encompass the societal sectors which were expected to play roles, in addition to nation-states and intergovernmental organizations, in environment and development. NGOs are identified as one of these sectors, but NGOs overlap with many of the other sectors; there are women's NGOs, farmers' NGOs, labor NGOs, and business NGOs, among others. Finally "civil society" is a term that became popularized at the end of the Cold War to describe what appeared to have been missing in state-dominated societies, broad societal participation in and concern for governance, but not necessarily government. Civil society is thought to be the necessary ingredient for democratic governance to arise. NGOs are one part of civil society.
While it is often argued that NGOs are the voice of the people, representing grassroots democracy, a counter argument is made that NGOs have tended to reinforce, rather than counter, existing power structures, having members and headquarters that are primarily in the rich northern countries. Some also believe that NGO decision-making does not provide for responsible, democratic representation or accountability.
NGOs themselves can be local, national, or international. Sometimes international NGOs are referred to as INGOs. Historically, most NGOs accredited to the UN Economic and Social Council have been international, but contrary to the popular wisdom, even the first group of NGOs accredited to ECOSOC in the 1940s included some national NGOs.
Nongovernmental organizations are not a homogenous group. The long list of acronyms that has accumulated around NGOs can be used to illustrate this. People speak of NGOs, INGOs (international NGOs), BINGOs (business international NGOs), RINGOs (religious international NGOs), ENGOs (environmental NGOs), GONGOs (government-operated NGOs -- which may have been set up by governments to look like NGOs in order to qualify for outside aid), QUANGOs (quasi-nongovernmental organizations -- i.e. those that are at least partially created or supported by states), and many others.
While some other groups are nongovernmental, they are not usually included under the term NGO. The term usually explicitly excludes for-profit corporations, and private contractors, and multinational corporations (MNCs), although associations formed by MNCs, such as the International Chamber of Commerce, are considered NGnOs. Similarly, political parties, liberation movements, and terrorist organizations are not usually considered NGOs. Recently, however, some from outside the field of international organization, especially military writers, have begun to refer to terrorist movements as NGOs, some would say in order to discredit NGOs. Peter Willetts, an authority on NGOs, argues in defining NGOs that "a commitment to non-violence is the best respected of the principles defining an NGO."