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Collins Wins Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award
Christopher Collins, director of convocation and student-led ministries at Pepperdine University, was awarded the UCLA Department of Education Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award, for his project "Higher Education and Knowledge for Nation-State Development: The Role of the World Bank and U.S. Universities in Poverty Reduction in the Developing World."
A Seaver College graduate of 2002, Collins served in the Peace Corps before signing on to serve as the director of convocation and student-led ministries at Pepperdine. While working at Pepperdine, Collins began studying education at UCLA, pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Change.
He cites his experience in the Peace Corps as what inspired his interest in his dissertation topic. "After serving in the Peace Corps I became more interested in the concept of nation-state development and poverty reduction," he says. "Through my studies in education it became clear to me that there may be some concrete links between development and universities."
The World Bank, which plays a dominant role in nation-state development, was the natural starting point for Collins' research. "I spent several months in the field doing research in Washington, D.C., Thailand, Uganda, Michigan, and Texas. The final piece of the dissertation looks at how land-grant universities and the element of extension show considerable promise for the role of U.S. universities in nation-state development and ultimately poverty reduction."
Collins successfully graduated in June 2009, after which, the UCLA Department of Education awarded him the Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award, which included a monetary prize of $1,000. Collins says he was thrilled to be recognized, and ultimately, to shed further light on the topic.
"What I hope the award means is that there is some recognition of the promise in making a link between universities and poverty reduction on a global scale. I intend to continue to do research to make these links clear, applicable, and operational," he says.
As for his role at Pepperdine, in which he designs and executes a wide range of programs to help students process moral and ethical issues, Collins says his experience at UCLA has been an excellent training. "My studies have played an important role in my career at Pepperdine in terms of research and assessment skills. The ability to substantiate claims with empirical research is a valuable skill. I hope that in my career at Pepperdine I am able to find more concrete connections between my research interests, obtaining a terminal degree, and my daily tasks at the university."
For more information about spiritual activities at Seaver College, including the convocation series and student-led ministries, visit seaver.pepperdine.edu/studentlife/spiritual.