Globalization, Sustainability, and Empowerment:
A Case Study of Ethiopia
From May 14 to June 1 this summer, Professor Steve Onyeiwu, Economics Department Chair and Lucinda Morgan, the Director of International Education, led a group of Allegheny students to Ethiopia in eastern Africa.
This EL experience, entitled “Globalization, Sustainability, and Empowerment: A Case Study of Ethiopia,” was an exploration of how Ethiopia has developed from a state-controlled economy in the 1980s and 1990s to impressive economic growth rates in the past decade. Regarded as one of Africa’s success stories, Ethiopia has done so on the basis of an agricultural development strategy, rather than on reliance on minerals.
The pre-departure sessions and site visits in Ethiopia enabled students to observe and consider the impact of economic growth. What did the group discover? Professor Onyeiwu shared these reflections:
Has economic growth been inclusive and poverty-alleviating? “We were shocked to observe how inequitable Ethiopia’s spectacular economic growth has been. The capital city, Addis Ababa, has many exquisite hotels, restaurants, and mansions. The roads in the city are replete with expensive imported cars. But driving about 30 miles outside of the city, one is confronted with abject poverty, and a lack of basic amenities (decent housing, schools, health centers, clean water, etc.).
Has growth empowered women and youth? “Women and youths are the most marginalized groups in Ethiopia. Women have limited access to education, and their roles are seen as primarily focused on child-bearing and work in the agricultural sector. Ethiopian youths lack employment opportunities. We met some youths with college degrees who were having difficulties finding jobs. Many youths with education have resorted to doing menial jobs that are unsuited to their skills and training.”
Is Ethiopia’s economic performance sustainable? “Ethiopia has done well with the development of agro-processing firms, from wineries to meat processing, cut flowers, leather products and handcrafts. Environmental students in our group also observed evidence of significant loss of biodiversity in Ethiopia. Thus, the sustainability of Ethiopia’s economic growth is very contentious.”
Experiential Learning Seminars (ELs) are short-term, faculty-led courses conducted in partnership with the International Education Office in the Allegheny Gateway to help students gain real-world experiences to achieve their ultimate career and life goals.