Seeking Solutions in Developing Countries

Brooks Marmon ’07, M.A . ’08
Major: History
Program Management Associate with global programs, Higher Education for Development

Sitting in on board meetings with senior-level university and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) officials was not something history major Brooks Marmon expected to be doing this early in his career. But as program management associate with global programs at Higher Education for Development (HED), Marmon facilitates partnerships between U.S. institutions of higher education and their counterparts around the world designed to find solutions to problems in developing countries.

HED, a member of the American Council on Higher Education, manages USAID and State Department funding for these global partnerships. When Liberia needed to boost its supply of healthcare professionals, HED supported a partnership between the University of Indiana at Bloomington and the University of Liberia Center for Excellence in Health and Life Sciences. In search of a more sustainable way of growing tomatoes, Guatemalan farmers benefited from a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. Arizona State University paired with the University of Prishtina to assist Kosovo’s developing a market economy by establishing a modern accountancy undergraduate degree program.

Marmon credits Clark’s international student population, study-abroad program in Namibia, and his Anton-Fellowship-sponsored summer trip to Ghana with fostering his interest in the developing world, especially Africa.

“I grew up in rural Virginia,” he explains, “so the international aspect of Clark immediately stood out. I was meeting people from all over the world on campus.”

As his perspectives broadened, a work-study experience with Clark’s Office of Advancement spurred an interest in higher education administration. These two foci converged when Marmon conducted research on the administration of Liberia College (now the University of Liberia) as part of his work in Clark’s accelerated master’s program in history. Clark also funded his participation in two academic conferences that he says “helped solidify my interest in higher ed as a career field and become conversant with issues important in the field.”

After graduation, Marmon served in the Peace Corps as a community development volunteer in Niger. There he taught English, worked with youth groups and promoted the use of cassava, an important source of dietary carbohydrates in the developing world.

Memories that stand out for Marmon from his times in Africa include meeting the former prime minister of Namibia and traveling in Zimbabwe on the eve of the 2008 presidential election, when Robert Mugabe lost after having been in power for 28 years (Mugabe remained in power, having won the second-round runoff). “I also had an experience riding in a van loaded down with dozens of sheep — on the roof and inside — and urine leaking down from the roof on a holiday when little transportation was available,” he recalls.

Following his stint in the Peace Corps, Marmon joined the American Political Science Association as a program assistant, and in that capacity traveled to Kenya for conference planning. He has authored several articles in the APSA’s peer-reviewed journal that focused on funding issues for U.S. government programs affecting higher-education programs supporting political scientists, principally the Department of Education funding for Title VI center and Fulbright-Hays grants. He also recently contributed two pieces to the Rethinking Zimbabwe blog sponsored by the U.S. Social Science Research Council and the U.K.’s Royal African Society.