In conversation with Jeffrey Sheehy
What inspired you during the project?
The enthusiasm and sense of duty shown by the students to their home countries is something that has always inspired me about the New Perimeter course on Special Economic Zones. More than any class I’ve ever been involved in, the students are extremely eager to learn and to take practical lessons back to their home jurisdictions. There is a real sense that they are in a privileged position to learn and should use whatever information they gain for broader social benefit. That is inspiring to me and shows a true social responsibility inherent in Africa’s leaders of tomorrow.
What was the most fulfilling aspect of the work?
I found the common understanding amongst such a disparate group of people the most fulfilling aspect of the work. We had presenters from the US, UK, Australia and South Africa, with students from all over the African continent, yet we all had a common goal to improve development outcomes in Africa. The challenge is to marry the somewhat ambiguous concept of special economic zones with on-the-ground solutions in the various jurisdictions the students come from. It is a true partnership and the students are now well positioned to be on either side of that discussion.
What one word describes your trip?
Responsibility. Special economic zones have the capacity to do ‘good’, but have well-known implementation issues, so imparting the most balanced and reasoned information on the concept to such an important cohort of people made me feel a good deal of responsibility. The course provides a wide range of perspectives and case studies on the pros and cons, opportunities and pitfalls, of special economic zones. Drawing on the lessons learned from other case studies and academic commentary will place the students in a great position to bring those lessons back home.
As always, it a was an honor to be involved in teaching the students and they were a pleasure to meet (albeit virtually!).