Oxford-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann Scholar Julia Standish-White kicks off a new series of blog posts profiling Scholars’ motivations for applying for the WHT Scholarship and Leadership programme, their academic interests, the impact of their time at Oxford and their future plans.

“In 2016, I was studying Psychology at the University of Cape Town and I realised that the individual focus of the discipline did not align entirely with the high levels of poverty, health inequality, and dissatisfaction that vast numbers of people in South Africa face. I became interested in learning about large-scale, evidence-based, social interventions and how they might be better equipped to meet the needs of the South African population. I was accepted onto the Masters in Evidence-based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation programme at Oxford, and I believed that the opportunities that would arise from studying this at Oxford would allow me to return to South Africa in a much stronger position to effect meaningful change in the country.

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“The question is no longer what are you doing to do to change the world, it’s how you are going to change the world”.

With those words, Dean Peter Tufano opened the Social Impact Careers Conference at the Saïd Business School on Friday morning. This conveyed the mood for the conference proceedings: one of optimism, urgency and responsibility. The Conference was geared towards encouraging delegates to choose career paths that had a social impact, and the bigger that impact was, the better. As a student finishing up my Masters in Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation here at the University of Oxford, I was excited to attend the Conference, and gain a deeper sense of what such a career path might look like. The Conference certainly delivered on this, as well as on providing me with some practical next steps to pursuing this path.

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Stories are powerful. They reflect what we socially consider good, valuable, and desirable. As we encounter them from a young age, stories inevitably influence our social imaginaries – that is, our worldviews, values and practices – by providing us with frames of reference and meaning. However, as stories produce and reproduce socially accepted values and expectations, they can come to function as a site for the reproduction of hegemonic norms.

Project poster

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As a Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld Scholar for Masters of Public Policy (2015-16), I had the unique opportunity to work on themes of conflict prevention during my summer project at The World Bank. I learnt through my work that natural resources including water resource remains one of the leading dimensions in todays conflict. Sometimes the intensity of the conflicts is so low in terms of violent deaths that our peace building efforts exclude them. This exclusion leads to circumstances where conditions of positive peace remain low and consequently , these disputes culminate in a sense of deprivation leading to violent eruption of conflicts. Even during the time, when the conflicts remain dormant, they still lead to stalled development and worse living conditions for conflict affected people.

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Globally, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) affect over one billion people. Most of the affected lack access to basic Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services and yet WASH is critical in the prevention and care of all NTDs (WHO, 2015).

Lydia’s Probono work supported the local government in increasing access to water, sanitation and hygiene services in 5 of the 46 villages affected by Podoconiosis (non-filarial elephantiasis) in Busiriba Sub-county, Kamwenge District.
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In partial fulfilment of the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management and with financial support from the Weidenfeld-Hoffman Trust, I undertook a project to investigate the link between the level of public engagement in water services and the adoption of water conservation practices by water users. The research was conducted from 1st June to 28th July 2017 in the city of Masvingo, Zimbabwe. The first objective was to explore the current state of public participation in Masvingo’s water services sector and to establish the ways in which it relates to water conservation practices by residents. Second, the research identified the current water conservation practices being implemented by the water users in the city. Third, the research sought to identify the determinants of water conservation among the residents of Masvingo. An analysis of the findings from the aforementioned objectives was conducted. The analysis established how the city water utility should go about consulting the public in order to adopt water conservation practices fully. It also addressed the policy implications of these findings for water conservation programmes in Zimbabwe and other countries.

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With the support from the WHT I could develop my MSc dissertation fieldwork in South Africa.
The purpose of my study was to research how to implement photography to current aerial monitoring methods to get more detailed information (e.g. sex, age, and other demographics) from wildlife surveys, using Cape buffalo as a case study.

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Every Spring, the Oxford MBA program encourages students to undertake Student Treks in culturally diverse teams to a geographical and functional area of interest. Given my association with the development sector in India, I had wanted my next stop of exploration to be the continent of Africa. Thanks to a very generous grant by the Weidenfeld Hoffman Trust and one by Green Templeton College which is especially provided to Said Business School students, this wish fulfilment happened in April 2017.

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Debate over marital rape: Talks of morality empty without equal rights for women

WHT alumni Shohini Sengupta (Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann, MSc Law and Finance, 2014-15) shares her recent article on the debate over marital rape in India, reproduced here by kind permission of the author

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One year after graduating from the MSc in Law and Finance, WHT alumna Nidhi Singh (Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann, 2015-16) reflects on her experiences since leaving Oxford, both professionally as she starts her legal career, and personally.

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