Heads up to all of you aspiring planners with thoughts of joining the peace corps to gain international experience--there have been some unfortunate organizational changes in the peace corps. The planning-specific volunteer positions, Municipal Development volunteers, have been eliminated/rolled over into the much larger (and much more vague) Community Development program. What was unique about municipal development volunteers was they they worked directly with local governments in small towns, usually at city hall itself as volunteer city planners. Sounds great right? To my knowledge that program is kaput and the peace corps has said nothing about bringing it back. I've been really interested in this idea of using a stint in the peace corps to gain entre into the world of international development planning--but it seems at this point that that opportunity just isn't there anymore. Correspondingly, the PC website took down the "urban planner" page on it's website where it showcases the different types of volunteer positions. I believe that happened about a year ago. Also, I found out last month that the UW-Madison Urban Planning Masters International Program has also been terminated. (I assume because their are no more municipal development volunteer positions) That said, I have met a number of RPCV's planners that didn't serve as municipal development volunteers specifically. To me that just isn't an option. Permaculture projects are important...but I feel that that experience would be a hard sell to future employers who were looking for a planner's planner. Though, all the RPCV's I've talked to always say the same thing about the peace corps, "join for the experience--not for professional development".
Kind of a drag, I know, but I think it's good to put the world out. As for my international planning aspirations...I have no idea. I suppose I'll cast a resume into the AECOM black hole and hope to win the lottery. (Which is still more likely to happen than a UN or USAID position-ha!)
Does anyone else have any more information on the topic? Maybe one of you knows what going on with another university's Urban Planning Masters International Program?
Here are the links that explain how and why the municipal development program died: